Mom Inc.

Lunchbox Wars

Win some, lose some, some go into extra innings

By Renee Whitmore

“Where is it, Kevin?”

“Where is what?”

“My lunchbox — I know you took it and hid it somewhere. It’s not funny.”

“No, I did not.”

“Where is it?”

“I don’t know, David!”

“You hid it — I know you did!”

“I did not take your stupid lunchbox!” he yelled as he stomped off to his room.

I sat on the couch, grading papers on my computer, trying to ignore it all.

“Mom, I know he took it. He thinks he’s funny, and he’s not. Who else would take it?”

“Did you leave it in the car?” I asked, without looking up from my computer.

He headed out the front door to check the backseat of the car, opening the door and slamming it shut at ludicrous speed. “It’s not in the car,” he said.

“Did you leave it at school?”

“No,” he frowned, considering. “I don’t think so. I guess it could be in the wrestling room.”

“Well, look tomorrow. You can put your lunch in a Walmart bag.”

“OK,” he murmured.

That night we looked around for the missing lunchbox, but it was nowhere to be found. The next morning, I put his ham, cheese and ranch dressing sandwich, peanuts, Pringles and an apple — that I knew he wouldn’t eat — in a plastic Walmart bag and handed it to him.

When I picked him up from wrestling practice, the first thing I asked was if he found his lunchbox. Nope. Still missing in action.

That evening I packed the boys’ lunches for the next day (I really feel like I have my life together when I do that), and looked around some more, but no lunchbox. Another Walmart bag it was.

The next day after school it was time to do a grid search of all known or suspected lunchbox locations. Everywhere we could think of — under the car seats, in his room, in the living room, in the bathroom, under the bed — it could be anywhere.

Finally, I decided I was tired of looking for it. I said a small prayer over its memory, praised it for its long and devoted service, and told him I’d pick him up another lunch box at Walmart for five bucks.

“I’ll get another one at the store,” I told him.

“I liked that one,” he said, and then he mumbled something about Kevin hiding it and how ridiculous it was that Kevin still plays these types of games.

Whatever. I scratched “lunchbox” on my Walmart list. Before I left, I asked David to unload the dishwasher.

“When will you be home?” he asked. He wanted to wait until the last second, of course, hoping to coincide placing the last dish in the cupboard with the sound of me turning the doorknob.

“I don’t know. It could be 20 minutes — it could be an hour,” I said as I grabbed my keys.

I barely made the Walmart parking lot when I got a text message from David:

“Kevin hid my lunchbox he lied”

I sighed. “How do you know?” I texted.

“Bc I was unloading the dishes and put the strainer thing up and”

His message, cut short for dramatic effect. It was followed by a picture.

The picture showed the pots and pans piled on top of each other in the cupboard — a strainer tossed on top — and near the back, between the lids, there was a splash of blue. The missing lunchbox.

Had I put his lunchbox in the cupboard without thinking? Hell, I found cereal in the refrigerator the other day that I put away with the milk.

“Don’t blame Kevin. I might have put it in there,” I texted.

“He did it hes laughing about it,” David replied.

I took my pen and scratched lunchbox off my grocery list. At least I hadn’t lost my mind. Yet.

The next day David sent a text from school: “there was a wasp in my lunchbox kevin put it in there”

And away we go.  PS

When Renee isn’t teaching English or being a professional taxi driver for her two boys, she is working on her first book.

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