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Jailed for Bad School Lunches

Dear Mothering Heights,

If my kids starve to "death" because they don't like my lunches, am I legally liable?

Laguna Beach, CA

Dear Tricia,

As long as it’s not a recycled sandwich you are fine, but what do I know? I once drove in the carpool lane without any other passengers and got a nasty ticket. I contacted my smart, lawyer friend Josh Wolff who laid down the law:  “You are held to the standard of a “reasonably prudent parent” – not that one exists. A reasonably prudent parent would likely foresee that lunches uneaten over a long enough time would eventually lead to the child’s malnourishment, starvation, and inevitable death.  Thus, you would be liable. Of course, you could always plead ‘not guilty’ by reason of parental insanity.”

Parental insanity is a fabulous plea, and frankly I don’t know why I didn’t use it for my carpool lane infraction! As for your lunch situation, tell those kids to buck up or Mommy is going to jail. Then not only will they have to make their own lunches, but clean the toilet, too. In fact, why not start today and have them make their own lunch? Any reasonable prudent parent would agree that a messy kitchen post-lunch preparation is better than the County mess hall.


Naptime Madness

Dear Mothering Heights,

My daughter is two and half years old and recently started climbing out of her crib at night. We put her in a toddler bed but she won’t take a nap now. I am spending over an hour fighting with her to go down and end up feeling angry. Should I just give up and forget her afternoon nap?

Los Angeles, CA

Dear Frustrated,

The hair on the back of my neck stands up just thinking about your situation. My solution was to put my youngest daughter in extended preschool, so they could put her down for a nap. Nothing like peer pressure to make those eyes close. If I had it to do it over, I would remove everything from her room, put up a gate so you can see her, and set the timer for an hour. Explain to your daughter that she needs to lie down in bed and rest. Go sit in the other room and curl up with a cup of tea and People magazine. If all else fails, head to park. There might a hot dad there to distract you for a few minutes during your sleepless afternoon.



How to recycle snacks in the lunchbox

Dear Mothering Heights,

Is there a statue of limitations on how many time I can keep sending the same uneaten sandwich or snack in my son's school lunchbox, or will I be violating some county health law?

Jeff Tyler
Laguna Beach, CA

Dear Jeff,

I love your new approach to green living by recycling those snacks. My perusal of the Orange County Health Department website didn’t reveal any laws on the shelf life of lunches, although I did find a scary number of restaurants that closed in the past sixty days. No more Winchell Donuts for me! I asked my neighbor who is a nutritionist at CHOC who shared the basic rule, “When in doubt, throw it out.” She said no recycling of sandwiches, but wrapped snacks could hit the bag another time. “If it’s not puffy or frothy, you can give it another try.” Frankly, I give my kids moldy food all the time. “A natural source of antibiotics,” I explain. We all know it was Alexander Fleming’s wife who discovered penicillin when she fed her sick kid an old breadstick. Petri dish in a London hospital? Yeah, right. Pack those lunches with confidence. Every recycled snack is a science experiment waiting to happen.


Should Hot Dad make play dates?

Dear Mothering Heights,

I am a stay-at-home dad who spends a lot of time with moms at the park and at play dates. I don't know what to do when some of the moms start flirting and hitting on me. My wife tells me to set up play dates but I am not sure this is a good idea.

Stay at Home Hot Dad
Laguna Beach, CA

Dear Hot Dad,

First of all, I want to thank you for bringing some entertainment to those moms’ lives. A little Chippendales in Bluebird Park never hurt anyone. I don’t want to discredit your male intuition, but I question whether these moms are actually hitting on you, like ‘let’s go behind that swing set and go to first base,’ or just exercising their barely used flirting muscle. (I realized recently that not only do I never flirt, I am not sure I even know how. Flirting can lead to washing yet another person’s underwear and cooking them dinner. No, thank you!) Now I have mom friends who have had affairs and none of them started at the park or a play date. Never the less, I wouldn’t plan any play dates at homes. That’s how Kate Winslet got into trouble in the movie Little Children. Keep the meetings public and let the moms have a few fantasies to mull over while folding the fifteenth load of laundry. Meanwhile, a viewing of Fatal Attraction might cure you of any naughty thoughts. Michael Douglas’s casual fling with psycho Glenn Close is a cautionary tale for those of us who find the daily routine of marriage mundane.