#AtoZChallenge: V is for the Vaporous Nature of Expectation

v is for
photo credit: Merry Christmas via photopin (license)

Life is not a Lunchable.

VIf you have kids – or if you eat like a kid – you know about Lunchables. They’re Kraft’s answer to a parent-packed lunch. (This isn’t even a sponsored post, but if Kraft wants to send me a kickass Kraft Racing T-shirt or something, sweet.) They’re loaded with sodium-laced goodies.

Do-it-yourself cold pizza kits. Capri Sun drinks. Candy bars and cheese chunks.

No, life doesn’t often come with divided plates and countable crackers. Especially with kids. No matter how true your intentions, how crafted your plan, no parent can guarantee an idyllic memory in any given moment.

Kids will grump on Christmas. Steal each other’s Easter candy. A sister will hold another sister in a headlock during Independence Day fireworks.

Sometimes, it falls short of the expectations we set. My friend Tricia at Raising Humans wrote about the gap between expectation and reality with us and our kids.

What’s the lesson?

More kids, higher probability of unpredictability

You can rig Halloween for one child. Weigh Valentine’s candy to within a quarter of an ounce for equity. Let them binge on Lucky Charms on St. Patrick’s Day. Kids have ideas and tangents. As they age, kids’ wish lists grow more specific, iSpecific, specifically.

Allergies pop up at Easter and Thanksgiving sometimes ruins a three-day school week by cramming a kid in at the family dinner with 57 long-lost relatives that they might wish had stayed long lost.

And you know the science behind what happens when one kid’s sour attitude bounces off another …

There’s a point reality drop-kicks expectation

Why do we as parents treat every Peanuts holiday show like the Pope going on tour with One Direction? Because our parents treated every Peanuts holiday show like the Pope going on tour with Paul McCartney and Wings.

We envision holiday cheer and matching green shirts and whatever is ideal for Arbor Day.

What we sometimes get is a Christmas head cold or St. Patrick’s Day parades that ban the actual throwing of candy, or we forget Arbor Day completely. The question becomes, how do we receive this reality? Openly or defiantly? Somewhere in between?

Speaking from the standpoint of a grownup who had to be a kid first, the energy and attitude and actions my parents chose when shit when wrong defined how I would want (or not) want to give off for energy and attitude and actions now that I’m a parent, too.

And honestly – now that I’ve done it? It gives me a bit more appreciation for how tough my parents must have had it, too.

The value of ‘in the moment’

In the moment talk has quickly approached what you can expect around her in terms of pizza talk. It’s already surpassed starry-eyed Jennifer Lawrence talk. (She’s so young.) My kids constantly provide moments to reinforce the urgency of staying in the moment.

It’s why it’s 9:43 a.m., and I’m still writing the post I should have written for Monday.

Because there are kids who need help to saw a chunk of wood for a Pinterest project. Or one who offers to make you a milkshake. Or one whose boyfriend is in town for the weekend and they could probably use a chaperone.

The moment holds a lot more promise than the confines of my plans.

Know when your kid leaves a mess around the house?

Crayons here. Cut up paper there. They leave the paint open and string out for the cats to eat and spray your car’s finish with silly string on a 95-degree July Carolina day.

But the moment? That’s where they are. I can see the oldest begin to slip out of the moment as she worries about college and life and grades and life after high school. It’s going to be a good one for her. I just know it. For her sisters, too.

Just, the moment, and whatever it might hold. It sometimes isn’t pretty. It holds, though, a lot more promise than the confines of my plans.

Who knows? I might even end up grabbing a Lunchable today.

expectation quote



  1. Nikki says:

    It would be so much easier if everything could be easily compartmentalized but then that wouldn’t be Life, right? Life is messy and meant to be lived exactly as you say, in the moment. Robert Burns wrote something in To A Mouse that breaks down to one of my favorite quotes ever: “The best laid plans of mice and men so often go awry (or astray, depending who you talk to)”. I lose focus sometimes of the here and now and my sons are the ones who yank me back into that reality. I’m so thankful for that. Someday, this will all be in the rear-view mirror and I really do want the objects there to seem closer than they are for them. Know what I mean?

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Easier, yes, Nikki, but not nearly as fulfilling. You’re right, what’s life then? I couldn’t have scripted it nearly as compelling. I’m no match for the universe, I’ve discovered.

      Kids have a good way of keeping us on track, don’t they? I wonder if we did that for our parents. I feel like I probably failed in that.

      Things are moving toward that rear-view mirror pretty quick right now.

  2. stomperdad says:

    Ahh… good ol’ sodium laden Lunchables. They’re a treat around here. Once every few weeks I won’t have to pack a lunch for the oldest. Some of them now include a bowl of mixed fruit instead of chocolate. Those are just plain weird. Like drinking water with you Big Mac.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Kids love that shit, don’t they Eric? I think it’d be cool to make our own Lunchables, except without all the preservatives and extra packaging.

      If you’re going to go, go big, right? Water and a Big Mac just isn’t American. Or North American.

      1. stomperdad says:

        What do you propose we include in our healthy lunchable that kids will want to eat? Not sure how long a burrito will last. Pizza. But that’s not healthy enough. We could include 5 bucks to go get a Big Mac and a Coke.

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        Ha! That would be a perfect Lunchable, a fiver for a Big Mac and Coke. I’d say something good, like, yogurt, granola, sun butter and honey sandwich, and beef jerky. Man, I’d dig that.

  3. rachel says:

    great post. a really good reminder. and please, don’t eat a lunchable.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      No lunchables for me, Rachel, promise. Glad you liked this. It’s about way more than Lunchables. And that’s how life should be.

  4. Lyn says:

    LOL and in the near future and they start doing a lot of cooking, the crayons, paint, and bits of cut up paper will change to dirty pots, pans, mixing bowls…

  5. My son totally lives in the moment. Can’t remember where he put down his light saber 30 seconds ago. Can’t remember where he puts anything for that matter. Oh well.

    Just yesterday I was noticing how tidy and clean the house had been for the last 5 days in a row. It never stays this tidy. But my son’s been having a tough time lately and hasn’t been up for any play dates or doing anything outside. Just been in his room. I’d rather have a front porch strewn with wet and muddy clothes and boots, and kids running in and out.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Don’t you envy that, Sue? I think, though, any good Jedi at one time has misplaced his light saber.

      My wallet is my light saber. I put it somewhere different all the time.

      I’m with you on what you’d rather have. I love the signs of kids because it means the kids have been around. Nothing’s better than that. Not even a clean room.

  6. Rorybore says:

    My kids beg for those things. They can’t heat them up or cook them at school – they don’t care. What are kids stomachs even??!!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Yet they throw away fruit cups in their hot lunch. Psh.

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