Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Avoiding Hungry Bus Kid Syndrome

This morning my middle child posed a strange question, "Mom, if I have any leftovers from my lunch, do you mind if I give them to the hungry girls?" I followed up on this, "What do you mean hungry girls?" My daughter's explanation: apparently there are a couple of girls that go kid-to-kid on the bus asking for food. "They'll even eat the stuff you drop," offered my daughter. Lovely.

We're not talking malnourished girls here, just energetic elementary schoolers whose last meal was before recess at 11:30am. The situation got me thinking about how to pack my kids' lunches not only for lunch, but also for potential bus hunger pangs later. As a result my kids’ lunches underwent a bit of a redesign.

Pack in layers. Just like you dress in layers on breezy days to be prepared for a variety of weather, pack for a variety of hunger levels. Some days your kids will be ravenous, other days they’ll have problems finishing a mini-bagel. You don’t want them to waste food so offer some fillers that can last through the week. If they don’t eat it Monday, it’ll still be good on Friday. Granola bars work well.

Put in plastic. Instead of baggies, stash snacks in small plastic containers. That way, if your son doesn’t finish his Goldfish, they won’t be crushed by the time he’s hungry for them later.

Go for snacks with longevity. Pretzels, baby carrots, Twizzlers, Fiber One bars (I’m told that’s a “hungry girl” fav) won’t go bad if your kids don’t eat them right away.

I’m not encouraging eating on the bus (which I’m told isn’t allowed--but the bus driver doesn’t mind), just that I want my kids to have enough food at school to keep their energy up throughout the day. And I don't want them combing the ground on the bus floor for snacks!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Baby butterflies: Newborn smarts

Could it be that babies are smarter than adults give them credit for? That's the gist of a recent opinion essay from Alison Gopnik, which appeared in New Scientist. Now I'm no scientist myself, but I'm amazed that by the age a child reaches 3, she's gone from not knowing how to walk, talk or eat solids to a fully functional (for the most part) little person. I've been working off and on for a decade to learn a new language and I can barely crank out a decent hello in Spanish, yet children not only learn a spoken language but so much more.

Beyond just what babies are learning, Gopnik explores how they learn--through creativity. A kind of creativity that gradually wanes as we become adults. Says Gopnik: "Babies are brilliant learners but terrible planners, with fantastically creative and visionary imaginations but absolutely no executive capacity. They are the R&D department of the human species, the blue-sky guys, while we adults are production and marketing."

So is human development really a matter of reverse metamorphosis? Gopnik seems to think so, "with babies as exploratory, bright butterflies while the adults are caterpillars, inching along their narrower paths." I hope I can learn (and relearn) from my children how to stay a little younger at heart by letting my imagination and creativity get a little more childlike every once in awhile.

--mom in the marketing department