Boundbytheword Blog

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The Weight of Words April 25, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Noelle Bickle / Abby Brooks @ 8:31 AM
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Driving home the other day, I had an interesting conversation with my son. After listening to Ryan Seacrest’s Sunday Top 40, one of his favourite songs  – We Are Young by Fun, comes on. We all love that song – it’s a catchy tune after all. Listen to it here.

The conversation gets interesting when Sam says to me, “Why did you tell Dad you like this song, but too bad about the lyrics?”

“Because it’s a drinking song, and tons of little kids are going around singing it now. Sort of weird.” I tell him.

“How is it about drinking?”

“It’s about everybody getting drunk and having to carry each other out at the end of the night. And at the beginning of the song, he talks about his girlfriend wearing a pair of sunglasses to hide a scar he gave her – so he’s a woman beater to boot.”

Sam is shocked.  “No – the part about sunglasses is code for a type of guy (apparently who thinks he’s über cool, but is a poser) , and he asks for a scar.” (which made no sense at all to me, but he insisted that was how it was worded).

When we came home, I googled the lyrics – and it turns out we were both right.

Give  me a second, I need to get my  story straight

My friends are  in the bathroom getting higher than the Empire State

my lover she’s  waiting for me just across the bar

My seats been taken by some sunglasses asking ’bout a scar

and I know I gave it to you months  ago

I know you’re trying to forget

but between the  drinks and subtle things

the holes in my apologies

you  know I’m trying hard to take it back

so if by the time the bar closes

and you feel like falling down

I’ll carry you  home


We are  young

So let’s set the world on fire

We can burn  brighter than the sun


Great song, very catchy tune, but really – these words are horrible for our kids to be chanting as an anthem. And I know perhaps my daughter doesn’t get the lyrics, and I guess my son didn’t either until I tuned him into it – but beyond my kids who are 9 and 12, endless teenagers  – who do understand the lyrics – have this looped on their iPods. And I don’t want to completely age myself as a fuddy-duddy here – but can’t we sing about love, lust, heart ache and good times without talking about violence and the acceptance of it? About falling down drunk being jolly and grand?

Here, let me beat you, lets all get drunk and forget about it – we’re young! Ugh.

I know, I know, we had those songs too  – I know you’ll remind me of some doozies. After all – in the 80’s bands like AC-DC, Nazareth, Black Sabbath ruled, and I guess they weren’t singing about apple pie and being kind to their women. But did they really openly confess to beating them and have us sing along? I could say I long for the good old days of George Micheal and Boy George – but I guess there may be arguments about intent there too.

I find it an odd predicament – as a writer, and one who facilitates writing workshops, I love when people delve into the dark places. I read or listen to their work and don’t feel like I’m condoning bad behavior or a contributing to a shift of acceptance of such in our society. But as a Mom who sings along to songs like this with her kids on a long car ride, it’s something that makes me cringe, but that tune is just so friggin’ catchy.

I do remember loving the song Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, and belting out the lyrics, and I guess that was about an assassin with bargain basement prices. But it was also the time of Bananarama, The Go Go’s and the rockers like Bryan Adams who could belt a tune, but not make my mother choke on the words being sung over the radio waves.

How about you readers? Do you remember songs you loved as a kid that make you cringe looking back?

Tell me the truth…am I showing my age?


Jiggin’ on Easter Candy April 20, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Noelle Bickle / Abby Brooks @ 12:30 PM
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The Easter chocolate is officially out of my house, which means I now have a sporting chance of getting onto my spring health kick. I’ve been avoiding stores – and therefore the Easter candy on sale in hopes that I can be done with my April sugar high. It’s so hard, isn’t it? Having a vice that rules your world?

I originally thought I could avoid the chocolate issue and just steer clear of most of my favourites. I gave up Easter Crème Eggs, and just plain avoided Laura Secord – which has my favourite of all favourites – the high end Easter crème egg if you will. The Easter bunny brought my kids a solid bunny, a hollow Belgium bunny, a big Secord crème egg, along with some jellies in eggs hidden around the house. I figured they’d go through it fast enough that my temptation to dip into their stash would be short-lived. But – this year Lainey decided she liked toys better than candy, so decided she’d sell her loot to the highest bidder in order to fund her hankering for Moshi Monsters – the new toy fad for 7-10 year olds.

