Mothers and food. To babies, the two are synonymous. And the idea that mothers provide food remains a constant while there are children in the house. Mommies make meals. Mommies buy food. The mom is the one you ask what there is to eat around here.
As children venture out into the world, they begin to eat at places besides home. One of a kid’s first social experiences is often that of eating at a restaurant—and being carried outside when he starts to fuss, or falling asleep in the booth while the grown-ups are still finishing their coffee.
Kids who go to school have the experience of eating lunch in a cafeteria. I was reminded of this fact by an editorial in today’s New York Times. It calls for Congress to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act, thereby making school lunches healthier for the kids who have to eat them.
One of the nicest things about homeschooling is the way it blends so well with home-cooking and eating at home. For several years, from about age seven to about age ten, my daughter ate soup for lunch while I read Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books to her. Talk about nutrition—for the body and the soul.
It makes me sad that there are children who associate lunch with vending machines. I think vending machines should be a novelty—something you encounter at the rest stop on Route 95 when you’re on vacation. I think food should come from a loving hand, not a metal claw, especially when it’s food for children.
Feeding our children is primal, intimate, social, and special. It’s a communication of love and trust: a mother saying “I am here, and I will give you what you need. You can count on me for that.”
I know that some children need to have school lunches, and I hope they get healthier ones in the future. But I’m glad my child had homeschool lunches, that took as long as she wanted them to take, that had as much or as little food as she wanted (and therefore, needed), that came with a willing reader of whatever she wanted me to read, and that made me feel like a mommy in the truest sense of the word.
You’d better go now. There’s probably a hungry child in the house somewhere.