My Son Forgot His Lunchbox.

On the fourth day of school, I came home from my 90-minute-round trip to find Dylan’s lunchbox still on the counter.

NO! I thought, I am not driving all the way back to his school!

But his school doesn’t have a cafeteria with other options.

For many years, Dylan has been regularly forgetting his lunchbox. I’m not sure how “lunch” doesn’t qualify as important in the ADHD mind. But other than homework, it is last on the list of things Dylan can remember to take to school.

So for years, I helped Dylan. When he was very young and forgot his lunch, I drove back to the school (a few short miles away) and called him out of class to come and get it.

I’d bend way over to talk to him. “Dylan,” I’d say to his six-year-old self, “it’s really important that you take your lunch to school every day. I won’t always be able to get to your school, and I want you to have food to eat.”

“Okay,” he would say, “I’m not going to forget again!”

Then we would go through the same thing the next time he forgot his lunchbox.

When he got old enough – sometime around 5th grade, I think – I told him, “Dylan, I give up. I cannot keep driving into the school with your lunch. It’s wasting my time and yours. If you forget it again, I am not going to bring it. The next time you forget your lunchbox, don’t even call me. You are going to have to eat the crappy cafeteria food, and I know you don’t want to do that!”

“No, Mom,” he said with such sincerity. “It smells bad and nobody who buys lunch even really eats their food so I know it’s not good.”

He was on permanent threat, from that day forward, that he would have to eat the cafeteria food if he ever forgot his lunchbox again. Luckily, money was not an issue. We put money in an account for him, and he pays with a pin number – something Dylan can remember.

From that day forward, Dylan was doomed to eat cafeteria lunches about once every two weeks. Eventually, he got pizza – and his opinion of the cafeteria food changed. (Mine didn’t.) So he wasn’t terribly upset if his lunch didn’t get to school with the rest of his stuff.

And he never stopped forgetting.

So when Dylan forgot his lunchbox on Day 4 at a school 45 minutes away, I very seriously considered letting him starve. I thought maybe starvation would guarantee that he would remember his lunchbox.

I waited almost an hour before I felt like  a bad mom and called the school.

“My son forgot his lunchbox,” I said, “and I don’t know what to do! We live 45 minutes away. Is there any way to get food to him?”

“Don’t worry,” the office manager said. “We have hot dogs, peanut butter, applesauce and granola bars.”

“He’ll eat all of that!” I said, relieved. “And I’d be happy to pay you for it!”

“No, no problem,” she said. “I’m just glad he doesn’t have any allergies. We’ll be sure he gets something to eat!”

And they did. Later, I found out that the “peanut butter” was an Uncrustables, which has jelly in it. Dylan doesn’t like jelly. And he doesn’t like Uncrustables, either.

So I am thrilled. He didn’t starve, but he didn’t get nearly enough food, and he didn’t like the food he got.

I hope he has finally found a reason to take his lunch to school every single day.

But with his history, I doubt it.


  1. Kirsten says:

    And that’s why I have been watching him walk out the door without his homework (even if he walks right past it) for five years. So far, he just isn’t getting it. 🙂 But I hear ya!

    • lorrie says:

      Leaving his homework at home isn’t making him uncomfortable, but missing lunch just might… keep on keepin on girl! You’re doing the best job you can for Dylan & that is all God asks of us to do for our children. 🙂

  2. lorrie says:

    Maybe, just maybe if he is uncomfortable enough he will remember his lunch…and he won’t “starve” if he misses a lunch once in a while…if we Moms ENABLE such behavior by coming to the ‘rescue’ every time then the behavior will never change…why, because it doesn’t have to! You are a great Mom Kir and all you need to work on is independence not dependence from your son. He will learn what he needs to learn, we just have to make sure he “needs” to learn it. Parenting, the hardest job you will ever love!

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