Her Laura Secord Egg – which is my favourite but not apparently hers, was going for a dollar more than what the stores sold it for. Because I was jonesin’ for that damn egg I tried to reason with her on Saturday night right before family movie time.

“I can buy that for a dollar less at the store,” I said.

“Yeah, but you’d have to drive there which costs gas money, plus, you’d have to change out of your pajamas. That’s worth a dollar for sure.”

She had me there. The bad news is – that kid is one sneaky, money hungry little beast. The good news is that she’ll likely get a job as a lawyer and never have to worry about cash flow – especially if she continues on the path of master shark negotiator.

Regardless, there are no more traces of Easter chocolate in this house, so I am starting the day with good intentions to stay off that which I crave so desperately. Who knew chocolate would be such a monkey on my back? I was talking about it this week at the grocery store with the checkout girl, who admitted working amongst marked down Easter candy was hell. I believe her wholeheartedly. Anyway, the two of us – both quite obviously sugar lovers by the excess around our middles – were laughing and griping about the siren’s call of all things chocolate and how it’s so hard to kick it.  That’s when the trim, fit, spray-tanned woman behind me in line piped into our conversation.

“Have either of you tried a cleanse? It would get you on the right track, and your craving for sugar would be eliminated,” she smiled. She looked so pleased that all 110 pounds of her could contribute to our conversation and potentially save us from fat girl hell.

I wanted to tell her that I could snap her little bird-frame like a twig, and would do just that it she didn’t pipe down and back off. That’s exactly what two chunky monkeys want invading bonding over their sugar addiction – advice from a stick bug. Before I’d even fully registered what she’d said (because it always takes me a minute to absorb this kind of rude behavior from strangers), the checkout girl said – “I’ll stick to chocolate thanks.”

We laughed, the tanned stick bug soured, and that was the end of that. And I guess I have to wonder if people actually think they are being helpful, or if there is a self-serving sanctimonious thing happening there.  I’ve lived many years trim, fit, and even spray tanned – and also lived too many years now on the chunky monkey side of the fence – and I can tell you – when I was the stick bug, I didn’t offer advice to women who had weight to lose. Call it courtesy, call it compassion, call it a healthy fear of getting bopped in the nose, but I would never have been so smug to offer wisdom from the thin side. Then again, some skinny girls just don’t get it.

But I digress. Candy sales averted, I am starting down the right path. Again.




So much for customer service… April 18, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Noelle Bickle / Abby Brooks @ 9:25 AM

On the upside it took her just two days to reply to my email, but I can’t say I’m satisfied at all. No apology, no token of reimbursement, but she is still gives healthy dose of a her condescending tone and snotty attitude.  On top of everything else – there is no explanation why they would preview a 18A movie in an audience of PG movie goers. I’ve decided excuses and lack of accountability tops my list of “makes me ape-shit crazy”. Guess we go to round three. Suggestions, dear readers?

Dear Noelle,

Please be advised that a film’s trailer and the film itself are reviewed separately by the Ontario Film Review Board, as per the legal requirements placed on movie exhibition.  The trailer for Cabin in the Woods was rated PG in Ontario based on the content of the trailer.

However, prior to the release of the film, the film was reviewed by the Ontario Film Review Board, and received a different rating of 18A based on the content of the film.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the ratings of films and trailers, please visit the below website:


Samantha Weaver

Guest Services

Cineplex Entertainment


Dear Samantha,

Are you suggesting I contact the Ontario Film Review Board for customer service superior to what you are giving me in hopes of receiving a simple apology or expression of regret for the trailer played?

Interesting solution, but perhaps forwarding this email to your supervisor would be a better solution. Please do so.

Noelle F

Dragons are real… April 16, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Noelle Bickle / Abby Brooks @ 8:55 AM
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Funny thing about me. Most people would say I’m nice, and I am. Mostly.

