‘Where do we keep the vegetables?”

My husband packing school lunches is a fascinating thing to watch. It is like he is coming into a kitchen for the first time. Not just our kitchen — any kitchen. He has forgotten what food is and how one packs it for transport.

“We don’t have any vegetables,” he announces, ready to call the whole operation off.

“There is broccoli staring right at you,” I said, pointing to a heap of green languishing in the crisper drawer under a net of onions. “Chop it up and shove it in a baggie.”

He gave me a look that said, “Would we really do that to our children?”

Yup, this would be why the kids prefer their father’s mid-day meal to mine. Mom would never swap broccoli for a stick of pepperoni.

“Dad’s making lunches? Yes!” said the boy, observing the carnage splayed across the countertop.

It might not be pretty, but there would be plenty of it.

The man still pours our kids full glasses of milk.

I don’t pour anybody full glasses of anything, ever. My general rule is only dispense the amount of liquid you want to wipe off the floor or pour down the sink.

“Oh, yes! Daddy’s making lunches,” said the teen girl seeing her father go head-to-head with a block of sharp cheddar.

The same level of excitement is reached when word comes that Dad has gone grocery shopping or is making dinner. There is a wild, magical, slightly unhinged feeling to the whole activity.

There are no rules. No boundaries. It’s a free-flowing journey through a world of cured meat, Triscuit crackers, peanut butter and hot peppers.

On the counter sat the 7-year-old’s lunch, something fit for a full-grown man ... going to work in the mines.

I, meanwhile, had not given up on trying to find our boy a fruit or vegetable he would eat.

“What about an orange? I bought a nice bag of oranges,” I said, sounding like my own mother, who would insert the word “nice” to try to make anything sound lovely, as in how about a “nice” bowl of dirt or a “nice” root canal.

“I don’t like oranges anymore,” he said.

“Carrots?” I asked.

“I am not a big fan of carrots,” he said, as if carrots had a fan club. “I’ll take mango. I love mango.”

“Yes, I know you love mango. You tell me all the time about how you love mango. But it is January.”

“OK, then I’ll take watermelon.”

“I give up,” I said, walking away.

Dad had moved on, filling one bag after the next with his eclectic bounty.

“Alright, who wants taco meat?” he asked the crowd.

I raised my hand.

Don’t worry. I had some nice broccoli with it.

Martha Petteys writes a weekly column for The Post-Star. Write to her at petteyshome@gmail.com or visit her on Facebook.


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