Today I let J get hot lunch at school today for the first time.
After his first day of school, we sat down with the monthly lunch menu and he decided which days he wanted to have the hot lunch and which days he wanted to bring something from home. Later that night, I went online and set up his lunch money account. (Our district recently joined http://www.mylunchmoney.com/, which lets parents deposit money into a PIN-accessed account. Parents can see what items their children have ordered over the past seven meal days, as well as restrict what can be purchased - meals only vs. a la carte items, etc.)
This morning, J asked me if he could get ice cream or a popsicle with his lunch. I immediately wondered if hot lunch, and the debit account in particular, was a really bad idea. I told him no, he could only get what was part of the lunch - chicken nuggets, vegetables, fruit, and milk. He immediately asked if he could get chocolate milk (I said yes), and then said that the ice cream is part of the meal.
I told him that if ice cream or a popsicle is part of his meal, and if he ate all of the rest of his meal - the chicken nuggets AND the broccoli - then he could have an ice cream.
On and off all day, I wondered if J was going to have ice cream with his lunch.
I know, not the hill to die on, but I knew that this would be one of those turning points for J - would he do the right thing, or would he give in to temptation? And would the teachers, cafeteria staff, and parents let him?
After J got off the bus, I asked him about his day. I especially grilled him about lunch (I know). Earlier this morning he expressed concern about what to do when in line for hot lunch, so I wanted to make sure he didn't have any problems. I asked him what he ate, and he told me that he had....
Chicken nuggets, broccoli and carrot sticks, and chocolate milk. No ice cream.
I'm so proud of J. I realize that this isn't really a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but I am really pleased that I know I can trust him to do the right thing (ie, not get junk instead of food for lunch) when I'm not there to guide him. I know there are many days left in the school year, and many more opportunities to get that ice cream instead of the nachos, but this is a good start. (I suppose warning him that if I find out that he had ice cream instead of the chicken nuggets and broccoli, it would be the end of hot lunch was a good thing, too).