Tuck Shop Blues

I was informed by my son about a month back that his school was organising a tuck shop and he was expecting his dad and me to cook chicken and pasta respectively. I heard what he was saying without really listening, having learnt from experience not to pay attention to anything involving actual work that did not come in writing and signed by the teacher. Things came to a head a few days later when a fellow mom called asking if she could pool in with us since we were sending in two dishes anyway. Apparently the whole pasta-chicken story had been broadcast wide and was considered fairly official by then!

To back up a bit for those not in the know, a tuck shop is when the school encourages the momming community to cook food for the school to sell. On tuck shop day, the children bring money and pay to eat stuff their mother spent last evening slaving to make. It is precisely this sort of enterprise and focus on the bottomline that reinforces faith in the hearts of parents hearing such poor feedback on the Indian school system.

Putting the pasta-chicken fairy tales to one side, I narrowed it down to chips and dip – junk enough for the kids to love, simple enough to not ruin a week in preparation. So I met the teacher and confirmed everything when last week my son called me at work and told me that I would need to send a sample to school the next day. Without being able to understand why someone would ask for a sample of free food that could always be thrown away, I came home after work to put together (in the absence of half the ingredients) something that would not be rejected at school thereby condemning my child to the humiliation of being the only one with the mother who cannot cook. The tension next day was killing. Only when I called home and my son confirmed that ‘Pappu pass ho gaya’ was I really able to breathe easy.

So when my school whatsapp group was discussing heatedly the other day about all the pressure on schoolgoing kids these days, I couldn’t help wondering – what about their moms? From projects to exams and homework – we can’t seem to catch a break. I have a friend who routinely spends Sunday nights putting together crafts, albums and mini theses. I have never seen her boast about her senior managerly achievements in the tech startup she works for but these projects she is inordinately proud of. As she should be. Our mothers had a hard time of it too but this generation must be the only one to do triple duty – face competition and stress at work, home AND in the school once again!

Anyway the food was ready the night before and did not taste half bad though I could not muster up the courage to post selfies with my masterpiece like the other moms. The next day I followed breathlessly the reports on which item sold out when even as I walked a customer in Singapore through his troubles with network troubleshooting. It was not too bad in the end. My chips sold out before the 50% discount on the leftovers opened.

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