Why are so many women determined to make more work for themselves? Remember last year's dreadful "ghosting" and "elving" craze? Women across this great land baked homemade treats, wrote clever little poems and delivered them, in secret, to their neighbors like some sort of psychotic chain letter with marshmallows.
Men, meanwhile, drafted players for their fantasy football teams and took a nap.
Ghosting and elving was bad, but the bento box craze showing up at school is even worse. Bento boxes are Japanese lunch boxes with little compartments for different foods. Fancy foods. Foods that bring out the Mommie wars like nothing I've ever seen.
Foods like faux sushi constructed from strawberry cream cheese, bananas and white bread that looks just like the real fancypants sushi you'd get from the nice place at the mall.
One Texas mom I read about cut up a boiled egg to look just like a daffodil; another carved a realistic bunny rabbit entirely out of white cheddar for her daughter's bento box. And you thought Texas cheerleading was competitive.
In Japan, the bento lunchbox is highly competitive because mothers believe a successful bento box represents the "uprightness of the household, a true measure of a mother's love."
Great. I finally got the hang of making pancakes shaped like Mickey and now I gotta make rice balls that look just like Hello Kitty for my kid's lunchbox. Wonder if it's OK to substitute Sour Patch Kids candy for miniature fruit kebobs? Probably not.
My daughter's lunchbox is just an insulated sack from Target so it would be hard to, as one parenting Web site (www.toomuchtimeour hands.com) recommended, display macaroni and cheese shaped like a VW bug, complete with fruit roll-up windows. Guess we'll just have to stick to ham on wheat or peanut butter and banana, all with crusts intact. If the Target bag gets smelly, I put it in a paper bag. I am SO not upright.
Bento boxes aren't perfect, anyway. Those tiny compartments can't hold more than two full-size Doritos at best.
In Japan, the bento box is supposed to remind the child that his mother cherishes him and that his home is a haven. Even as he is biting into a train caboose made of whittled sea urchin, his mother is literally counting the minutes until his return home. Nah, that won't give him a complex.
Far be it from me to criticize another culture's centuries-old belief system. Just kidding! Of course that's what I'm doing, but it's for the right reasons: We got enough crap to do without fretting about our kid having Most Honorable Lunchbox.
I shouldn't worry. I live in the South and it's almost impossible to make a decent Dora the Explorer out of potted meat.