A co-worker screamed “no!” at me when I said I was writing about Lean Cuisine spaghetti and meatballs. But I say life can't be all artisanal tea and grass-fed buffalo. And besides, I'm not really writing about the food.

What I'm writing about is independence, of little children growing bigger and realizing they can make their own food. And for my 8-year-old this summer, that has meant microwaving frozen dinners. The spaghetti and meatballs has been the biggest hit. As it boasts on the front of the box, the meal has 15 grams of protein and 260 calories. It's real, hot food, and my kid can make it by himself, 100% no help from me. It's a step far above having a juice box and bowl of Cheez-Its, and parents? I know you know what I'm talking about.

He relishes in the details of the instructions on the side of the box. "Cut film to vent," "microwave for 6 minutes, "let stand for one minute." He follows it to the letter and knows it by heart.

There are meals we could have that are more virtuous. I get that. But there have been some busy lunch hours recently when everyone else is doing their own thing, and I need to make sure my youngest one has eaten. "Can you make yourself one of your frozen dinners?" I'll ask. "Yes," he'll reply, his chest swelling with pride, "I can do that." It's kind of a big deal.