From time to time I need reminding of the importance of food in fostering. It's up there with love and safety.
Every day I have to make lunch boxes. Standing in the playground before school, a mum said to me "I was pleased yesterday was an Inset Day. I like having my daughter around the house. Plus, I didn't have to do a lunchbox. I hate doing the lunchbox".
The tyranny of the lunchbox.
Most parents who do lunch boxes rather than school meals will sympathise. Every day you have to come up with a little menu of snacky bits that compliment each other and meet nutritional requirements. Most of all the lunchbox is a message from parent to child about how much they know and love them.
I have nightmare visions of a teacher peering into the lunchbox of one of our children and reporting me to Jamie Oliver.
But I want to share the last 15 minutes of this afternoon with you, because it was good for me and maybe it'll be useful to you, if you're a carer.
I cleared out the lunch boxes as soon as we got back from the school run, and for the first time ever, the looked after child had eaten every single thing. I commented favourably and the reply was "Huh?"
The menu had been: a cheese sandwich and 5 grapes in a small tupperware tub. An apple (small) and a bag of salt and vinegar Hula Hoops.
Until yesterday, the only main item the child would eat was a mini-sausage roll. But last night, due to operational difficulties, I was out of mini-sausage rolls.
So straight away I'm over-compensating.
What I did was this: I spread margarine on two slices of small Hovis 50/50, right up to the crust. I shaved two slices of (mild) cheddar and placed them exactly right, one each side of the halfway mark on the bread. I laid the other slice on top of the one with the cheese. Then I trimmed the crusts off. Then I cut the remaining square of sandwich into four triangles.
I placed them in the small tupperware box, which usually had the sausage roll in it.
The sandwich looked unloved. A sausage roll can stand alone, defiant. Sandwiches look set to curl and go dry. So I yanked off a square of cling film, put the triangles in the middle and carefully folded the cling film around the sandwich.
And for the first time ever, the lunchbox was totally emptied.
So I asked why. Got a grunt. I mentioned it over dinner, got a shrug.
Know what? I honestly suspect the child got the care that went into the box and sent something back to me. I do think that, I really do.
Okay, to be honest, I really hope that's what happened.
But I'm all across the looked-after lunchbox like a demon, so I am.