Do you ever feel like to make dinner for your family you need a Venn diagram? When I take out all the things my kids won’t eat, and all the things we’re not supposed to serve them for dinner every night, for all three kids, there’s precious little overlap.
This is the part when I should mention that I make my kids eat crap they hate all the time. I’m not shaking in my boots or anything. Eat the spinach or watch me throw this ice cream in the trash, luv. But, sometimes it’s nice to not have three sobbing children at the table making gag noises telling me how my soup looks like a big booger. Just sayin’.
It’s nearly impossible to pull off a win. Recently we just came out of a Taco Tuesday ban, in which my three kids teamed up to eschew a) taco shells b) meat c) cheese d) toppings. How do you hate tacos? They’ve tentatively allowed them back on the nice list, and I’m trying not to get overly excited and fix them every night. Hey, Taco Saturday can be a thing.
My oldest is the most difficult. She hates rice, bread, smoothies, vegetables, anything in a bowl except ice cream, and pasta. Pasta. Hating pasta is like hating going braless or presents or butter. Hating pasta is like wishing you had more homework. It’s really about self-loathing and not wanting good things for yourself. I am against it. Pasta is life.
The one thing she did like was hotdogs. Sweet Latvian that she is, she called them “sausages,” which elevated their little wienerness into a fancier category than they deserved. She’d squeal, “Ooh! Sausages!” And I felt like I’d really made something magical, instead of schlurping wienies onto a plate and microwaving them just shy of explosion. When she exclaimed “Sausages!” I was a European chef who ground her own meat at a corner café, instead of an American mom who grabbed Oscar Meyers from the end cap at Target.
Hotdogs were my go-to crowd pleaser … until a month ago when my daughter looked at me uncomfortably, sighed like a doctor delivering bad news, and said, “I’m sorry, Mommy, I don’t want to hurt your feelings but I don’t want to eat hotdogs anymore.”
No. No. Look, if you’re taking hotdogs away then you have to give me pasta or bread. Help me help you. Wo-man cannot live on Doritos alone.
“But you LIKE hotdogs,” I choked, breathing shakily like the broken woman I am. Before these turdkins took over I used to eat mac and cheese by myself from a recliner every night while watching Buffy episodes on DVD. The glory days. I used to give precisely zero bleeps about other people at dinnertime. I remember it hazily.
“Not anymore,” she replied, and she was sweet enough to allow some regret to tinge her voice.
Goodbye sausage wieners. It was a good run.
Feeding picky kiddos is hard. And yet they continue to need food multiple times a day. It’s unfair really. I will not give up, though. I’ll keep making dinner every night and slapping it down in front of them. The more I do it, the more immune I become to the gagging and shrieks of, “Is that an ONION!?!?”
And as the kids get older and ask me their standard question, “Do I have to eat this,” my answer will become, “Make dinner yourself.”