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It's What's For Dinner

Son: “Dad, what’s for dinner?”

Me: “Pork chops in a pineapple-glazed honey sauce with jasmine rice and edamame .”

Son: “AWWWWWW!!! NOOOO Dad!!! Aw come-on!! Can’t we have pizza?”

And that’s how our nights begin these days.

The kids love rice. They love honey. They love pineapple. And if you put a bowl of edamame in the middle of a room and unleash the little bastards they’ll literally fight to the death until it’s all gone.

Feeding edamame to them is like tying down a small child and throwing it into a room full of zombies. Yeah…like that.

But when you lovingly toss it all together on a plate, gleefully place it in front of the troops, stand back and wait for the overwhelming cheers…all we get is the kid’s version of Chef Ramsay.

“Dad! What the fuck is this you donkey? Come here…taste this! It’s crap dad! Crap!”

I absolutely love cooking. There’s nothing better than cranking the radio, pouring a full glass of red wine and knocking out a killer meal. But with the birth of two little rug-rats we’ve fallen victim to the lure of eating out.

Sitting at a table, having beer brought to you on demand without having to lift a finger while plates of goodness are brought is such a wonderful thing. But damn that’s expensive.

And sushi is…make that “was”…our weakness. We LOVE sushi!!! But damn it’s expensive.

The boy has to learn to eat food that costs less than $50 to create. The girl…well, she would eat chicken nuggets and chicken noodle soup until the world ended.

So, we’ve taken the old school “we used to walk to school uphill both ways” philosophy of parenting.

Last night we fed them pork chops. They tried it. They hated it. They went to bed with empty stomachs. And, yes…I showed them the trash can with their food in it and said, “daddy listened to a story on the radio today where a lady who struggles for food said a good day for her is when she gets half a glass of goat milk and cornmeal soup for the day.”

To help the message sink in further, maybe weekend we’ll take the boy to a soup kitchen.

I won’t categorize the experience as learning through guilt. Instead, I chalk it up as teaching through reality.

I’ll know I’m successful when he cleans his plate and then says, “dad, can we volunteer at the soup kitchen again this weekend?”

OK, now I’m dreaming. So I’ll lower my goals and just shoot for the clean plate.

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Reader Comments (19)

Been there. Done that. Have the battle wounds to prove it. Unfortunately even at 12 years old, we still have these fights with The Boy. Good luck on getting them to eat right. If you manage to take them to the soup kitchen or other helping organization, please write about it. I've had the same thought myself.

August 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMike

I think you should give them a diner of goats milk and oatmeal....

August 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

Keep it up, and do NOT fall to the feeding them what they want thing. Sure, dont make them sit there and stare at the plate, thats just mean. But they WILL NOT STARVE!

August 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

Back in the day, I had a friend who complained about breakfast one morning. His mom slapped him outta the chair and threw it away. He never complained again! LOL Ahhhh those were the days hahahaha I only quit having those fights with my son when he graduated, got a job, and can go buy his own fast food if he doesn't like dinner!

August 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJan

I don't have kids, but I have nephews, and I see the same reactions from them. And I vaguely remember being a fish sticks/mac-n-cheese kind of kid (I have since graduated to sushi as well, and I can't stand to eat mac-n-cheese anymore). As an ignorant, childless being, I was under the assumption that exposing your kids to a wide variety of food will ensure that they like a wide variety of food. Apparently this isn't the case, huh?

August 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterOneBlondeGirl

Right on, man. I think that kids should have the right to choose what they want to eat, but I also believe that we have to draw the line somewhere. Until they learn how to cook for themselves, they are stuck with what we give em. And they better be glad it's not something you found in the dumpster outside.

August 11, 2010 | Unregistered Commenter@MeganMonique

we grew up eating what we DIDN'T finish for dinner ... for breakfast!!

I don't go to that level, but we are really trying hard to not cook 5 different meals for the 5 different members of our family. There's a balance to cooking what you KNOW they'll eat ... and feeding them in a healthy way.

I LOVE pork chops!

August 11, 2010 | Unregistered Commenternaomi

I formerly had similar battles... until we implemented the "you eat it or you get nothing else" rule.
We started over a year ago and our girls know it's not a joke. If they don't eat what is served to them for dinner (an age/size appropriate amount of whatever my wanna-be chef husband decides to cook) then they will be served it for breakfast (and lunch, if neccessary) the next day.
The girls palates have expanded and we don't even get grumbles when sprouts or broccoli is placed in front of them.

