When my daughter started first grade this year, I was somewhat overly excited at the prospect of packing her lunch every so often.
I pictured myself lovingly cutting her sandwich into four squares each night before school.
I’d responsibly include a fresh fruit or vegetable in each lunch, and even add a quick post-it note that professed my love for the tiny little learner, always finishing off with a tender “Love, Mommy.”
Those lovely lunch-side visions and sentiments lasted all of about four days.
That greedy little learner has since decided she wants to pack EVERY DARN DAY, and my full-time working “Mommy-Teacher-Family Manager-Writer-and seventeen other titles” role has given way to Lunchables, fruit snacks, and overly processed pre-packaged fruits likely overloaded with sugar.
Post-it notes? They’re only on my laptop and crumbled in my purse, reminding me of meetings I’ll forget to attend.
But I’m generally pretty seasoned at shoving any and all mom guilt right out the window, and have far more respect and understanding of reality.
That is, until I was turned on to a local Dad in my area whose lunch bag game is strong, friends.
Chris Dye, a graphic designer from the Greater Cincinnati area I myself reside in, is the lunch bag packing Dad we would all want at 9 years old.
Or honestly, even at 35 years old.
Because Chris’ kids, Lucy, age 9, and Read, age 12, tote brown bag lunches with enough flair to make your local TGI Fridays waiter jealous.
About a year ago, Chris haphazardly grabbed a marker and sketched a quick happy face on Lucy’s lunch bag one day when the bus was running late. Over the course of the next few weeks, he did the same numerous times for his daughter and son, often making the faces mirror the emotions and expressions they were trotting through the house with that morning.
A rambunctious fourth grader, Lucy’s were generally happy and goofy. Read, a middle schooler, generally got sleepy-eyed faces.
Fast forward a year later, and Chris’ lunch bag art has most definitely evolved.
Color, detail, and tying his sketches into the kids’ favorite things, hobbies, and the day’s happenings has given way to full-blown masterpieces that have teachers, lunch ladies, and of course Lucy and Read’s peers, looking forward to lunch time all the more each day.
Chris takes pictures of each unique bag and shares them on his Instagram account @dyehatesinsta– an endeavor that started as a way to share them with close friends and family.
Now, however, Chris is humbled at the compliments and urges from others to make their kids bags, or even make a business out of the side-gig he’s come to love.
For now, he hopes to start with some giveaways on his Instagram account, where lucky followers can win a bundle of themed bags for commenting, or even offering up unique bag ideas for him to sketch.
If it goes anywhere beyond that, he’ll consider it a bonus.
The real reward, he says, has been getting back to the quick, simple, off-the-cuff sketching that his love of art began with years ago- before 9-5 hours, deadlines, and complicated lengthy projects with constraints.
Add in the fact that it gets smiles, laughs, and a quick bonding moment between he and his kids each morning- one of whom is nearing the dreaded teen years- and it’s a win-win for this talented and witty Dad of two.
When curiosity made me probe Chris to dish on what culinary delicacies lie within these effortlessly unique bags, he assured me that the meals are a bit less original than the artwork that adorns them.
“Their lunches are nothing special. Just your average PB&J, some chips, and a fruit-roll-up” he explained.
“Throwing in some carrots meets the healthy requirement, and I call it a day.”
Cause if I found out Lucy and Read were munching on organic veggies and house-made hummus each day, I was definitely going to have to file him under that Pinterest Mom cult we all secretly love to hate.
But another frazzled, barely surviving parent that somehow makes just enough time to squeak out a little something to bring joy to his kids on a daily basis?
We can most definitely be friends.
And since we are- I’d like two dozen 90’s era themed bags, like now, dear friend.
I’m picturing Zack Morris getting flirty with me on his massive car phone, with a side of Lisa Frank on the back.
Order up Chris- order up.
Head on over to Chris’ Instagram @dyehatesinsta to see more of his unique work and share some love.