But I have to admit, when my temper flares I go into dragon mode and I have a hard time not belching fire. Today’s inferno comes courtesy of our local movie theatre, or actually, from the corporate Guest Services of that said theatre. Sometimes I wonder if I get blinded by all the smoke and flames, but I have a hard time knowing. I often ask my husband for his read on it, but he’s so glad that I’m spewing rage in another direction that he just encourages me to keep on. I think he hopes the fire will run out before our next argument and he’ll be spared the scorch marks when he does something that wakes the dragon. (which has happened only a few times in 15 years – but enough times that he knows he sure doesn’t like it!)

So – I thought I’d share this with my loyal readers who so often offer their opinion which give me clarity. It’s like I have hundreds of Jiminy Crickets living in my laptop. I guess in a way it’s too late – I’ve already set the page ablaze, but at least I’ll know if I was irrational or unrealistic.  I’ve taken out the name of the theatre – for fear of being sued or banned. I’ve started with my first email, and ended with what I just sent. I’ll let you know what kind of response I get.

To: Guest Services

Subject: Feedback: Noelle F, Mar-25-2012

Topic:  Inappropriate content, Trailer shown in PG movie

My family visits our local theatre in Orillia on a very regular basis. Movies are a big part of our family entertainment and enjoyment. Yesterday I took my 13-year-old son and his friend to see the long awaited Hunger Games. Though the movie was rated PG, we’d read the books together so I knew the content would have violence some heavy content (which is I why I did not take my 9-year-old daughter, even though it was a PG movie.) My concern was not with the movie itself, but a trailer beforehand. The theatre played a trailer for The Cabin in the Woods – a movie not yet rated, but the poster out front had a R-rating for the US. I would place this movie in with any horror film – SAW, Scream, any of the 18+ or at the very least 14A movies. I would never expect it to be run in a PG movie.

I understand that trailers are geared towards the market of viewers that would likely return to the theatre – but my son would not be permitted to see that movie. If I was at home and that trailer came on, I would have changed the channel – and that would be on the tamer TV trailer version. It was offensive that we had to sit through it, and it hindered a movie experience that we’ve been looking forward to for months. I had to let you know, as I think it highly inappropriate to be showing this trailer in a PG rated film, and think it should be removed from the roster of trailers in this movie.

Thanks for your time, and I request feedback regarding this issue.



Sent: Sunday, April 15, 2012 5:58 PM
Subject:  Case #40576

Dear Noelle,

Thank you for contacting X Entertainment regarding your concerns about the trailers placed in front of The Hunger Games.

Please be assured that the trailers playing prior to the feature film, as well as the feature film itself, are rated PG.  Nevertheless, when our guests feel that the trailers have not been appropriately placed, we respond to their concerns.  If we find that a number of guests have the same concerns about a particular trailer we will advise the theatres to pull it from the performance.  With respect to your particular concerns, the trailers for The Cabin in the Woods will be removed from the performance.

Although it is difficult for us to anticipate the reactions of any one of our guests, We do strive to ensure that the pre-film material caters to the viewing audience.  If you wish to inquire about the pre-film material playing prior to a film you plan on attending, please feel free to contact the theatre or Guest Services and we can advise you accordingly.We appreciate you bringing your concerns to our attention and hope that we have addressed any concerns you may have on this matter.


Guest Services

Sent: Sunday, April 15, 2012 9:52 PM
Subject:  Case #40576

Dear Samantha,

No – actually, you have not addressed my concerns on this matter.

I just took 30 seconds and went onto your website and confirmed that The Cabin In the Woods (the movie trailer played at the PG-rated Hunger Games) is currently playing and is rated 18A, not PG as your email below states. I’m not sure if this was an error, if you didn’t take the time as I did to actually check the rating as posted on your website, or whether you thought just telling me this was a PG rated movie would appease my concerns. I certainly knew from sitting through the trailer, that it was in NO way a PG-rated movie because it was plainly a horror movie – one with severe and disturbing violence, and one that I would never have sat to witness, let alone have let my child view.

