Social impacts of giving your kids bento to school?

Kid-related issues: picky eaters, peer pressure, etc.

Social impacts of giving your kids bento to school?

Postby killerkitty » Sun Jan 18, 2009 9:14 am

I don't have kids nor do I plan to have any in the next couple of years. But there's something that I keep wondering when I look at all those kid's bento lunches... I know that Biggie's son goes to a japanese preschool, but everybody else?

When I was a kid, maybe until 16 years old or so, all I wanted was to be like everybody else (and then I made a 180° turn... Oh well). If my parents had ever bothered with making me a bento lunch, I would have been way too embarrassed to open up a cute little box while everybody around me had a sandwich or bought something at the cafeteria. Then again, in Germany bringing lunch with you to school isn't a tradition at all and I don't know how it's in other countries.

I think, even as a grown-up it takes some guts to bring cute home-made food with you - it turns heads. I know a lot of people who are too embarrassed to stand out and I'm lucky that I've overcome these problems a long time ago.

So how do your kids deal with it?
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Re: Social impacts of giving your kids bento to school?

Postby eventamy » Sun Jan 18, 2009 9:40 am

My kids are still really little, but I think my Kindergartener thinks they're cool. She likes cute things, but also beats to her own drum anyway. Plus, she doesn't generally eat much of the school lunch food because she doesn't eat meat and when we've talked about it, chooses not to. She does like to get hot lunch when it's a vegetarian choice so on those days it's a nice break for both of us.
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Re: Social impacts of giving your kids bento to school?

Postby veganf » Sun Jan 18, 2009 10:01 am

I've got 2 in private preschool & 1 in public school. Here's an example from this past week...6yo borrowed 5yo's new Mario bento for lunch. He said every kid at the table wanted his lunch and practically lunged for it they thought it was so cool. Now sometimes I'm sure they wonder what he's eating, but obviously it didn't matter when it was in a cool container. LOL.
mama to Ryan (6), AJ (5), Nate (2), Maia (1), all born at home. Kids vegan bento lunches: http://disposableaardvarksinc.blogspot.com/
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Re: Social impacts of giving your kids bento to school?

Postby gfbentomom » Sun Jan 18, 2009 10:08 am

That's a good question. Originally my kiddo started out with bentos at Japanese pre-school where it was required. Then he moved on to public and then private elementary in an area where there were alot of kids from other countries who not only brought lunch but brought strong smelling foods like curries etc. So, it was a natural transition for us and he didn't stand out much. I offered bento or American style sack lunch-sandwiches etc. but he chose bento every year. He liked and still likes the bento foods better. He's in his last year of elementary in an area where the are some kids from oversees but not so many and probably few bentos in the cafeteria. Most have never seen one. He does get comments both positive and negative but the kids have gotten used to it over the past two years and he gets offers to trade(he doesn't usually) sometimes for the whole bento! sometimes for individual items-he traded one small onigiri for a whole can of soda and something else once-he got the better deal I think! He gives out tastes of things sometimes and I think that the kids that trade or taste probably have never had those things before and they usually like it. One of his friends has taken a liking to the extra sheets of nori that I send in sometimes. He seems happy with the food I send and always eats it up. Now we bento because of allergies and food intolerances. I'm thinking that we'll have to go to more traditional bento arranging with no garnishes etc. next year as he's a boy and will be in Jr. High. I may purchase some manlier colored boxes-black etc. and save the light blue one we use now for myself.
Come visit me at Flickr for bentos that are always gluten-free for mom and kiddo, sometimes casein-free and now always lowcarb for mom.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/21012380@N08/
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Re: Social impacts of giving your kids bento to school?

Postby arisa63 » Sun Jan 18, 2009 10:32 am

I'm Japanese and grew up in a Canadian prairie city. (IOW I was the only Asian kid in my class sometimes.) My mom would get me the cutest, coolest obento boxes from Japan with the latest anime fad on the lid. I really liked them, but when I was in 5th grade and at a new school, some kid in my elementary school commented that my bento was "weird", and I demanded that my mom make me normal lunches - sandwiches and carrot sticks in ziploc bags, no frills!

When I was in high school, I was very busy and my mom still lovingly made my lunches. I allowed the bento box (without anime characters) to return to my backpack, but still asked my mom to keep it simple. Nothing too ethnic-looking, like onigiri or inari sushi. I still really wanted to blend in, and my mom was understanding of how I felt.

My daughter is only 1 year old, and will be going to a Japanese preschool when she's 3, but I love that there is a growing Western bento community. We also live in a more multicultural area, where I'm not the only one speaking a non-English language to my kid. Maybe by the time she is going to school, 'lunches in a box' will be more accepted? I can only hope.

I applaud all of you and your children who take your bentos out into the world with pride. :D
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Re: Social impacts of giving your kids bento to school?

Postby dragonfly » Sun Jan 18, 2009 5:18 pm

My son has taken a bento to school for the past two years. He loves them and wants nothing else. He says that no one has ever commented on them that he can remember. He's not the only one at his school to bring a bento. There are a few part Japanese students, plus his dad loves and makes a big deal about how great bento are.
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Re: Social impacts of giving your kids bento to school?

Postby PikaMama » Mon Jan 19, 2009 12:54 am

My son is in the 2nd grade and has been taking bento to school for the past 2 years :) He absolutely loves it and so do the kids in his classes. He has never had trouble with kids making rude comments, they all get excited to see what he will have for lunch. If/when the day comes that he does not want me to pack him a bento lunch for any reason I would comply. I would never send him to school with a lunch that would cause him turmoil. For now it works nicely. He enjoys it and so do all the other kids!
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Re: Social impacts of giving your kids bento to school?

Postby killerkitty » Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:29 am

Thank you for your answers, everyone! I'm glad to hear that bento works out so great with your kids.

I'm wondering if there's someone with older children out there, as well? I think (and so it seems from everybody's answers) that when you start elementary school, everybody will probably be very open-minded about everything, maybe even jealous if they have to eat the same sandwiches every day ;) So I hope that everybody's children are cool enough to stick to bento through middle- and highschool!

Arisa63, that's exactly what I was talking about - I was the only immigrant kid at my school for a long time, so all I wanted was to blend in, too. I even stopped speaking Russian for a couple of years! I feel really stupid about it now, but back then, it was the only acceptable way of life for me.

gfbentomom, trading food, how cool is that? You're right, it never occured to me that for example japanese food isn't so well-known outside the bento community as one tends to imagine. I always end up giving away my onigiri, too... I hope that you can stick with bento at the next school!
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Re: Social impacts of giving your kids bento to school?

Postby veganf » Mon Jan 19, 2009 6:03 am

killerkitty wrote:So I hope that everybody's children are cool enough to stick to bento through middle- and highschool!


I think by middle school a very plain bento box, tupperware packed in bento fashion, reused container from another product, or possibly a LaptopLunch might be preferable for older kids. And if they want to pack their own they can. I'll continue to pack them healthy food until they tell me to stop! :lol:
mama to Ryan (6), AJ (5), Nate (2), Maia (1), all born at home. Kids vegan bento lunches: http://disposableaardvarksinc.blogspot.com/
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Re: Social impacts of giving your kids bento to school?

Postby Thoreau » Mon Jan 19, 2009 7:28 am

Oh, let me tell you! At the age of seventeen, I love making cutsie bentos, and some kids go through my backpack to get my lunch to see what I've packed! Highschoolers, especially the girls, love the boxes. Think they're cute. Some kids are jealous that I bring healthy, (and edible!) food. Our school lunch food is .... questionable, at best. I had to have an impromptu chopsticks lesson last week when I brought in chicken lomein!
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