Heater, Mother of Lance

The good news

For those of you who heard the squeals of joy yesterday, it’s because pizza was on the menu in the cafeteria. PIZZA. Kind of like The Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, except a little less religious and totally edible.


That’s what I woke up to yesterday morning: Leta’s face two inches from mine in the dark. Not at all startling. I said, well, good morning to you, too, and no, I did not know about the pizza but something tells me you’re pretty excited about it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to peel myself off of the ceiling.

We’re using peer pressure to our parental advantage and have forced Leta to eat lunch from the menu in the cafeteria. No packed lunches. When we first considered this, we sort of felt like we were about to drop a bomb on an unsuspecting country. And then the citizens would revolt by staging a hunger strike.

But we held our breath and sent her to school WITHOUT PROCESSED FOOD OMG. Would she return ten pounds lighter, her hair falling out in dry, matted chunks?

You guys, Leta touched a turkey sandwich. Also? She totally tried “this, like, weird, like, pasta thing, or something.” And every day when we pick her up from school she says, “Do you want the good news or the bad news first?” I always ask for the good news so that I can prepare and physically brace myself for what is surely news that will grind the rotation of the earth to a halt, but it’s always something like, “Didn’t like the salad stuff in the taco.”

Can I get a resounding PHEW! I’m enjoying these days when something like that is her bad news and not a phone call that begins, “Um, yeah. Like, so. You didn’t need the bumper on the car, right?”

  • WindyLou

    2010/09/17 at 9:55 am

    That’s really good news!

    Hallie came home on her first day of Kindergarten and posed the same question to my parents. The good news was that she didn’t have to go to the Principal’s office. The bad news was that she had to stand in the corner for a long time because she was talking too much.

    So at least Leta didn’t hit you with THAT.

  • Schnauzie_Mom

    2010/09/17 at 10:14 am

    Oh my gosh, pizza day caused mass chaos at my school…except it was high school and there were 18 yr old guys fighting each other to be first in line. Ahh memories:-)

  • writtendad

    2010/09/17 at 10:15 am

    That’s great! We tried that with our son when he started 1st grade (same age as Leta) but he wouldn’t do it. He refused outright. Claiming to fear the bigger kids. You know, the knife-wielding 3rd grades and such. So it’s still packed lunches for him. Sometimes he’ll claim to be excited about the next day’s selection, but he always changes his mind by morning. Hopefully that will change.

    But I’m glad you get to bask in not having to assemble lunch in the morning. Go Leta!

  • hmccreary

    2010/09/17 at 10:16 am

    I’m so glad Leta has decided to try more food. HUGE accomplishment! Also, pizza day at school totally kicks ass.

  • Greta Koenigin

    2010/09/17 at 10:21 am

    PHEW PHEW PHEW PHEW. Every kid hates that salad stuff. The lunch menu makeover is very bad news. Where’s the Pepsi machine?

  • kacyd

    2010/09/17 at 10:27 am

    I think you may have inspired me to try this with my son, he is so much like how you describe Leta…won’t eat but about 5 things….we are supposed to send a snack each day to school and the teacher says its supposed to be “healthy”, are fruit snacks healthy??

  • Krys72599

    2010/09/17 at 10:32 am

    Wow, at 6 years old you’re already preparing yourself for the bumper phone call???
    Might I mention, and I really don’t want to cause you 11 years of anticipatory agony, but expecting the phone call doesn’t make it any easier.
    And the bumper is ALWAYS discretionary!
    It’s the kid on the other end of the phone you’d miss a whole heck of a lot more! Our version of the phone call, once each from two different kids, included the phrase “but the deer came out from nowhere, I swear!”

  • proudmary

    2010/09/17 at 10:39 am

    I’ve been debating doing this same thing with my own picky eater…kindergarten seemed like already a lot of new things going on, so maybe next year. Thanks for the inspiration, though…good to know that others have more than gently nudged their kids to be more culinarily adventurous.

