The first time some of us dropped our little ones off for a preschool day that lasted through lunch, we felt like we'd shipped them off to Swiss boarding school. Lunch! LUNCH! Babies with lunch boxes, that's what they looked like.
And then we caught a glimpse of them around the table when the time came: these were no babies. These were darling little preschoolers, tiny people playing roles of little grown-ups as they chatted and munched, chatted and munched. We've said it before about birthday parties, but there is simply nothing cuter than a half-height table with wee little chairs and preschool-aged darlings clustered around, sharing a meal. They're just so little—and big—and...sigh, so adorable.
Who knew? Preschool lunch is not just about a big separation, and it's not just about a cute photo op. There is real work going on (as with all things in the lives of these wee ones), and there are real delights that come from it. Whether at preschool or at a picnic with your pals at the end of a playdate, here are some of our favorite things about lunching with your friends:
They come home full. Full preschoolers are happy preschoolers, and the jagged edges of an 11:30 a.m. pick-up prove this point more than anything. Give 'em a bite to eat first, and the reunion with Mom or Dad is so much more cheerful.
Preschool teachers get them to eat their "growing food" first. Your battles over broccoli just got outsourced for one whole meal a day. It's just the rule of school: veggies and protein before juice or treats. Works like a charm—inside the school walls or at somebody else's house.
They get to see what other kids eat. Yes, you're right—this one can cut both ways. The Dora-themed yogurt cup that you've successfully wheeled right past in the grocery store—well, the secret's out. But the secret's also out on beets. And cucumbers. And hard-boiled eggs. And all sorts of things that their friends consume for lunch and seem to survive!
They are so much themselves. They scatter along a spectrum of lunchtime behavior, just like in all things. There are the chatterers who barely get bites in because they are so busy being busy; there are the ones who wolf down their food and get immediately back to playing; there are the savor-every-bite-rs, who never fail to be the last to leave the table. Fast forward 30 years, and our guess is that their worktime lunches will follow the exact same patterns.
Lunch out is an excuse for a lunch box. What on earth could be more fun than picking your own lunch box?