I certainly do not need to call the theatre in advance to check if the trailers are suitable, as you suggested below. I, like most paying customers, am going to assume that a huge corporation like XX will be diligent in choosing appropriate trailers as a courtesy and an obligation to their customers and their families. In case this is not clear – as your email seems to indicate – it is not acceptable to show a movie trailer rated 18A in a movie that is rated PG.

In case my hostility and irritation isn’t clear as well, let me spell it out for you – I am hostile and irritated. A substantial amount of our monthly family entertainment budget goes to XX, and I’m very frustrated that your office has tried to placate me with a feeble attempt at assuring me all PG films have PG trailers when that clearly was not the case on March 24th.

On a final note, I am surprised that my valid concern and complaint was not addressed with a simple apology for hindering our long-awaited Hunger Games movie night, and am disappointed that Guest Services would not send a family pass at the very least to make up for the distress caused that evening. I’m simply shocked at your dismissive email and the lack of customer service.

I hope it doesn’t take 3 weeks to hear back from you this time.



So I ask you dear readers…would you have complained? Would you have lost your nut with her email response, or should I give up my chocolate weaning in hopes that I will feel less bitter and combative?



A Walk on the Wild Side… April 13, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Noelle Bickle / Abby Brooks @ 10:33 AM
Tags: , ,

I evaded the law once again. I mean, today.


I just got back from my brisk morning walk with Maalik. Half an hour into our walk today, a white van slowed while approaching me. Now – I’m always a little leery of vehicles I don’t know stopping to chat. Something about my writer/freakazoid imagination assuming some maniac with a stun gun will try to take me down or something. But when I saw a logo on the side I relaxed – probably asking for directions, I thought. When I saw the guy smiling at my dog I assumed it was because he just witnessed me hugging my good ol’ Maalik (which sounds weird – but I was giving him props for not chasing a squirrel across the road when I knew he wanted to).


So here was this van with a logo pulling up, smiling at me and my dog, and he stops. Two cute young guys – maybe 25 years old – sitting in the front seat staring at me in my morning walk attire – yoga pants, unbrushed hair, hoodie, no bra. It could’ve been worse – I could’ve been in my other go-to walking outfit – which is pajamas with unbrushed hair and no bra. And I need to digress for one moment to defend myself, because I know some readers (not naming names, Mom) might be appalled that I wear pajamas in public – but here’s the thing: nobody around here cares. I walk down this road and meet up with farmers covered in cow crap, and elderly people who haven’t brushed their hair yet either. On occasion, someone will stop on their way to work who acts neither surprised or amused – either because they’ve seen it too many times to be surprised, or because they’d be doing the same thing on a different day. I’ve seen more of my neighbours in P.J’s or covered in kaka than I can count. In this community – casual is the appropriate word. I might even venture to say it straddles on weird. Heck – just last weekend my hubby was washing his car in a T-shirt and underwear, when our neighbour came over to drop off some maple syrup. I was up on the porch writing (in my pajamas) and mocked him for standing there unabashed in his gotchies. We all laughed, and then they just continued the conversation. Yeah, okay – weird may be the word – but I’m just saying, walking in pajamas isn’t so odd when you live in Boonville.


So back to the cuties in the van.


“Does your dog have a leash?” the one asks.


Of course I have a leash for my dog. It’s buried in my van somewhere for when we take him someplace that actually does require a leash, but down my country line? No – I have never walked him with a leash down this road. That’s when I look at the logo. Crap – it’s a town van. So I lie.


“Yes, of course,” I say. “Of all days for you to see me… I just had to run something to my neighbour – she broke her leg.”


So – here’s the thing – my neighbour did break her leg, but I didn’t take anything to her. In fact, I heard about her leg from the farmer down the road and I haven’t even stopped in or sent a card. So not sure why that’s what I blurted, except I was standing in front of her house and that’s what came out of my mouth. I might go to bad neighbour hell for that fib.


“Well Ma’am,” he says, and this is when I become painfully aware that I am bra-less and unbrushed, and therefore a ma’am. “Your dog needs to be on a leash at all times when you aren’t on your property, okay? You wouldn’t want him to get hit by a car.”


