Generally speaking meal time at our house is pretty low key. Our oldest is a foodie, and the only thing we have discovered he does not like is Sushi (he was very disappointed to learn this.) Our youngest plays the ‘I’m little and my tummy is full,’ card a lot, but will eat small amounts of most anything. The middle two boys are most likely to preform dinner hour theatrics. Perhaps it is simple logistics, (they sit together and egg each other on) or perhaps they really do have sensitive palates. Having said all that, for the most part my children eat what I serve with minimal complaining.
This was not the case one night a couple of weeks ago. It was a lovely spring day. Feeling inspired by the sunshine, I grilled a bunch of chicken and vegetables and tossed them with Chinese noodles and a Vietnamese BBQ sauce. I won’t lie, I was kind of impressed with the outcome.
I called the children to the table, and it was soon evident the middle two boys felt very differently than I did about my efforts. Though having experienced variations of this dish before, on this day the combination of ingredients laying on their plate made them recoil in shock. Did I actually expect them to eat this, they questioned me in horror?
When it became clear, that yes, this was indeed my expectation they immediately began to protest. The noodles in and of themselves were not too scary but would be preferred with ketchup.
Not going to happen.
The chicken, while normally enjoyed by all, seemed to have morphed into something unrecognizable during its time on the BBQ and was not fit for human consumption. I explained that while it was unfortunate they felt this way, they still were going to have to eat it.
I educated them on the nutritional punch each item on their plate packed, and that’s why it was important they eat all of it. Surprisingly, the revealed health benefits of what they were about to consume still did not sway them.
The oldest wolfed down his food and hurried outside to continue watering the trees, only popping his head back in the door to ask us to save him some leftovers. The youngest cheerfully exclaimed over each mouthful; every bite a delightful symphony of flavours. (A blatant overcompensation for the behaviour that was occurring across from her.)
In what would otherwise have been a heartwarming show of sibling solidarity, the north end of the table erupted in moaning and wailing. They lamented the horrors of zucchini’s texture. They exclaimed on the pain of having to ingest mushrooms, which were surely never meant to be consumed. Noticing Rob and I exchange a smile, they railed against the baseless cruelty of parents who enjoyed watching their children suffer. The smell, taste and texture of the dish were so awful that it was even ruining chocolate for them. (We did not fully understand this connection, but did understand they were trying to make the point that what they were eating was exceptionally bad.)
Koby protested that he would rather eat his own vomit. Rob insinuated it might come to that. (He was joking). Max declared that prison food would be preferable to the food I made. Rob insinuated it might come to that. (Again, joking).
Considering the joy with which I started my supper preparations, the meal was clearly a fail of epic proportions. The wailing and gnashing of teeth subsided only after they were tucked into bed.
Needless to say, the next day, disheartened by the dinner hour drama, I relented to pressure and proceeded to Little Cesar’s for some hot and ready pizza. As we drove to pick up the pizzas, I made some lame joke about picking up our cardboard with sauce and cheese for supper.
Shay nodded his head in understanding. Yes, he announced, the crust was very similar in taste and texture to cardboard. Attempting to stay positive, he cheerfully noted that this was not all bad, however, since cardboard was the nicest tasting of paper products.
I glanced at him as I drove. Sort of wanting to know, but sort of scared to, I asked him what it was about cardboard that won the taste test. I couldn’t help but think regular paper would be more palatable than cardboard. You know, easier to chew, swallow, and digest. I learned that apparently, cardboard leaves a much nicer aftertaste. Well. Can’t really argue with that I guess.
(Yes, I do wonder if my cooking is really such that I have driven them to sampling art supplies!)
We enjoyed a much calmer, if not nutritionally superior, supper and finished the day with family devotions and prayer time. When it was her turn to pray, my Skye bowed her head and oh so sweetly began talking to Jesus.
“Dear Jesus,” she prayed, “Please help me not to panic when Mom puts scary food on my plate, because, it’s probably good for me.”
I almost choked on tears of supressed laughter. My heart was full. And I too prayed a prayer.
Bread of Life, please help me not to panic when you feed me that which I wasn’t expecting, do not recognize, or even like. It’s probably good for me.