When I was a kid, I had a red lunchbox. I used it every day, starting with my first day of prep and continuing right through to my final day of high school. I used it at university, and later at work. It’s still sitting in my pantry – a red Tupperware number with one corner of the lid slightly melted and my name in faded gold paint pen. When the occasion calls, I drag it out and fill it again. It has never let me down, not once.
As part of my preparations for Orion’s journey into kindergarten, I let him choose a lunchbox at the supermarket for himself. He was pretty pleased with it, although I had my doubts because the inside was separated into compartments. Anyone who’s ever tried to pack anything into a compartmentalised lunchbox will know exactly how annoying it is.
I’ll never forget arriving at kindergarten on the first day and watching Orion unpack his bag. Kinder is set up so that everyone’s lunchbox goes onto a communal trolley and I was quite surprised to note that Orion was the only one in the room with a lunch box. Every other child carried an insulated lunch bag. I waited to see if Orion would notice that his lunchbox was different, but he never said anything. Half way through his second week, the lunchbox slid off the trolley and onto the floor. The crash was tremendous, and his seemingly solid little box suddenly had a large crack running the length of it. He was really upset, because “It was my box that I picked at shopping.” I promised him we would buy a new lunch box. He immediately brightened and said: “Oh, yes! Mummy, can I please have a special bag like my friends?” Ah. Looks like my fashion faux pas hadn’t gone unnoticed after all.
That night after kinder, we sat down at the computer together and I let him design his own lunch bag. He was fascinated with the idea of having something with his name on it, and he picked the racing car because “It has number 91 on it, and 91 is the number on my home.” After a couple of days anxiously checking the mail and waiting, the new bag arrived and the broken lunch box was in the bin. The lunch bag is much easier to fill and use, although I now understand why some of the kids have such enormous backpacks, because we almost have to sit on Orion’s backpack to get the zip shut.
When he finally got to take the lunch bag to kinder, he proudly showed his teachers (who were duly impressed) and very carefully stacked it onto the lunch trolley beside the 27 other lunch bags. Then he turned to me and said: “Now I have a special bag too.”
How about you? Are you a box or bag person?