"So how did you get on with your lunch today?" I ask my nine year old daughter Belle as we walk home from school.
She looks shifty. "Fine," she answers, avoiding eye contact and scuffing her shoes guiltily along the pavement.
"So you ate it all then?" I ask.
"Yes..." she replies.
I raise my eyebrows. "Everything apart from the banana," my eyebrows go higher, "and three of the sandwiches. And the raisins."
"Excellent," I sigh, "so basically you ate a quarter of a sandwich and a small flapjack?"
"Fabulous," I conclude.
I probably should argue my point a little more forcibly, but this is the same conversation I have every single day at 3.30pm and quite frankly I'm sick of it.
Sometimes I'll threaten action, but it has little impact. "You know I'll have to stop putting a treat in if you can't eat the sandwiches and fruit first don't you?"
"Oh great," she'll snarl, "so then I'll not eat anything, and then I'll starve, and it will be All Your Fault."
Making packed lunches is one of the things I hate most about parenting. I don't think I'd mind quite so much if got eaten, but I just can't bear the futility of it.
Every morning I grate cheese, butter bread, decant fruit into cute little pots, all the while knowing that seven hours later I'll be emptying it all into the bin. The whole process is so pointless.
I'd quite happily send her to school every day with just a slice of white bread and marmite if I thought I could get away with it. I sense though that this kind of parenting is frowned upon.
Some people might argue that I bring it upon myself, and that my lack of motivation in the lunch department is why Belle doesn't eat.
"You need to make her packed lunch exciting," other, much more enthusiastic parents would say, their eyes sparkling at the very thought of crudités, "you could cut carrots into batons and provide a home-made hummus dip!"
Well yes, I suppose I could, if I wanted something different to put in the bin for a change, but to be honest I'd rather not.
I have better things to do with my time than spend hours blending chick peas, like... well... like pretty much anything at all really.
I did try experimenting a little recently, much against my own better judgement, and unsurprisingly it didn't go down well.
"What happened to my sandwich today?" Belle asked in disgust when I picked her up from school. "It was all flat and chewy."
"It was a pitta bread," I explained, "I thought you might like to try something new."
She looked aghast. "Why would I want to do that? Let's just stick to marmite and white bread in future shall we?"
Do you hate the pointless drudgery of packed lunch making?
Or are you gaily making egg sandwiches at 7am?
Any tricks to make children eat these lovingly prepared lunches?