I like cooking. I’d like it more if I had more than 12 square inches of counter space for prep but I do like cooking. For me, part of the the pleasure of cooking is envisioning sitting down and eating the meal. I picture the look of it on the plate, the moment of relaxation when I take my seat, I think of the flavors in the food. It’s a sweet anticipation of a reward for work done well.
But my anticipation, and my actual enjoyment of my food, is shot to hell by the reality of eating with my kids.
My son doesn’t like to eat. If it were up to him he’d survive on juice boxes and Pirate’s Booty consumed on the fly. Siting at a table and enjoying food and communing with friends or family cramps his active style. To make matters worse, he’s a picky eater and everything I put down in front of him turns into a protracted negotiating point over what he has to eat and how much. Even a fast food burger has to be disassembled to remove any offending pickles. Once he deigns to eat, he vacuums up his portion and leaps out of his seat to get to a treat or second cup of milk, often before I’ve had more than three bites. Then I end up lecturing him about patience and manners in that way that makes me hate the sound of my own voice.
My baby, on the other hand, likes food. Particularly food on my plate. She sits at my right hand in her high chair screeching like a seagull and reaching for my fork as it makes progress toward my mouth. She drops her cup in way that make it leak so I need to stop eating to deal with it before the mess spreads. And she won’t let me wipe her hands or face so I often wear more of the meal than her brother actually consumed.
So, tell me. Is there anything about this scenario that inspires you to cook lovingly for these people? Or do you want to toss chicken fingers at them and hope for minimal whining?
I persist in cooking for my kids because its the right thing to do. But it’s a joyless venture. I feel weary the whole time I’m getting the food ready and I feel wearier when I sit down and brace for the first “Mommy, can I have…” of the meal. I tell myself that I’m laying a foundation and eventually my son’s palate will improve and they’ll both learn table manners and we can be pleasant dinner companions. But until that day, I really don’t like cooking for my kids.
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