By Sholain Govender-Bateman – Pretoria-based New Media journalism lecturer, former The Star and Pretoria News journalist & editor of magazines. She is mum to two gorgeous girls, Isobel and Aishwari, and wife to Barry Bateman. Twitter @sholain
Isobel hasn’t even started Grade 1 yet where we’ll have to pack lunch and snacks for her school day but we’ve already experienced our first incident of snack box politics.
I had heard of this curious thing happening but I never thought I would experience it myself since I am the proud mum of an unfussy eater. Aside from tomatoes, Isobel happily eats everything so I was shocked to discover not one, but two old bananas in Isobel’s school bag last week! She had stashed her uneaten fruit and some other snacks at the bottom of her school bag and when I asked her, confused, why she had not eaten her snacks, a defiant frown appeared on her face.
“Mama, all the other children at school get sweets in their snack box. I’m the only one who brings healthy snacks. I want sweets!”
Her school has rules and have asked parents not to pack sweets into snack boxes but I understand that it’s not possible to police every snack box in a group of 15+ whilst you have a bunch of little ones chatting away. I realised that it’s up to hubby and me to teach Isobel one of her first anti-peer pressure lessons. After all, just because everyone is getting something/doing something/wearing something, doesn’t mean she must do it and if we let it go now, what happens in 5 years, 10 years…?
I swear, this child of mine loves fruit, nuts, rice crackers, carrot and celery sticks, cheese and biltong and yogurt for snacks and it’s never been a problem before. And before you ask, we do give our children sweets and treats regularly, so they’re not like those deprived type of children who get hysterical and gobble up every sweet/cake in sight when they go to a kiddies party and then throw up (you know the type I’m talking about).
After much stamping of little feet, a little bit of cheekiness and continued assertions of “I WILL not eat those snacks!”, hubby and I agreed that it was time for some drastic action. Before she went to bed, I asked her: “Would you like your usual healthy snacks or would you like no snacks tomorrow?” Her answer, “I. WANT. SWEETS!”
We didn’t send a snack box the next day.
I felt so guilty but she gets a good breakfast and lunch and a light dinner at school if she is picked up after 4.30pm so I knew she had more than enough to eat and I knew we needed to do it. That evening I asked her again, “Would you like your usual healthy snacks or would you like no snacks tomorrow?”, and she answered very quickly with a mischievous smile on her face: “Mama, I want my healthy snacks. And pleeeease don’t forget to pack an apple for me tomorrow. I love apples!”
Click here to find a list of articles with great lunchbox ideas