“Oh no, of course not. But he always stays right with me.”


This is another lie (reread above why I just gave my dog a hug). This is also the cue for me to look down at Maalik, but he isn’t beside me anymore. He’s wandered around the other side of the truck and being petted by the driver. Doh! Damn dog!


I gave up on lying, just apologised and said I’d be sure to have him on leash from now on. Well, I guess I didn’t really give up on lying though because I won’t be walking my dog on leash either. But I will probably have a leash in my pocket in case they come driving down the road again and decide to fine me for my resisting, rule-breaking, lying ways. They might even fine me for not wearing a bra.  So now – between the bear spray, the dog deterrent, the fog horn, the cell phone and the leash, I’ll look more like Batgirl with a belt full of tricks than a pajama wearing dog walker. I guess I can be thankful that I’m at least no longer a city dweller where there are more rules I’d be breaking and people I’d be offending.


I guess that’s what a girl gets for trying to burn off her Easter indulgences.



Hot Mama or Skinny Bitch? April 4, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Noelle Bickle / Abby Brooks @ 11:36 AM
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I’ve taken up a new hobby with my youngest daughter. The last thing I need is another mug or trinket, and pottery-making may be slow placed and a bit more Martha Stewart than I’d normally go for, but it gives us several hours of peaceful concentrated time together and lends itself to great conversation to boot.


For our family, craft making has always been bomb-dropping time. For some reason – I think because I’m looking at them but not looking AT them – they choose craft time (or while I’m driving) to tell me about good news, bad news and the occasional jaw-dropping news. It’s great too, because you can sit for an extended amount of time saying nothing at all because your hands are busy and there is no awkwardness with the silence. So I’m all for crafts, and the current one is pottery at the Creative Cafe in town.


Last time we were in, Lainey and I had just settled into our seats when she started talking about kids on the bus being mean. Seems two girls and a boy in grade four who sit behind her and her buddy have been teasing and tormenting them during the ride. What probably started as trivial remarks that may have been dismissed or ignored by a meek or more timid type of kid has resulted in them poking the bear. My daughter can be shy and reserved, but she can be fierce and competitive as well, and she doesn’t take kindly to taunts. We had a long discussion about their actions, her reactions, and what to do next (I also put my son on watchdog patrol for the next week so I have a better handle of what’s happening on that bus). It was another reminder of how much unfolds from within my kids when they have a craft in hand. A magical sort of key it seems.


Anyway – we were about an hour in when a woman came into the cafe with a young boy – maybe four years old. They were quite the good-looking mum and son – she was about my age (though I often forget I am 43, she was more like 35). She was rockin’ the skinny jeans and black heeled boots. She had long shiny hair,  perfectly manicured nails, lipsticked lips, and had an amazing purse that I’m sure cost a couple c-notes. I hated her on the spot. Her son was cute as a button – like a little prince Harry. Auburn hair covered by a little newsboy cap, little button nose, lips like his mother (minus the honeysuckle lipstick). The apple didn’t fall far from the tree – they looked like a GAP ad. After she got the rundown on how the place worked, she told her son that they were going to paint something for Daddy’s birthday.


“Pick something – what do you think Daddy would like?”


The walls are lined with shelves of unpainted pottery of varying prices. I give Lainey a $20 limit. She can choose one piece for $20 or choose a number of pieces that add up to $20. On this day, she only had $18 to use because the last time she had talked me into a $22 piece that she loved, so I agreed on the condition that the next time she’d have $2 less to play with. I had a moment of sheepishness when the mother set no rule on his selection – lucky kid – but then I brushed it off. After all – she looked like money probably wasn’t something she worried about much.


The little guy was bouncing – or skipping actually – he was so happy.  “I pick for Daddy?”

“Yes,” she said. “Pick something nice, and then you can paint it for Daddy.”

He looked up and down the shelves and let out a little squeal when he came upon a football. “That one!”

“The football?”

“Yup. Football.”

