So, it's 6:15. Josie is at her first softball practice with Joe, who was fresh (and by fresh I mean, not fresh, but dusty from loading seed, working with cattle, etc., etc.), and the rest of the kids and I have just finished dinner.
6:15, and we're finished? Why, Emily, you must be some sort of galloping gourmet! You must have had your meals planned, prepped and presented by 5:15, gobbled up with seconds of fruits and no dessert by 6:00, right?
Oh, heaven's no.
There's this thing, called meal planning, and I stink at it.
I'm terrible. I'm the queen of defrosting meat in the microwave very, very last minute, only to realize the recipe I'm making takes 20 minutes of prep and 30 minutes of cook/bake time.
My kids won't eat it.
There are days that I want to just give up. Want to just give into their mac-n-cheese, Nutella sandwiches on white bread whims with Doritos, and just serve that without worrying about vegetable intake or fruit sides.
On occasion, I do. We eat cereal for dinner (honestly, who doesn't remember doing that often in their college/young adult years?). We have Nutella on toast with eggs. However, six meals out of seven are not random. I do put some thought into them, even if the thought is 15 seconds before I realize Josie has practice at 6:00, and I didn't turn the oven on, just put it in without thinking (Kathleen…it's your fault. We were recapping our week…I was distracted.).
Anyway, on the days I get to pick, we eat it. Or don't. I refuse to force my children to eat (I won't tell you about the Easter dinner I force fed Anna mashed potatoes, and she promptly barfed them up on me. Wait, I just did.). I also refuse to make them a PB&J when we have a perfectly nice, nutritious meal in front of them.
So, they have two choices:
Take it. Or leave it.
Maybe that seems harsh, but if you look at my children, no one is starving. Everyone is just testing the waters. Testing my limits as a parent, and testing their developing taste buds. We all have meals our parents used to make when we were kids that we may or may not have spit out in the toilet during a "may I be excused to the bathroom" during dinner. Spaghetti pie was my nemesis as a kid. Meatloaf was my brother's. Joe had something they called S-H on a shingle. We all have it. However, my mother never said, "Oh forget it," giving me Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch instead. She gave me two choices:
Or leave it.
And so, the legend lives on in my parenting with food.
Life around here is full of good food. We have the best beef around. We are blessed with fresh produce, whole grains, meals prepared with love (and the help of speed defrost). However, my kids are still kids. They are still picky some days, and eaters the next. They hate Mexican Lasagna (Happy Cinco de Mayo) tonight, but will probably like it the next time.
They crave the familiar.
They want the same.
But I refuse to cave. I will continue to expand their pallets. I won't give up.
Except for maybe tomorrow…when we have Eggo waffles and OJ, because, let's face it, I'm tired.