About a year ago I made a threat promise to my children. I said it out loud. Many times. In 2009, when my daughter turned 5 and my son turned 8, that was it…we would all be eating the SAME thing for dinner. Every night. No more “kids meals.” No more different menus for children and grown-ups. Ah yes, what do they say about good intentions? It’s only been a week and already what I want to eat most are my words!
This all ties into the big aha moment I had – that started me us on this journey. Why did I think it was necessary for my kids to LIKE what was being served for dinner?? They were as shocked to hear my discovery as I was to make it. But once I did, it was like DUH!! Talk about a moment of parental clarity.
In my defense (of which there is none really) it has less to do with overprotective parenting and more with just being a People Pleaser by nature. I WANTED dinner to be a pleasurable experience. One to be enjoyed and savored by ALL of us. As such, I let things slide.
Both my kids had texture issues as toddlers that caused extra focus and attention to be placed on food and what they could and couldn’t eat. There were struggles with some foods above and beyond typical kid taste bud patterns. I was perhaps too sympathetic. My son quickly moved up the ranks to reigning President of Picky Eaters of America. Being a member myself, I vowed my second-born child would never join.
At age 2, my daughter’s repertoire was fairly wide: salmon, steak, scrambled eggs, etc, (all things my son would not let near his lips). At 2½, coinciding perfectly with what many child rearing books warn you about, my pride in all I had done went out the window. The wide variety narrowed considerably. We quickly had another member of the club.
I confess: at times I gave up in. The path of least resistance meant food wouldn’t go to waste – and that I wouldn’t have to deal with cranky, hungry children. Somewhere along the way, I bought into the notion that they should LIKE at least some most of what was put in front of them.
But when my son boasted how he was a vegetarian who didn’t like vegetables, I finally saw the light. So what if he didn’t like vegetables – few kids do. Just because he didn’t like them shouldn’t mean we should be avoiding them at all costs. Was I really expecting that he would just wake up one day and say he wanted to try zucchini, or a piece of chicken, or anything really besides cheese pizza or a similar combination of melted cheese and bread?
I put them on notice so there would be no arguments or misunderstandings. Once they had their birthdays this year, things at our house were going to change. God help us all.
We reached the jumping off point at the end of May and now there is no going back. I am as much locked into this as they are. No more endless questions being asked of “What are the kids having for dinner tonight?” Now we are all in the same boat together.
You would think, this being the case, that life would suddenly be easier. Oh no-o-o! Let’s see, so far for dinner we have had pizza, pasta, soy hot dogs and my new Taco Nite (which was kind of a bust – he ended up turning his taco shell and cheese into a quesadilla – again it is all about the melted cheese and bread; she (true to form) choose not to eat it at all.
I was chickening out. You can’t just serve kid food to the whole family every night, my husband reminded me. But I became terrified of anything beyond the basics. Again, the wasted food, the hungry kids (you can see a whole lot of issues being brought up for me – so interesting what we put on food).
Tonight I am giving it another try. We are having my homemade Potato Leek Soup, with some hearty whole wheat bread I just bought today at the local Farmer’s Market. The soup is delicious, if I do say so myself – but they don’t eat potatoes in any form (we all know French Fries don’t count as potatoes) and they won’t go near soup - period. Groovy – two strikes already and we haven’t even gotten up to the plate.
I know, try to make sure they are really hungry when they sit down to eat. Make sure there are a couple things being served that they like – so they at least have SOMETHING to eat. If all else fails, bribe them with dessert. The tricks up my sleeve sure do feel old these days.
What are YOU making for dinner tonight? Any family pleasing menus you can share? Let’s face it: this Zen Mama Wannabe needs all the help I can get!