Last night, just before he went to sleep, Small Child was telling me about his day. "I got a certificate today Mummy, for being very brave" he said. "Wow!" I answered, "What did you do that was brave?" He went on to tell me how he had volunteered to 'do a challenge' in assembly. Quite a few of the children volunteered, and they had each had to pick a challenge to do in front of the whole school. He ended up being last, so he had to take the last challenge that nobody else had wanted to do, which was to sing a song, all by himself, in front of everyone. "I felt quite shy Mummy, but I did it!" he told me. I asked him to sing it to me too, because I wasn't there, and so he did. It was beautiful! I am so proud of him - my lovely boy, who rose to the challenge and sang in front of everyone, and me. I'm definitely having a proud parent moment (sorry!), I'm really not sure I would have been so brave at his age!
That's my boy all over though, bright, and brave, willing to stand up on his own, and take a challenge, even if by doing so he may come across a little 'different', and leave himself open for criticism. I am so very proud of him! What has this to do with lunch though, my usual topic here on my blog? Well, last night I discovered an article online that was a nasty, and very personal attack on me and my blog, written by a fellow mother. I'm not going to go into a rant about it, but I wanted to pick up on one thing - among the many things that she had to say was an accusation that I leave Small Child open to bullying, by making his lunches fun and creative.
Now I see that this could be a possibility, given the tendency of children to pick on things that are different, but as far as I am aware this issue has never come up with Small Child. I check with him regularly to see whether he is still happy to have his lunches in this form, and so far he is always aghast at the idea that I would stop - he absolutely loves them! I love making them too, so we are both very happy with the arrangement. If he did come up against any unpleasantness though, this is what I would tell him.
"Everyone is different, everyone does things their own way, and we should always try to be brave, to stand up to those who would challenge us, and assert our right to be different, to be creative, to be ourselves. We should never change ourselves to avoid being bullied - the bullies are the ones with the problem, not us".
This is what I was brought up to believe, and this is what I want to teach my children. Bullying is never OK, be it by a 5 year old or an adult, who should know better. There, I feel better now!
Back to lunch! This morning I packed Small Child a lunch full of love! In this lunch he had pieces of leftover chicken kebab from dinner the night before (see child friendly recipe here), decorated with a couple of heart picks, a large wholemeal pitta bread, cut into hearts using a heart shaped cookie cutter, cucumber slices, with carrot hearts inserted into each one, organic natural yoghurt, topped with heart sprinkles, mandarin segments, and some red grapes hearts, skewered on a heart pick. You can see how I made the grape hearts in this post. I finished the lunch off with a little chocolate chick left from Easter, as a special treat.
I showed Small Child the lunch before I packed it in his lunch bag - he was delighted with it! He may be a boy but he still loves cutesy hearts, and I am very happy for him to remain in that lovely innocent frame of mind for as long as possible - all too quickly childhood passes and 'fitting in' becomes the norm.
One last thing, I just wanted to say thank you to a whole lot of very wonderful people, who came out and supported me on twitter, last night and today. I have been blown away by the sheer volume of very lovely and very supportive comments from the blogging community and fellow parents, who put pressure on the website in question to remove the article I mentioned above. The article has now been removed, and I look forward to 'normal service' being resumed here on the blog tomorrow, but I will never forget that absolutely amazing response.
To quote some bento blogging friends of mine: "Lets make lunch, not war!"