What Happened When I Sent Fish Cutlets To School

Last week, my son cried on the way to school because I informed the kids they were getting fish cutlets in their lunch. I was surprised because I had made them the day before and they loved them. But my preschooler was worried about what the kids would say about his stinky meal. My heart was heavy all morning and I felt torn about the situation. I want my kids to feel good about themselves, confident enough to withstand any comments from their peers. I mean, don’t we all want that? And haven’t we been in that boat before, at some point or another?

So many of my readers shared their thoughts with me on this, and especially sent messages of compassion for my kids. Thank you!! You were curious about what happened, so I’m going to tell you!

Me: Soooo…how did lunch go?

Son: Good.

Me: Did anybody say anything?

Son: Nooo…oh…just… (insert boy’s name here). He said, ‘That’s gross!’ *wrinkles nose and smiles a little smile – a smile often associated with his story-telling*

Me: Would you like to take a fish cutlet to school another day?

Son: No. Someone else might say something.

Me: Did you have a good day at school?

Son: Yes, it was so fun! We played….(and carries on a full monologue about the awesomeness of school).

In other words: I really don’t know  what actually happened. Many mixed messages and none of them triggered an alarm on the Mama Intuition Radar.

Then with my 7 year old girl, this happened:

Me: So….how was your lunch?

Daughter: SO YUMMY!

Me: Oh good!! So nobody said anything then?

Daughter: Nope!

Me: Nice!

Daughter: I just kept it in my lunch kit, and covered it with the flap in between bites so no one could see it. *laughs*

OK, so again, not a reliable situation. The other day, though, she came home and said people were asking her weird questions about her wrap. They were questioning her about the actual tortilla. From my daughter’s report, the conversation basically was a repeat of these lines: What is that? Um, a wrap. What is that? Um, a wrap.

What do I conclude? I will continue to send meals that are good lunch material. I try to feed my children as much homemade food as possible. And some of that will be Indian. But in all honesty, I don’t think this has anything to do with culture. A couple of my readers suggested that the teachers could put on a food-tasting session so that classmates can try foods from each other’s ethnic backgrounds. That is a great idea, and I would hope parents are invited to also taste the cuisines! (wink, wink) But I also think that really – kids are just being kids here. Curious. Blunt. There is an age when they know right from wrong, teasing from questioning, but I don’t think everyone my son’s age is there yet. And my daughter didn’t feel the questioning was malicious – just ‘annoying’, in her words.

But the bottom bottom line is I want my kids to feel good enough about themselves that being different is not a bad thing. I remember navigating that tricky road. I remember being made fun of in elementary school for being caught holding hands with my mom at the grocery store (I was 11. I continued to hold her hand on walks well into my 20’s). I remember being told I ate frog eyes when I brought tapioca pudding for lunch. (Which I continued to do whenever I was lucky enough to have tapioca pudding!) I remember being called ‘ugly’ in grade 8 by a guy I didn’t even know. But I was a little more concerned about poverty than I was about what some random dude said about me. I had peers who I connected with. And I also had my journal in which to spill my feelings and then feel good about being heard by ‘someone’. But it’s not always that simple or easy.

As parents, we need to be aware of what is happening in our kids’ lives especially when it comes to their encounters with their peers. I know I can’t know every single interaction that goes down, but I hope that I can lay the foundation for them to come to me if anything doesn’t feel good to them.

Hoping my kids always want to just be themselves – because they’re super awesome, dude! Peace out!

Pink Shirt Day, at the end of February, exists for a reason. I think we all need to be on board with that; we need to let our kids know that we stand in solidarity for them, but that they have the inner wisdom and strength to stand up for themselves, too.

It’s really tough to hear when someone’s child takes their own life because of the bullying of others, and my heart goes out to parents who have to pick up the pieces after that. Your child’s life mattered and continues to matter as we try to eradicate bullying.

I want to thank you for trekking along on this journey with me. Your comments and suggestions and check-ins are so welcomed and appreciated!

Have a great day and tell me what you had/are having for lunch today!

9 thoughts on “What Happened When I Sent Fish Cutlets To School

  1. Love the ideas of a food tasting station – I bet the kids would love that and it would get everyone more accustomed to different kinds of cuisines. So great that you check in with your kids everyday. Hopefully, this will make them feel comfortable coming to you with anything that might be an issue or concern i their lives.

    1. Hi Tazim – the way I view parenting is, you do the best you can but ultimately everyone is here on their own path, and everyone has a true Source from which they come and from which they receive guidance. The relief comes in moments when I give myself up to that idea. But checking in daily is something I can do and will do, and hope the outcome is what I think it will be: an open relationship! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. You’re absolutely right, kids will be kids. But I love the idea of introducing new and different foods with maybe a bit more explanation into where the food comes from and what it’s made of. Thanks for the follow up post! After reading the first one, I was wondering what happened!!

    1. Thanks, Parita! I remember in grade 4 we had a multicultural day and we each brought in food from our ethnic backgrounds. I wonder if they still do that?

  3. That’s so great what you’re doing! I agree, I want my kids to grow up and be comfortable and be able to deal with situations. Glad the chicken cutlets went over well. I have yet to put any indian food in their lunch!

    1. Hi Salma, whatever you decide to do is just right for you and your family. One thing this experience taught me is that I can’t protect my kids from things while I’m not around…but what will come through for them every time is their own self-confidence. So, perhaps my job is to simply foster that. Who knew this would all come out of one particular lunch? 🙂

  4. We can completely relate to the odd looks, though our little one – and his friends – aren’t talking just yet. But sending a baby to nursery with ground liver, chicken hearts and other healthy lunches definitely raises the eyebrows of his vegetarian teachers. We’re proud to be able to home cook all his meals no matter how non-mainstream they are. In a few years time when he’s the only little boy not eating a sandwich and donut after school – we avoid wheat and sugar – I’m sure he’ll be getting some comments as well. Thanks for the insight, so we can start preparing!

    1. Hi Amanda – thank you so much for stopping by! You just keep doing what’s right for your little one. As I said to Salma, I can’t protect my kids from reactions or situations when I am not there. But hopefully as your son grows, he will understand why his devoted mama does what she does for him and that alone will help him overcome anything. I appreciate you sharing!

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