The Time I Was Grateful My Grandma Was the Lunch Lady


I know I have said before that I grew up in a small town in Iowa, but really it was small when I was growing up and one of the reasons I loved it as a kid.  I could bike to my Aunty T’s house or my Grandma’s (once she moved into town and wasn’t out on the farm where my Daddy grew up) and my Mom really never had to worry where I was or who I was with because someone would know.  It had its drawbacks though…I mean everyone knew who you belonged to and that meant you could not get away with much.  My family was also everywhere.  My Grandma worked for the school system and was the head cook so everyone knew her.  Grandma was a special woman and an inspiration to me.  I was the very first grandchild, so Grandma and I had a special bond and I lost her way too early…when I was 18.  I miss her every day.  As a child, sometimes having Grandma right there in the schools was not always a blessing but, there was one time I was super grateful that she was in my elementary school that day making rounds in the kitchen.

My Mommy, having just had a baby and returned to work, was in the habit of packing my lunch the night before to save her some time since she had two kiddos to get ready in the morning as well as herself. Something I am sure the busy moms who read this can understand and appreciate.  I don’t think I would ever be that organized, but that is my Mommy.  She is way organized…a trait I did not inherit from her.  By prepping my lunch ahead of time, all she had to do was grab my lunch box (which at this point in 6th grade was probably something like a Holly Hobbie lunch box) out of the fridge and hand it to me as she shoved me out the door so I could walk the few blocks to school.  And I do mean shove…she was usually in a hurry considering she had to get Bubby ready to be dropped off at the baby sitters so she could go to work and my Dad was usually already on his way to work before she left.  So, this particular day was not unusual as I was handed my lunchbox, my backpack and given a kiss before I met the neighbor girl to walk to school.  The problem came at lunchtime.

I sat down in the lunchroom with all the other 6th graders and proceeded to get open my lunch box.  There was a lot of little Tupperware containers in my lunch, which was not too unusual, considering my mom often packed small things in these containers but I noticed there was no thermos or sandwich which was odd.  Huh.  Pretty sure I had requested ham and cheese with Oreos but nope.  Not there.  Ok…I wondered what she had packed.  I started by opening the first container and it had something that could be applesauce in it.  Alright…I guess I will start with that and I took the spoon out of the lunch box and put a big spoonful in my mouth.  Oh holy what in God’s name is that flavor and texture in my mouth because that is sure as hell NOT applesauce!  I was pretty sure that my Mommy was trying to poison me with something rancid.  Was she trying to tell me I was already a Fat Girl and needed to lose weight?  Why else would she give me some sort of pureed hell for lunch?  I quickly realized it might be some sort of vegetable or fruit but what ever it was and what ever she was trying to feed me, I was not going to eat that.  I quickly opened the other Tupperware containers in my lunch box and discovered all sorts of things that I soon figured out was meats and veggies.  It then hit me…this was Bubby’s lunch.  My Mommy had obviously mixed up what she was doing and packed my whole lunch box filled with baby food.  Which meant only one thing…Bubby had my ham and cheese sandwich and Oreos.  Having now surmised my tired, frazzled Mommy had mixed up our lunches, I wondered what to do considering I had no money for lunch.  I eyed everyone else’s chili and cinnamon rolls with envy and listened to my stomach growl with protest.  First off, my Grandma’s chili and cinnamon rolls are legendary in our small town school system.  Nothing like them ever.  And no…the combo is not weird.  It is heavenly and anyone in our town will tell you they look forward to that day at school.  Secondly…I was starving.  I was unsure of how to acquire food but I knew I could not sit there and starve.  So I did the only thing I knew to do.  I went in search of my Grandma.

I walked up to the lunch counter and saw one of the lunch ladies that I liked and asked if by any chance she could call my Grandma at the high school in order to get a tray.  She smiled at me and told me my Grandma happened to be in the back of the kitchen that day and she went and got her.  I was never so relieved to see my beautiful Grandma’s smiling face under her hair net and in her apron as I was that day.  I explained what had happened with the lunches and how I had nothing edible to eat because there was no way that I was going to eat the pureed hell that was packed in there when in fact, I was felt quite sorry for my Bubby if he had to eat that.  I now understood why he sometimes made the faces he did when we shoveled food into his mouth.  I would make those faces too if that pureed hell was put in my mouth.  Grandma, smiling, told me to hang on and quickly reappeared with a steaming bowl of chili and the largest cinnamon roll you have ever seen just for me.  She came around the counter, handed me the tray and gave me a hug and told me to hurry up and eat and that there would be a good snack waiting for me at her house after school.  Never in my life was I so grateful that my Grandma worked in the kitchen as I was that day.  I was also super grateful that pureed hell was not what I was stuck eating.  My Mommy was so embarrassed when we told her but she laughed pretty hard when I told her I felt sorry for Bubby and he could have my ham and cheese anyday instead of that pureed hell she made him eat.

My beautiful Grandma with me and my cousin.  I am the blondie with the pink car...I miss her every  day.
My beautiful Grandma with me and my cousin, who is 2 weeks younger than me. I am the blondie with the pink car…I miss her every day.

Oh yeah.  I didn’t die today.  I discovered that babies have a special kind of pureed hell they have to eat when my poor tired Mommy gave me my Bubby’s lunch instead but I didn’t die.  I am Fat Girl who is grateful I didn’t have to eat that and got my Grandma’s chili and cinnamon roll instead Running.  The experiment continues…

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