Wednesday, 28 November 2007


In our family we play a guessing game with the children that starts off “is it bigger than a breadbin and smaller than a house?” “Yes” and may go on something like “is it bigger than a table and smaller than a room?” etc until you get the size established then the questions become more specific. It’s great fun and the children love it.

I was reminded of this game when three of my young grandchildren came to stay while their parents were in France finalising details of their imminent move there. The children’s lunch boxes are only a smidgen smaller than breadbins!

The first time I saw the four year old lugging this enormous box out of school I couldn’t believe it. It was nearly as big as him. Now I know why. Typical contents are one ham sandwich (no butter), piece of fruit; meringue cone thingy (wrapped in kitchen paper); small box of dried fruit; chocolate rice crispy biscuit; petit filous (with spoon); bottle of water; carton of apple juice and a second piece of kitchen roll to be used as a table cloth.

Preparing the boxes was like a military operation. The containers for the fruit and the drinks were named and had to go into the correct box. Needless to say I fell down badly at this hurdle and was severely reprimanded by the little girl that evening. The little boy sometimes takes a pepperoni. The little girl likes a sandwich of home prepared tuna, sweet corn and mayo. She doesn’t, however, like pepperoni or a box of dried fruit and so on. To my great relief the eldest boy packed his own box.

And then there was the other stuff they had to take with them. Swimming gear this day, PE gear that day etc. By the time we left the house I was exhausted. And then there was the stuff they trawled back home with them after school. Notes from the school, party invitations, precious treasures made at school that day and, naturally, the empty lunch boxes and swimming/muddy PE gear.

Life was so much simpler when my children were young. They were shooed out of the house to walk to school and fend for themselves. No swimming and for PE they simply took off their tunic and blouse! I am going to start a campaign to bring back childhood deprivation and independence. The children love it and the adults are not so wrung out all the time.


marymaryquitecontrary said...

This reminds me of how my husband spends his Monday afternoons. He drives six miles to pick up number one grandchild from school; drives one mile to her speech and drama class; spends some time reading the paper or doing a little errand if we need anything; back to school to pick up number two grandchild ;takes her to speech and drama class and picks up no one; brings her home to me ,runs around the kitchen with a much needed cup of tea and then off again driving the six miles to collect no two. No wonder my daughter feel tired a lot of the time.

Swearing Mother said...

Retired and Crazy, you are so right! Life was so much simpler then, all you had to do was turn up. You had a desk to put your books in, so didn't have to heave them round with you all day, and a locker where you could hang your coat and PE kit etc. The only times we had anything extra to carry was Domestic Science (cookery) where we had a basket to take in the ingredients. They were always empty on the way home because if what we'd cooked was any good (like a Victoria sandwich for instance) we would eat it ourselves, if it was vile (horrid stew, etc.) we'd pour it down the school loo.

Now every kid is loaded up like a pack-horse, or one of those army trainees doing a cross-country run in full combat gear. Good job they all get ferried to school in a car, they'd be exhausted if they had to walk with all that lot dragging them down.

And this is progress?

laurie said...

ah, you need to change the name of this blog to "retiredandwise."

i agree with you....

in swim class we were issued swimsuits (you had to bark out your bust size to the attendant, who handed you the hideous black one-piece through a little hole in a door. quite embarrassing if you were young and flat. "twenty-eight!" i'd say, surrounded by girls who said, "thirty-six!")

and we wore one-piece bloomers for gym class, which we kept in our lockers at the school and never, ever washed.

even though we were supposed to. but frankly, i never sweated during gym class. never really exerted myself. the thing was as pristine in spring as it was the day they gave it to me in the fall.

Retiredandcrazy said...

Hi Mary Mary, our children are so clever now aren't they? And isn't it good for the children to have loving grandparents to help out? We usually have our great grandchildren to sleep over on Saturday. They wreck the house but we wouldn't be without them!

Retiredandcrazy said...

Well Swearing Mother, you said all that without one fucking swear word! Are you rehabilitating yourself?

Children do have wonderful lives now, but they miss out on the simple things like kicking a can all the way home after school and staying out to play until the sun goes down. This is what memories are made of.

Retiredandcrazy said...

Hi Laurie, yes, bloomers. I wanted to say they wore navy blue knickers, but held off because you have to be so careful what you say nowadays! Sign of the times. I was boobless too, but I've made up for it now. Oh to be slim again.

Anonymous said...

It usually takes me half an hour to get settled once Amy comes home from school. Scouring her bag for notes etc, sorting out the swimming bag on Thursday together with mine because I go too, reading her daily spelling, seeing it there's any new information in the diary. Picking up coats, gloves and chocolate wrappers as they are dropped on their way from the fridge to the lounge! Exhausting, yes.

Crystal xx

A Mother's Place is in the Wrong said...

Funny, but it makes me quite nostalgic for the days when my two were coming home for tea - that's probably because I haven't started with the Grandson at school yet! But I do remember walking home from the County High and dodging the stones thrown by the kids from the local secondary modern!
Best wishes, Margot.

Flagmaker said...

The good old days. I remember being young and the old greyhaired people would sit around and talk of the good old days. ARE WE THERE, YET? (I think it's closer than I want to admit.) I couldn't begin to get a kid ready and off to school these days.

Anonymous said...

Doesn’t any one have school lunch these days?
I used to love school dinners. Those puds with custard and Manchester tart.
Very few had packed lunch when I was in school. I remember when the first lunch boxes appeared they were Tupperware and very ordinary, today my goodness they are like fashion accessories.
And all this fuss over what goes in them –organic macrobiotic, five fruits – what about a good old jam sarnie.

Retiredandcrazy said...

Good Morning, yes - and try doing all that at my age!