“Are you sure?” His Mom said, clearly not amused by the thought of a $7 ceramic football uglifying her mantle.

“Yup. I’m sure. Football.”


Hot Mama convinces him to look a bit more just in case, and he goes on to choose a spiderman bank, then a dragon figurine, and then the piece that had sent him over the edge – the $45 pirate ship. With each choice, hot mama questions his selection. Are you sure? Do you think he’d like that one? Don’t you want to look some more? Are you really sure that’s what you want? It was a tireless effort on her part to get him to choose the coffee mug that said DAD in bold letters. With every new choice he made, she’d give him the drill (albeit in a lovely, concerned tone) that maybe Daddy would like something else, that maybe there was something a little better, that maybe they should look some more, and that the mug she had in her hand sure was nice…but what did he want to give Daddy?


And I got to the point where I just wanted to scream at her – “Hey you skinny bitch – he WANTS to give Daddy the friggin’ football!”


But of course, I’m far more polite than that – at least externally – and so I said nothing. Lainey and I exchanged glances a few times, and after 10 minutes or so of it, she whispers to me, “Why doesn’t she just pick if she doesn’t really want him to do it?”  And I told her the truth – she wants him to pick, but to pick the one she wants him to. To which Lainey rolled her eyes and made the crazy sign on the side of her head. And although externally far less polite than me, she made a good point. It’s an interesting thing that parents do: give their children choices without ever intending to let them choose.


At the end of the day – the manicured mom choose the DAD mug (which frankly wasn’t any less tacky than the football – we were in a pottery shop after all) and held the paintbrush in the boy’s hand as he painted. It came out looking like the something you’d buy at Pier One (if Pier One sold tacky DAD mugs). Hot mama looked pleased as punch and the boy looked like he’d just finished watching a Mr. Rogers’ Neighbourhood marathon. Don’t get me wrong – I love me some Mr. Rogers, and spent many a day mesmerized by his ultra-kind ways. He was a form of medication for hyperactive kids everywhere – but let’s be honest – he knew how to bring a kid down to ground level. That’s just about where the wee Harry -lookalike was sitting. He’d been zombified.


It was sad to see a boy skip in joyful, but slink out defeated in a place where magical moments about simply nothing often happen between me and my daughter. Hot Mama looked so flawless and perfect I immediately envied her, but she’d missed the best part about bringing your kids to a creative space. Somehow I can’t help thinking that Dad would have been better off with a glazed football painted in messy hand.


But then who I am to judge? I’m just an easter creme egg addicted woman in yoga pants and an old pair of Converse, trying to help my daughter maneuver through grade school.


Daily dose of torture… April 2, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Noelle Bickle / Abby Brooks @ 10:48 AM
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Making the kids’ lunches. Lord, how I hate making the kids lunches. It’s a task more tedious, taxing, and thankless than any other. Gone are the days of a brown bagging a PB&J, a cookie and apple . No  – making a lunch is far more complicated than that. I’ve seen lunch making evolve over generations too – since my oldest daughter just turned 26 (ahhhh! I know, scream with me!) and my youngest is just 9 – I can tell you – times have changed.


Let’s start with the lunches I went to school with. I lived in a rural community and I walked home for lunch from grade 1-3. My mom always had home cooked meals waiting for me when I walked in the door (she happens to be Midas in the kitchen). The upside  – amazing meals and a connection to home midday. The downside – not only was I late most days when school started, but was late after lunch too, giving my teachers a great reason to go for a second round of apeshit angry. What can I say  – bulrushes, ice puddles, and grasshoppers are distracting for a kid with ADD. It’s like I travelled back and forth through wonderland a few times a day and was expected to rush back to be put in lockdown. It’s a miracle I ever made it back to class.  As an aside – I think it’s very interesting that the teachers (except one) never made a stink to my parents about me being late – which I think in retrospect means my absence from the structured classroom, even for fifteen or twenty minutes was a welcome break.


