I used to love cooking. I made dishes like coq au vin, marinated flank steak, and chicken piccata. I peeled potatoes, boiled them, and whipped them into heavenly clouds of lumpless fluff. I roasted asparagus to the point that the tips would get browned and crispy and salty. Mmmmm. Ahhhh. Excuse me while I have a moment.
But now? I have kids.
And my kids are the type of kids who won’t eat anything that appeals to taste buds older than, say, five years of age.
I can list the main dishes they will both eat on one hand: Peanut butter and jelly/fluff. Meatballs. Pasta. Turkey dogs. Mac & cheese. Chicken nuggets.
Okay, I need a sixth finger. But you get my point. Can I even count PB&J as a main dish?
I don’t get it.
I ate everything when I was a kid. It wasn’t an option to have something different from what my parents ate. I never asked. They never offered. Fish, meat, exotic fruits, and yes, even brussels sprouts – I ate it all. And I loved it all. I was a foodie before age five.
I was thrilled to bits to dine at fancy establishments when on vacation. For me it was as exciting to go to the five-star restaurant at the Williamsburg Inn as it was to go to Busch Gardens.
So how did I, lover of all food, end up with kids whose palates are seriously deficient?
Apparently it is all my fault. As usual.
My pediatrician says: “Make the kids eat what you eat.”
What this turns into: Me and the hubs eating chicken nuggets with the kids.
I tried. I really did. I believe it all went south when Anne was little and just starting to eat table foods. Hubs and I would eat a normal dinner. Anne wouldn’t eat it when it was offered.
I, being first-time parent of a 90th percentile height and 10th percentile weight toddler, freaked out that she’d lose more weight and gave her something she’d eat.
Anne realized that she could make her newbie mom feed her what she wanted, whenever she wanted.
Fast-forward five years, and if I want the kids to eat what I eat, I’m eating something beige and toddler-sized.
Website advice columns say: “Cook dinners that the whole family will eat.”
What this turns into: Me hurling the computer with said advice across the room when my kids reject my latest attempt at a family meal.
For a few blessed times, everyone ate pasta and homemade meatballs. For another short stretch of time, it was lasagna. Once it was a casserole. But what always happens is one of the girls – usually Anne – suddenly refuses to eat the accepted meal. And one or two people end up in tears over it. I am always one of them.
So it’s not like we don’t eat. I still cook. But I don’t love it.
And I want to love it again. But I am tired of making separate meals for the kids and for the adults. I hate that when Hubs and I devise a plan to get everyone to eat the same thing, it doesn’t work – either because I can’t take Anne’s tantrums anymore or I am worried she will waste away into nothing if she doesn’t eat.
Grace is a bit more open to trying new foods and I am fully taking advantage of it. At least she’ll try what’s put in front of her. But Anne … not so much. So it’s a conundrum.
What about you?
Do you cook different foods for the kids and adults in your life? If so, are you okay with it? If you are unhappy with the situation, how have you tried to fix it?
And if you all eat the same thing at mealtime – how, in all that is holy, do you do it?!