FAMILY: Primal parenting: food for thought

Columnist Susan Lundy offers her insights into parenting

As I attempted to send my daughter back to her tiny rental suite in Vancouver laden with Thanksgiving leftovers, I realized how the “provision of food” is such a primal part of parenting.

The offer was gently rebuffed: “I don’t have enough arms to carry another bag!” (I handed it to her friend). Luckily, I’d dropped off a massive bin full of supplies a few days earlier, so I wasn’t concerned (yet) that she would starve.

It’s primal and it’s inherited; I remember leaving my parents’ home topped up with leftovers and bits of random groceries. In fact my mom rarely visits today without bringing a container of home-baked cookies or a bag of coffee that she “just won’t use.”

Sending my adult kids off with a few groceries is so much easier than all those years of packing school lunches. My lunch-making angst began early, all the way back to the daycare years. For months, I’d blithely gone about the morning routine of packing diaper bag, snack and lunch. I had no inkling I might be causing permanent damage to the psyche of my firstborn until the caregiver finally took me aside.

She explained that all the other children brought snacks in lunchboxes with little handles, colourful Disney characters and matching thermoses. Danica’s lunch merely arrived in a paper bag and she might be feeling left out. I was horrified in the way that only first-time parents can understand. I couldn’t bear the suffering my child had silently endured.

Judging by the stories that have circulated the news in the past year or so, creating school lunches has become trickier than ever. I’m sure every lunchbox-packing parent shuddered at the story of the mom who was threatened with a fine in Winnipeg because she failed to include a “grain” in her child’s balanced lunch. That lunch apparently did include roast beef, potatoes, carrots and an orange. Then there was the British primary school student sent home after teachers discovered a bag of Mini Cheddars in his lunch, a violation of the school’s health and balanced meal policy.

Although I worked hard to create lunchbox masterpieces, I’m glad there were no lunch police back then. I didn’t need anyone else hovering around taking notes. The food had to be healthy; it had to be something they would eat and – the biggie – it had to be available in either the fridge or cupboards. The more empty the fridge, the more “creative” the lunches.

Some mornings, the father of my children scoffed at my lunchbox anguish, breezily claiming he could easily throw together a mere lunch or two. I smiled kindly, continued making the meal and hoped to God that I never died and left him in charge of our children’s lunches. In those days, I worked late most Monday nights, leaving him to make dinner. Danica and Sierra did not always appreciate his “gourmet” touch. Once, when he had created some sort of odd, raisin, pasta and pickle juice dish, he set a plate down in front of each child. Five-year-old Danica’s eyes widened in disbelief as she observed her dinner.

“This,” she said, outraged, “is bullshit!” It’s tough to chide a child for language when you’re suppressing laughter. When I got home and observed the food, I had to agree with her sentiment.

However, I guess I should have given him some slack. Just because the provision of food is “primal,” doesn’t mean it’s going to be good.

– Susan Lundy

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Students from SD62 stepped up to help members in the community with the annual 10,000 Tonight food drive. This year’s organizers had to adapt during the campaign as COIVD-19 public health orders changed. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore students step up to make sure community members don’t go without

Students of SD62 are this year’s recipient of the Youth Volunteer Award

A cat died in this house fire in Sidney afternoon. The fire started on the house’s deck and spread from that point. Sidney Volunteer Fire Department Chief Brett Mikkelsen said the permanent presence of crews at the Community Safety Building prevented worse damage. (Photo courtesy of Clayton Firth)
Sidney house fire kills cat, causes extensive damage

Official says fire started on deck and damage to the house could have been worse

Millstream Village is welcoming a new Marshalls location March 9. (Photo courtesy GWL Realty Advisors)
New Marshalls store in Langford brings boost to women in need

Retailer will hold opening ceremony in Millstream Village March 9

Abstract Developments is donating $75,000 to support community programming at The Cridge Centre for the Family. (Courtesy of The Cridge Centre)
Victoria developer builds support for community programs

Abstract Developments donates $75,000 to The Cridge Centre for the Family

SD 62 (Sooke) has announced a COVID-19 exposure at David Cameron Elementary in Colwood. Potential exposure dates are Monday, Feb. 22; Tuesday, Feb. 23; and Wednesday, Feb. 24. (Black Press Media File).
COVID-19 exposure at Colwood’s David Cameron Elementary

Potential exposure dates are Monday, Feb. 22; Tuesday, Feb. 23; and Wednesday, Feb. 24.

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

A boat caught fire in Ladysmith Harbour on Saturday morning. (Photo submitted)
Search underway for missing woman after boat catches fire in Ladysmith harbour

A large boat caught fire on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 27

Lone orca from a pod that made its way north from Georgia Strait and into Discovery Passage on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Ella Smiley/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/Comoxvalleywildlifesightings/?ref=page_internal" target="_blank">Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings </a>
Island wildlife viewers thrilled by close view of passing Orca pod

Group gives wildlife photographers a classic opportunity to view them off Campbell River shoreline

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Most Read