August 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

I thought you didn't eat meat...

August 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRebekah

I'm a former executive chef with two culinary degrees. I can make anything the kids want, and what do they want? Fucking corndogs! With ranch to dip them in and some sort of chip. It makes me want to bash my head through the wall. I can only wish they'd eat sushi, which is my hands down favorite thing in the world. The most exotic thing they'll eat that I make is mushroom duxele stuffed chicken breast and even then they want to dip it in ranch. I feel for you on the Gordon Ramsay feeling. I've had the little one drop his plate on the floor and give it to the dog.

August 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChris

This sounds like my house. With 4 sons and 1 daughter there is bound to be at least one unhappy kid at dinner time.

August 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

For 21 years my standard answer to children saying, "what's for dinner" or "we are starving" has been one of the following.
"air and if your lucky I will give you water to drink and steam for desert"
" rat turds and bat hair soup, I can make a pie if you guys can find any goat holves"

they respond as expected with EWW, Gross, nuh uh and laughter.
when dinner is served and they bitch and moan, I say, " seriously, I thought I did great with the neighbors dogs ass and dirt from dads toes".
They gag at first and then realize wow, this bitch just doesn't care, and if we keep complaining she will probably make us eat that stuff. Shut up and choke it down or go hungry it will be in the fridge next to grandpas wart cream if you don't eat it now you can have it later,

August 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThePeachy1

Perhaps I'm the lucky one but my children will eat anything. Sushi, pork chops, asparagus, brussel sprouts, egg toast.

I have made other items for dinner sometimes when what I've made is a little too spicy for them. But then that's my bad for adding too much spice!

MMMMm now I want something with honey pineapple glaze dude!

August 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNoel

The 2 year old monster has already learned we mean business. She has went to bed hungry a few times, and she doesn't get any snacks the next day either until she decided to eat what is given at meal time. She didn't eat anything for about 2 days when she finally broke down and ate what was in front of her. We haven't had this fight since.

August 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMamaBennie

You make Mommy Dearest look like a pushover. Your kids can summer with us and have sushi ;)

August 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLady of the House

oh my brother, i could talk to you about this all day. it has gotten slightly better in my house, but the food stuff pushes all of my buttons, and hard. i'm a natural-food junkie vegetarian with kids who are suspicious of all vegetables and fruit. i cannot abide throwing food away. i want everyone to like my food. ugh, button after button. we enforce the rule that when mommy makes a dish, they must try it. and both kids have sat at the table sobbing because they didn't want to take that one bite. i cannot stand that. but, it only happened once each. and if they don't eat dinner, they get nothing else and they know it. i don't cook separate meals or dishes, everyone eats what's for dinner. i do think it's getting a bit better, everyone is evolving, myself included. keep the faith. if you're interested, i've written on this subject, too. yikes.

August 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMarian

I agree with you completely. And let me tell ya, the soup kitchen is a great idea. When I was in high school I volunteered to work our local soup kitchen for over a year and it was great. I learned a lot of very valuable leasons which kids lack these days.

August 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJessica W

I have 2 "special" kids, so with texture issues and taste issues abound, I've resigned myself to being a short order cook. We feed the kids at the senior citizen early hour they prefer to eat, and then we adults eat after they go to bed - in peace. We expose them to other foods, but if anything, my kids have taught me to choose my battles, and dinner just isn't one of them these days.

August 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

I have to say that it does not really get better. My husband and I have a 14yr old, and I have sat at the table while he tried to make himself puke because I told him he had to eat three brusselsprouts. He refuses to eat all of our favorite vegetables, like mushrooms and zucchini. We get past it by my grating stuff up and hiding it in the meals. Meatloaf for dinner? Grate a whole zucchini and mix it in. brusselsprouts chopped very fine work in soups and stir-fry (it hides in with the bok choy). Mushrooms in the food processor hide very well in spaghetti sauce. The boy wants to be a chef, and I keep telling him that he has to be willing to try anything that is placed in front of him. Maybe when his culinary teachers tell him the same thing, I won't have to hide the veggies any more.......

August 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHollie

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