Friday, February 27, 2009

The secret is out...

As I stand at the school gates waiting to pick the little ladies up for lunch, I can't help feeling proud of how well they've integrated. I watch as they run around with their friends, playing games and jabbering away in French, oblivious to the fact that they are cross-cultural kids- part American, part English, French-born.

But as the gates open and the kids come spilling out for lunch, I know that underneath their outward appearances of being just like any of their French friends, there lies a dirty little secret. Because while their friends head home to eat a hot, homemade 3- course lunch, my girls will come home to a very different plat du jour.

A normal school day lunch chez nous usually consists of a sandwich (with pb&j being the preferred choice), some fruit, some cheese, maybe some cold ham, and a handful of nuts or Bugles. If I'm feeling a bit indulgent, they may get a bowl of hot soup, but this is usually the extent of a 'hot lunch' at our house.

You see, I guess old habits die hard. The light lunch, big dinner habits of my lifetime are being passed onto my kids, even though we are living in the world of eating lunch like a Prince, dinner like a pauper. I just can't seem to shake my ingrained belief in the notion that it is really a full, hot dinner that forms the cornerstone of a good day.

Dinner is given an incredible amount of thought in our house, from finding new recipes to looking forward to what's for dinner each night. Lunch, not so much. And I know, I know, it is so much healthier to eat the French way, it just seems to be one of the hardest habits from the old country to kick.

The other mothers haven't discovered our awful secret yet. Play dates at our house are conveniently scheduled for either the morning up until lunch, or for the afternoon directly after lunch. I'm too worried that the secret of what we eat for lunch will get out and sweep the village. Oh, the shame of it.

I know my children eat well. While their lunch might not be hot or extravagant, it's usually well-balanced and wholesome. But am I doing a disservice to them, raising them in France but serving them an American lunch?


Jennie said...

I hate the idea of eating a big lunch and a small dinner. It doesn't seem healthier to me. I always feel sick if I eat a big lunch, and then tired the rest of the day. And I'm always starving at night, so I need to eat lots before I go to bed or my stomach will hurt all night. But maybe that's just me and my finicky stomach!

Dedene said...

Do what your girls like. If they are happy and healthy with a lighter lunch, why not?

Angela in Europe said...

Hi there, I just found your blog. It's lovely

I can't get used to that idea either! I've always preferred a small lunch and a big dinner. I am not sure you are doing them a disservice as long as they know how to eat...

Sarah @ said...

I don't think you're doing them a disservice, no. Are you supposed to deny that there are other cultural aspects to their identity? You're doing what they like, something that may identify your family to them as being slightly different from other families, but if they like it, then there's no reason to think they mind that their family may be different. It was bound to be that way, as their parents aren't French, right?

Moreover, I think what you're doing is showing them a second culture. It is customary in your culture to provide meals in a different manner from the way meals are provided in the French culture. They see the French version in friends' homes and television and the like, so there's no reason to think they're missing out on a vital aspect of French culture. It's just showing them that in other places, people do things differently.

And that's okay.