“Why, Mom, why?” The youngest whined at suppertime.
A kid whining about food is a sound a parent never tires of … in Sarcasticland. This particular 11-year-old “why-ning” as soon as I took dinner out of the oven set my mom-senses tingling.
It was a long day (aren’t they all?) but this dinner was focused on him. I had started it early to optimally coordinate his digestion with that night’s basketball practice, plus I was trying a new recipe which usually excites this child. Did my new recipe champion switch sides?
I can’t lose that ally! Of the five people in this house, two are picky eaters. After trying every single parenting trick I could find to get my then-toddler daughter to try new foods, I gave up and went with the Don’t make a big deal out of it. Make healthy food available and she’ll try it when she is ready method in 2001.
In 2017, she’s still not ready. But she’s independent and cooks for herself. She’ll eat with us just not what I serve.
The other picky one? His pickiness was born on another mom’s watch. Apologies to my mother-in-law; I know she tried, but my husband likes what he likes, and that’s about it. He calls himself a “Consistent Eater.” He likes a variety, but doesn’t like that variety to change. (I call that an oxymoron, but not, you know, out loud.) Any new recipe I try is met with a raised eyebrow, a sniff and, in most cases, him making something for himself.
Which leaves the eager-eating boys. One of them is well into his teenage years, the other at the cusp, and both, given free rein, will eat enormous quantities of whatever they can get their hands on.
Case in point: I had found an appetizer recipe for the holidays that I wanted to try for company. One of the ingredients was a certain sized loaf of rustic (read: pricey) bread. The day I brought it into the house I found the older son standing over the sink, ripping into it.
“That was for a recipe!” I shouted at him. He shoved a huge chunk in his mouth to, I can only assume, hide the evidence.
“What? Dad ate it first,” he said.
Just then Dad walked in the room, heard that he was thrown under the bus, spun around and walked out saying over his shoulder, “Oh yeah, that was really good bread.”
Guess I can add pricey rustic ciabatta to his “variety list.”
Dinnertime in our house was very routine for quite a few years. I used to brag about our nightly family dinners. (Yeah, brag; everybody needs to do something they are proud of with no shame.) For years it was family dinner at 6.
And dinner is still at 6.
Or not at all, because the only people home can fend for themselves. I know that in a few years, when the older two are away at college, then when the youngest eventually follows them out the door, I’m really going to miss those dinners.
But for now I’m happy to have a bit more flexibility. The pressure is off and the pleasure of cooking is back.
Until Noah had whined at me.
“Why, Mom? Whyyyyyyy?”
I reached for my own wine, Merlot, and braced myself for a whine battle. “Why what?”
“Why don’t you make this more often? I love this!”
“You didn’t even taste it, yet.” I said.
“Don’t have to,” he said wisely, “I know.”
It was a very fine whine, indeed.