I digress. Junior grades – I came home for lunch. From grades 4-8, I rode the bus to a school further away, so no coming home. I brown bagged it in an actual brown bag – although I do remember a yellow handled metal lunchbox for some time –  have no idea what it had on the front. Maybe Fat Albert? Maybe Bionic Woman? Regardless, it was short-lived (I probably broke it the same week I got it), and I remember unfolding the top of a small brown bag for years of lunch time meals. My mother was into healthy (non-processed) eating so you could always find carrot sticks (not the baby carrots, but the whole carrots, peeled and cut), a piece of fruit, a home-made cookie and a sandwich in the bag. I only had two kinds of sandwiches I would eat – peanut butter with grape jelly or bologna. The bologna had to be between two slices of plain white wonder bread. No butter, no mustard – nothing. I still remember how it tasted in mouth – which makes sense  – because I probably ate about 2000 of them during my school years. And as much as it pained my mother to send such a pithy of a sandwich when my sister went off with cream cheese on rye, or a thermos of something warm, bologna was alright by me. I do remember envying two classmates with working moms who came with pre-packaged hostess cakes, but since that was  a main staple of their daily brown bag, they were always eager to trade them away for a homemade chocolate chip or peanut butter cookie. Ahhh, the simple days.


Flash forward to my daughter Heather’s lunch days. She had the metal or plastic lunch boxes with whatever fad was current, and got a new lunch box every year. In terms of eats – she was the kind of kid who was more than happy with a PB&J most days, though she always did favour a warm soup in a thermos. Again though – pretty easy -she liked the same stuff everyday. It probably helped that on and off over the years I lived with my parents – which means my mother would have been packing the grub for her as a favour to me  – which let’s face it – is the easiest way to get through lunch making. The great thing about these lunch making days though – there were no restrictions about what you could and couldn’t bring, and no expectations about what they should or shouldn’t have packed in there. And lo and behold she grew up healthy and normal! Go figure!


Let’s look at the lunch routine of my two kids at home now. They’re both in public school and bus it – so no cafeteria and no coming home for meals. I pack them a lunch (in a trendy and multi-pocketed insulated lunch bag) that matches their backpack, and normally has to be replaced by the end of the year based on how ripped to bits it starts looking around March. We can’t send peanut butter (or anything with peanuts or nuts in it or near it). They get two nutrition breaks which are 20 minutes each, but that includes going into the hall and getting your lunch, bringing it back to your desk, deciding what to eat out of it, eating, and packing up again to go outside. So the kids today get about 4 minutes to wolf down something twice a day. The school requests you bring garbage-less lunches, which means you are taking pre-packaged stuff out of the package at home and putting into plastic containers, not a Ziploc bag (which is garbage) and you do this so you don’t look like a hater of the environment. The school wants the kids to have healthy choices – so you have to pack “good enough” stuff that your kids will actually eat it, but “good enough” stuff that the school doesn’t accuse you of feeding your kid all crap.


I’ve heard stories of teachers confiscating certain items out of  lunch bags – deeming them “bad choices”, but that has yet to happen at our school or to my kids It’s too bad in a way, because on occasion I like the excuse to go totally postal – and that would certainly be the ticket to get me there. I admit – I don’t send my kids complete garbage like candy or chocolate or deep fried sandwiches to school – but I can tell you that if I did, my kids would have the right to eat it, or by god – someone would feel my mama bear wrath.


On top of all the restrictions and requirements imposed on families by the schools these days, I also have an in-house struggle with lunch making. My kids don’t like the same thing every day. They have their favourites  – Lainey loves a bagel and cream cheese, Sam loves a tuna fish sandwich, they both love a veggie fajita,  but they don’t want any two lunches the same in a week, and as a must – neither of them wants deli meat on a bun more than once a week. So every day I have to think of another great plan for the lunch menu. It’s exhausting and quite honestly I live for pizza day, hotdog day, pita day or any other day where I can send a few bucks and get a break from being the lunch lady.


If we look at the change in schoolyard lunches as a measuring stick for how much our world has evolved – I’d say things are going turning to muck. Like a processed pudding cup left out in the sun. I long for the lunch days of bologna and plenty of peanuts. Where have those good ol’ days gone?