The Last Lunch


At 18, no longer embarrassed by his mom.

Urgency Day 94

500 Things Items 97-99: Plastic water bottles

  • History: From the brown-bag years
  • Value: Between the BPAs and the mold, not much
  • Parting pain: None!
  • Un-possessing:  Through Naperville’s comprehensive recycling program

Remember when pizza day at school was a treat?

It was usually Friday. And that was the only day Sam ever wanted to buy his lunch at school.

No years of char-burgers and tater tots for him; no spaghetti and meatless-meat sauce, no limp iceberg lettuce salads, no breakfast-for-lunch, no Can-I-just-have-ice-cream- please? bargaining attempts. No school lunches for Sam, except pizza. And by the third grade, he had given up that, too.

Today, I made brown-bag lunch #2017: My Last School Lunch for Sam. Two-thousand seventeen. That’s my estimate anyway, based on some creative but sound accounting. It may not be an exact figure, but I bet it’s pretty darn close. If anything, I bet it’s under the total. It sure feels like it’s under. All those bleary-eyed mornings of brown-bag duty feel like a lot more than 2017.

In honor of this occasion, I am retiring several tired reusable plastic water bottles.

For years, I would freeze and then carefully wrap a disposable bottle of water in foil and plastic wrap to include in Sam’s lunch bags. The ice would melt by lunch—luckily Sam never had one of those absurdly early lunch periods such as one year at his school (and I am not making this up) 9:40 a.m.—and it would keep the rest of his lunch cool.

Then, another mom said, “You shouldn’t freeze those plastic water bottles.”

(Plus, they really are lousy for the environment.)

So we tried:

  • re-freezable cold packs–  he’d forget and throw them away;
  • baggies full of ice—they invariably leaked and got stuff soggy, plus that’s a lot of baggies;
  • reusable plastic bottles filled with ice water.

The last wasn’t a bad solution. He still managed to pitch them, forget them, and leave them a moldering in his locker; but on the whole, these worked.

Then, another mom said, “There are BPAs in refillable plastic bottles.”

I am so happy to have made my last official school lunch.

Just for curiosity’s sake (and for our family records), the Last Lunch contained:

  • Granola bar (for midmorning snacking)
  • Raisin bread slices (he’s not a big sandwich eater; peanut butter crackers were also a staple);
  • MacIntosh apple;
  • Baggie of pineapple chunks;
  • Baggie of baby carrots;
  • Four Oreo cookies.

“When you are 6 feet tall and weigh 130 pounds, you are allowed to have 4 Oreo cookies in your lunch.”

And that’s what Sam’s mom said.


9 Responses to “The Last Lunch”

  1. boysgonewild Says:

    Congratulations on your last lunch! If you find yourself missing the process too much, come on over. I am just gearing up.
    ps – love the note.

    • sthibeault Says:

      Yes, you’ll make something like 4034 lunches or more, depending on your accounting and Matthew and David’s lunch preferences. Plus our school year is 4 days shorter. Start counting now, so you can accurately report in your June, 2025 blog post– you know, when David graduates 🙂

  2. Donna Says:

    Don’t forget the whole-lot-o-love that was an added bonus every day. I remember how I dutifully did lunch bag duty for so many years. (Somehow I never found the inner strength to say, “No more. If you want a lunch then pack it yourself” as some of my friends did.) It wasn’t my favorite part of motherhood, but I really had a tug on the morning I did it for the last time. I love how you found a way to commemorate it!

  3. sthibeault Says:

    Nope, no “pack it yourself” moms in this family. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  4. melanie Says:

    My grown son is home for his summer job before starting law school in the fall. I’ve been making his lunches for him. I’M SO HAPPY! It’s like I’ve been given a repreive on him growing up (in my mind, not in reality!)

    Great post. Congratulations on this momentous Last Lunch Day.

    • sthibeault Says:

      Second Acts are often sweeter, aren’t they? Must have something to do with perspective. I’ll tell you when my boy returns. If my boy returns?

  5. sthibeault Says:

    Second Acts are often sweeter, aren’t they? Must have something to do with perspective. I’ll tell you when my boy returns. If my boy returns? sigh

  6. Jan Says:

    Suzanne, LAST LUNCH? As you can imagine, I felt a bit of jealousy when reading this as I find myself reciting the contents of my refrigerator as I go to sleep, hoping a solid healthy meal with come together in the morning, or guarding the contents in the soup terrine, making sure there is enough for two lunches in the morning. I’ve finally resolved that this is my lot in life, I find creativity in the job and often am blessed with an empty Thermos after a lentil lunch. Anyway, seeing that it ends, makes me a little sad all the same. Love ya!

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