  • adamsrice

    2010/09/17 at 10:49 am

    Hopefully there are no calls asking you to bail her out of jail for getting too rowdy with “the girls”.

    The only thing I’ve to worry about so far is giving soft foods for my teething toddler. I’m sure you can relate.

  • Tobie

    2010/09/17 at 10:57 am

    That’s so cute that that was “the bad news.” Awww 🙂

  • apostate

    2010/09/17 at 11:15 am

    My son just started 1st grade. He has major sensory issues along with his high functioning autism and he just started school lunch last week at his very small private school. On Friday he took a bite of his philly cheese steak sandwich. Yesterday he took a few bites of a tuna melt. You could have knocked me down with a feather when I heard that. Seriously. Every day his teacher insists that he try at least one bite and HE DOES IT. In the words of his teacher: “He wasn’t happy with me. But he did it.” The difference is that at home, he simply won’t. He’ll go 48 hours w/o food if necessary. He’s been this way since infancy. 2nd percentile.
    The PEER PRESSURE has actually worked better for us than the OT, which has been somewhat effective.
    Having a kid with SID is not the same as having a finicky child. I wish people understood that.
    School lunch is $2.50/day and more effective than all the OT I have paid for (and it’s been a substantial amount out of pocket) up until this point.
    My son is 30 lbs and in the first grade. Last night I sewed new waistbands into all of his school pants so that they don’t fall down! Of course, they had to be encased in microfleece because of the sensory issues. But they stay up and they don’t scratch. 🙂

  • tonya

    2010/09/17 at 11:12 am

    My oldest, now a fourth grader, LOVES school lunches. If it’s served on a school tray, it’s all good with her. My youngest just started kindergarten, and will eat ONLY when hot dogs are served. The rest of the time, it’s a packed lunch with a thermos containing Easy Mac. The only other option is PB&J, which is not an option due to a classmate’s peanut allergy. Cracks me up that they have such diverse eating habits!

  • Mo

    2010/09/17 at 11:52 am

    Dude. You couldn’t have paid me to take a packed lunch when I was a kid. I loved school food.

    …doesn’t say much for my mom’s lunch packing abilities, I guess.

  • mycouchhascrumbs

    2010/09/17 at 12:53 pm

    I’m anxious to see if this is what we will be dealing with when my now three year old heads to school. His menu right now is very selective. It includes pizza, mac and cheese, bbq kielbasa, hotdogs, pop tarts, pop corn, and cheese balls. I worried about this for a long time, but a few weeks ago I decided that I would go all the way back to when you started blogging, and read all the way through(I found this site in 07 when i was pregnant with my first son, and had gone back to about when you had Leta) because, well, I adore you. When I started reading about you deciding to let go of her eating habits, it made me feel so much better. And thats what I have done, and it really has made a huge difference. He eats what he likes, and fills his belly, and that makes me happier than any thing. I just want you to know that you have helped me know in a million ways that I’m doing alright. Thank you for that Heather.

  • PDXmp

    2010/09/17 at 12:57 pm

    lots of finicky eaters out there in the 1st grade. My daughter is no exception. Funded her lunch account last year, thinking she would be STOKED to buy lunch at school LIKE THE BIG KIDS (aka her brother, who loves the breakfast-for-lunch option). No dice. She REFUSES to buy lunch at school, to the point where I finally transferred most of the money in her account to her brothers account so it wouldn’t go to waste. If it comes in a package, she’ll eat it. She loves hotdogs and chicken nuggets, but won’t go for them at school. EVEN IF HER FRIENDS DO. She’s a *stubborn, independent* picky eater, my girl. Peer pressure? Nope. Doesn’t work for us. Which will be good in the future, but not now. She doesn’t like sandwiches, either, so she gets a yogurt in her lunch – vanilla only – every.single.day. And I have to pack the spoon because she won’t get up to get the spork at school. She’d rather NOT eat than get the spork. And she doesn’t eat fruit in it’s natural state – but will eat any flavor of fruit leather there is (stretch island fruit leathers – ingredients = fruit and lemon juice. that’s it!). A cheese stick, juice, and goldfish crackers round out her daily meal. But if she doesn’t eat everything I pack for her, no snacks after school until her lunchbox is empty. That’s the deal.

