This week I am in charge of snacks for my daughter’s pre-school class. This means I am responsible for providing healthy, fun, well-rounded snacks for 14 three and four year olds on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Holy Kitchen Nightmares, I haven’t been this stressed out since my family took the class guinea pigs home for the summer in fourth grade.

I know I know, it seems like such a simple task right? Throw some carrots and cheese and pretzels into a basket and you are good to go right? Oh no my friend, it is far more complicated than that. You must have the perfect combination of nutrition and variety with extra points thrown in for creativity.

So here is my snack fantasy: I breeze into school with fruits, vegetables and a protein formed into zoo animal shapes and contained within cages formed from pretzels. The teacher looks at me and says “Wow! I have never seen that before! So creative – and yet nutritious too!” Then later, at the mandatory co-op meeting she brings up MY snack to the other parents as the example of a perfect snack.

When the snack is presented to the kids they all laugh joyously as they pick out their favorite zoo animal and then eat everything because it just tastes so good. They all want to play with Emma after snack, because she is the one who brought in the best snack EVAH.

The other mothers call me or email me that night to tell me that their kids were still talking about the snack when they got home and could they please find out how I managed to get their kids to eat veggies. Oh and also could they please be my best friend.

I am snack genius and pre-school hero.

Here is how it really went down:

On Monday I provided square pretzels, cut up cheese sticks and red seedless grapes. When I was putting them out the teacher said “You know next time you could get the pretzel sticks and then the kids could make little barbells with the grapes!” GREAT Jen, great – snack FAIL. I could just see the teacher making a mental note “No creativity. Lazy mom. Poor Emma.” CRAP.

So I spent the last two nights scouring the internets for some creative snack ideas that would really wow the teacher (oh yes, and provide nutrition to the kids, that too of course). I came up with a few things, but nothing I could do without a trip to the grocery store (and just as an aside, what is the deal with “Ants on a log”? Raisins and peanut butter? How gross is that?). So I opted to make lace cookies with Emma yesterday (from my Grandmother’s recipe, points added for tradition maybe?) Then this morning we made cheese sandwiches and cut them with heart shaped cookie cutters. Then we cut apples horizontally to show the little star in the middle where the seeds live. Fun, right? Healthy, right? Pretty, right?

When I arrived today to set up the snack, the teacher came in and said “Wow, that’s a lot of food.” CRAP. And then came the mental note “Overachiever. Martha-Stewart wanna be. Poor Emma.” I. Cannot. Win. And she didn’t say it, but I could see in her eyes that she didn’t think cookies were a good idea AT ALL. (Even though in the handbook it says we can bring a sweet ONE time during the week – I swear it does.)

I have another shot at snack on Friday, and then again in December, so I guess I might yet figure out how to make the zoo animals etc., but at the moment I think I am just going to throw some carrots and pita chips into the basket and leave a tub of hummus with the teacher. Emma will just have to figure out another way to become the most popular kid in the class, and I will just have to give up on making the teacher like me. Or having friends.