“What IS this, Mom?”

“It’s a peanut butter sandwich,” I say. It shouldn’t be a surprise. He eats a peanut butter sandwich on store-bought white bread every…single…day.

I used to make the bread at night–it’s easy–and the sandwiches in the morning, but then he discovered commercial, square, tasteless stuff at school.

“It’s frozen!”

“Yes, I took it out of the freezer.” I make all the sandwiches at the beginning of the week, then I pull out the lunch components and toss them in the bag. It’s a seemless drop-kick to the school bus.

“I’m not eating THAT, it’s FROZEN!!!”

And so it begins. The morning meltdown.

This, my parent friends know, is a power struggle. I can’t lose. If I lose today, it’ll be twice as hard to win tomorrow.

But I don’t have time right now to see it out to its proper conclusion… the full-kid squash.

“Fine,” I say as I make a new sandwich with the last two pieces of room-temperature bread. “But you’re making your own lunch at night from now on.”

That seems like a consequence–there has to be a consequence to avoid the kid win.

I’ll conveniently forget about nighttime lunch making next week.

Because I have a bag of frozen sandwiches. Right next to the frozen pre-packed sandwich bags of Goldfish, Saltines, and Oreos he has been eating for weeks.

If I pack them ahead of time, they’re there. If I don’t, Friday lunch is toast crusts and stale graham crackers. Or an apple that comes back at the end of the day.

“Time to go.” He goes to find his hoodie and put on his shoes.

That’s when I swap the sandwiches.

I put the one I just made behind some clutter on the counter and put the freezer one back in the bag. He’ll never know the difference.

He thinks he’s won, but I know the truth.

And next week, I’ll toss a frozen sandwich in his bag every single day.

Because moms always win in the end.

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