The Horror of the School Approved Snack

When I was a child, I was convinced that the only point to growing up was to eat whatever you wanted to eat. I was not even allowed to apply shampoo on my head (only home-made shikakai) because it’d have ‘chemicals’, so you can guess what I was allowed to put inside my mouth. The adult universe, in my imagination, was one that was filled with rows and rows of Maggi. Nobody would force me to eat spinach or Chyawanprash. Ever.For a brief period, I lived this fantasy. I ate carcinogens and slow poisons whenever I wanted. Then my daughter was born and to my horror, I discovered that I was required to Set An Example. Babies are scary – they watch every move that you make with unblinking eyes. There’s nothing more terrifying to an adult than discovering that some foolish kid has put you on his/her pedestal. ‘I’m not that great! I’m just as clueless!’ you want to scream. It’s difficult enough to do this if the kid is not your own but pretty much impossible if she is.And so, my love for junk was forced into the closet. I had no problems uttering shameless lies like ‘Yes, Amma hated lollipop when Amma was a child.’ I thought I was doing pretty well on being a healthy, hypocritical parent till my daughter started school. I’d assumed that since I’d given birth to her, I’d be the imperial authority that decided what she ate but I couldn’t be more wrong.Schools these days take food very seriously. In my days, no teacher ever peered into my tiffin box to see if I had brought something with white sugar, maida, or too much oil. Their reign was confined to marking my lab book as ‘shabby’. Sadly, Things are no longer so simple. You are supposed to pack only healthy snacks for your child. Even if you throw a tonne of vegetables into the readymade pasta (because you are in your deathbed), the stern teacher will call you out. And oh boy, nobody can shame you better than a disapproving teacher, whatever be your age.It’s another matter that most children don’t want to eat their healthy snacks. So every morning, mummies and progressive daddies labour in the kitchen to make school approved snacks that the child will refuse to eat. Stuff with ragi, whole wheat and no sugar whatsoever. Then, of course, you are required to take pictures of the epicurean food and post it on social media so everyone knows what a Masterchef and conscientious parent you are. After this, you also have to make not-to-be-photographed food that the child will actually eat so the kid doesn’t pass out when it comes back home.With so much pressure on our heads, it’s no wonder that despite the green tea and quinoa, more of us young parents are landing up at the hospital. Sigh. Think about it while I eat my vada pav…I mean, multigrain bread stuffed with tuber.