    I’m so glad Leta is staying open to new things!!

  • coreylambert

    2010/09/17 at 1:17 pm

    I thought I loved Pizza Day in high school until I discovered Vodka Day in college.

  • LeighInez

    2010/09/17 at 2:11 pm

    Was it square pizza? My husband still talks about square lunch pizza from his school cafeteria. He was even able to convince the lunch lady in high school to give him a whole sheet of square pizza to take home. That is some square pizza love.

  • addtova

    2010/09/17 at 2:53 pm

    Glad to hear Leta is eating! Now that you know how well the peer pressure works, I can’t wait to hear what else you will use it for.

  • Johannie

    2010/09/17 at 11:56 pm

    Although I am not a fan of overly processed food for any meals….. lunch at school is only one meal, is my new theory. My kids’ school doesn’t have a lunch program, so…. we pack them everyday.

    I am happy that Leta is eating better.

    We can’t send a lot of stuff to school because of nut allergies, which does make a lot of things pretty challenging.

    My kids don’t eat sandwiches much either (well they like Grilled cheese)

    So we send a lot of little snacks. that has been the saving grace so to speak.

    Crackers and cheese, one fruit, one veggie, drink and a treat (granola bar or cookies) and sometimes a hot lunch with soup or something like that.

    If your kids won’t eat real fruit then you might have issues. It’s a hard habit to break but you’ve got to keep trying!

    Kids will eat when they are hungry enough… make good healthy choices for your whole family. It work eventually!

  • Cheryld

    2010/09/18 at 12:32 am

    I have a daughter on the autism spectrum. She’s actually a pretty good eater, just tends to like the generic kid meals. I’ve found school lunches to be a great way to expand her eating. Last year, in kindergarten, she really got into big salads (reminds me of Elaine on Seinfeld). She didn’t always like everything she tried, but at least she was willing to try!

    A lot of kids do expand the foods they eat as they get older. I’m sure your daughter will too!


  • sarahdoow

    2010/09/18 at 4:21 am

    Hurray for peer pressure!

  • SOLO dot MOM

    2010/09/18 at 7:46 am

    Oh I can so relate. Grateful for these days of bad news is ‘so and so isn’t my friend’ and “hate the school’s idea of ‘entree.'”

    But I only have a few months till my oldest is driving and asking to borrow my only vehicle.

    Yeah, I’m not nervous, nor dreading that one! Psych.

  • ShainaLoves

    2010/09/18 at 1:26 pm

    Ha, i would have starved if my parents had made me buy school lunch. literally. i have never eaten pizza, or red meat, or vegetables. I didn’t even eat french fries for the longest time! It was PB&J, pudding, fruit snacks, etc for me every day…and for the longest time i threw away the sandwich (still feel guilty about that to this day) because i didnt like it soggy and was too stubborn/ashamed to tell my parents so theyd come up with a better option. I only bought school lunch in elementary school maybe once a year on my bday (pb&j of course…this was before peanut allergies were such a big deal), and in middle school or hs only when there was breakfast for lunch or mozzerella sticks. bet i saved my parents a crapton of money though!

    glad it’s working for Leta!

  • Curiosity

    2010/09/18 at 8:52 pm

    I totally touched a turkey sandwich last week. Thank you for making me feel proud.

  • mandinka

    2010/09/19 at 11:34 am

    Don’t worry about the bumper.
    Worry about when she’s 16 and calls you at 2am from the next state and tells you that she and her friends are out of gas and could you go to Western Union and wire her some money to get home.

    (I really am sorry about that, Mom.)

