This isn’t the long lunch I had in mind


Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS - Mi­randa Mur­phy is a mother of three and a jour­nal­ist at The Aus­tralian. Fol­low her on Twit­ter @mur­phymi­randa

THE day has fi­nally come: my third — and hope­fully fi­nal — child starts school to­mor­row.

At four, he’s per­haps un­fash­ion­ably young for a boy to be­gin. I’ve heard the ar­gu­ments for send­ing or for hold­ing back, and lain awake fret­ting about them.

But I could hardly have stopped him even if I wanted to be­cause he’s dead keen to go. Thanks to his older sis­ters the kid’s been at­tend­ing Lo­cal Pri­mary School since birth.

He’s so com­fort­able with the place he works the play­ground like a tiny, ginger Si­na­tra, high-fiv­ing the teach­ers, shootin’ the breeze with the par­ents, mak­ing so­cial plans with the Year 6s.

The guy’s been sleep­ing in his uni­form, for good­ness’ sake. Apart from the hygiene im­pli­ca­tions of that, he’ll be fine.

Peo­ple ask how I’m cop­ing with this pass­ing of an era, whether I’m sad to wave our last baby off to Big School.

What’s not to like, I first thought. Fi­nally a sin­gle drop-off, the end of child­care fees, a four-year-old look­ing im­pos­si­bly cute in a pre­pos­ter­ous hat?

But then an enor­mous re­al­i­sa­tion struck, caus­ing me to choke back tears of trep­i­da­tion for an un­ex­pected rea­son.

It was about the school lunches.

I did the sums and found that the num­ber of school lunches that will be re­quired over my three chil­dren’s K-12 ca­reers is … about 7800.

I’m not sug­gest­ing I will be mak­ing all th­ese lunches. But that fig­ure rep­re­sents a lot of lunch box angst — and about a bil­lion sul­tanas.

No one will be get­ting dainty lit­tle sushi rolls and healthy va­ri­ety in their bags. We’ll be bulk-freez­ing loaves’ worth of sangers and buy­ing sacks of muesli bars whole­sale.

That stag­ger­ing amount of lunches opened my eyes to other star­tling school stats that are lurk­ing ahead of us with our three kids.

Say they get through — con­ser­va­tively — two hats a year each, that’s 78 hats. 78 HATS. A pair of shoes a year? That’s 39 pairs. The socks are too count­less to con­tem­plate.

Here’s the most alarm­ing one of all. If we add end to end the time spent at­tend­ing end-of-year pre­sen­ta­tion morn­ings and show­case per­for­mance nights — in pri­mary school alone — we get to 68 hours. That’s al­most three days and nights of cran­ing our necks with a pro­gram in our hands.

So as I head into the kitchen to make school lunch num­bers 1209 to 1211, I’ll ad­mit it’s all enough to make me a bit weepy.

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