  • Laura Jones

    2010/09/19 at 4:22 pm

    You closed comments on arachnid? My God that was so funny! I laughed and laughed. Made my evening. I had a fear of soldier ants (courtesy of Tarzan sitcom) and wouldn’t go to my parents room ’cause I couldn’t see if they were on the floor or not.

  • GrubStreetNM

    2010/09/20 at 9:11 am

    Dooce, before you push the school food too much, please watch the documentary “Killer at Large: Why Obesity is America’s Greatest Threat.” I just happened to see it yesterday streamed from Netflix. There were many things I wish I’d seen when my kids were eating caf. food. One way to get stuff out of a home diet might be to set a date on which that item won’t be served anymore at home — say ‘tater tots. Tell her that on(whatever day) the family will be eating store-bought ‘tater tots for the last time and saying goodbye to them, because now that she’s growing up she needs different kinds of food, even including tater items made at home. Which she can help make, by the way. If she’s like my son was, she needs time to get used to new things. Just some thoughts.

  • TexasKatie

    2010/09/20 at 1:50 pm

    That’s cool… except for the fact that school lunches are the most unhealthy options out there. Laden with preservatives and fat. Blech. I always suggest people are better off packing their kids’ lunches.

    Glad that she is eating more than just refried beans now, though! Baby steps!!!

  • EmPops

    2010/09/21 at 9:47 am

    I can see that other people have already said how unhealthy school meals are so I’m not going to harp on about it. But this documentary series by Jamie Oliver has just started over here in England and I was wondering if you’d seen it.
    He went into schools and tried to change their eating habits, he did it over here first and even managed to get the government to increase school meals budget so kids could have healthier food. I hope that he manages the same in America too!


  • cadavis

    2010/09/21 at 11:15 am

    Her lunch room habits totally remind me of myself when I was her age. I was an extremely picky eater. My mom would make me lunches full of junk food and one fruit cup with a metal spoon, in a paper bag no less. After I finished and threw all my trash away I thought, “Now what am I supposed to do with this metal spoon all day? Carry it in my pocket? Nah, my mom won’t notice this one missing,” and I tossed it in the trash. I tossed all spoons/forks in the trash every day thereafter until my mother noticed our silverware drawer full of knives and I was the culprit. ha. So I was forced to eat from the cafeteria from there on out. I prayed that we had pizza and fries every day but of course, we didn’t. We had tacos, but I saw green lettuce so I looked the other way. We had cake but it had nuts in it, so I headed straight to the drink line. I lived off 3 cartons of chocolate milk for as long as I can remember. I never told my mother, saved all that lunch money and make cheese hot dogs every day when I got home. I was such a clever kid. I wonder what happened?:) If Leta starts buying you really nice birthday presents or offers up her half of has money she just might be milking it through lunch, litterally:)!

  • winecat

    2010/09/21 at 3:40 pm

    Yea for Leta! Nothing like a little trial by fire to make one adapt : )

  • apostate

    2010/09/21 at 3:57 pm

    With all due respect, a lot of the things Heather has said about her daughter’s eating habits and other habits (unwillingness to touch grass) make me willing to bet that she has sensory issues.
    It doesn’t work very well to dictate to children with sensory issues what they “will” or “will not” eat or when or how. Telling them to kiss a particular food goodbye can be tantamount to telling them to kiss eating goodbye. And it can likely lead to bigger control issues. And it’s easier said than done when you have a child who’s perfectly willing not to eat for 36 hours. Parents who spend tons of time and money on occupational therapy know this.
    The healthiness of school lunches varies from school to school. I’m pretty sure I remember hearing that Heather and Jon have chosen a private school. We have no reason to believe the lunches served there are unhealthy.
    Having a child with sensory issues try a bite of a new food is a victory that most parents take for granted.
    Heather, congratulations on the huge victory. Sometimes you have to work with what you have to work with and not what other people have to work with.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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