Saturday, September 4, 2010

Dinner Training -- an Experience in and of Itself

A while back I wrote about my struggles with food.  Food and I just don't get along.  I understand that it's necessary for life, but it's hard for me.

Now take that and imagine being a mother.  Someone who is theoretically in charge of keeping others alive.  In charge of feeding them.  Ugh.

It was tough enough when they were little.  Three meals a day, plus snacks, actually spoon-fed to them.  All grocery shopping - mine.  All preparation - mine.  All clean up - mine.  And they would eat most of what I offered.  When they were small.

But as we all know, growing up tends to allow us to form our own opinions.  Even about food.  Pretty soon they were refusing what I offered.  I was cooking to make them happy.  I wanted them to eat so I prepared what they liked.

This wasn't usually too hard for my husband.  He'll eat almost anything.  He's just glad when someone else makes the food for him.

For me it was tough.  I wanted them to have balanced meals, but I don't really like meat.  So they would have meat, vegetables, fruit, dairy.  I would have a potato.  Or corn.  It was more important to me to feed them than to feed myself.  And easier because they liked food.

Now they are teens (yes, I just promoted my baby by a year).  They are practically adults (one is).  Shouldn't they be feeding themselves?  I thought so.

So we divided up the week.  Each of us has one day a week that we are in charge of dinner.  Choosing it.  Purchasing the food for it.  Preparing it.  Serving it. 

Doesn't that sound lovely?

When it works, it is.  At least one day a week they know that they will like what is prepared.  If they don't like it, they are in charge of feeding themselves.  I don't care if they eat cold cereal, ramen noodles, or just tater tots.  As long as they take care of it.

This sounds like a great way to teach them tolerance and understanding of what it's like to be in charge of the food.  Or a great way to teach them to cook.  Or shop for groceries.  Whatever.

But we have cheaters.  Rather than learn to cook or actually do any work, they want Little Caesar's.  Or they buy turkey, rolls, and cheese and announce that we're having hoagies.

And I am just too tired to fight it.  Which is why I gave them the responsibility in the first place.  I'm just too tired to care about food anymore.  We're not quite at the if-you-want-to-eat-you'd-better-go-kill-something stage, but we're close.

It's not without flaws, but it's functioning for now.  Barely.  It will get us through for a bit.

And every once in a while we have a magical moment when one of them comes to me and wants to cook an actual meal.  "Mom, can you teach me how to make chicken enchiladas?"

It's a glorious moment.

And then I remember that I really can't cook.  But that's another story.


ridgely johnson said...

Your words speak to me- I started telling people I could not cook ~ 15 years ago- decided the less I thought about food the better. Well, what happened? Women were appalled that I would admit such a thing, and men looked at my husband with that, oh, I get it look.
My problem with food goes WAY back- seven years ago- had gastric bypass- long story short- lost and keeping off 100#.
I attribute a good bit of my success to my forced lack of interest in food. If I get wrapped up in it, I am bombarded with the wants.
I look up to you. You are allowing your kids to actually see what life is about.
Anytime you want to hangout and not talk food, let me know ;-)

Kazzy said...

I love food, so I cannot relate at all here, but I do know that it is tough to keep people happy around the table. I always joke with Geo that when we are on our own I will make more fun stuff with lots of veggies and other things the kids don't love!

Running Circles said...

I can semi relate to you not liking meat. I find that when I have to cook it myself, sometimes I can't bring myself to eat it. However, if someone else cooks it, then I'm all for it. Too bad I'm the only person that cooks in this home lol.

Just Another Person said...

yup I know how cooking three meals per day and doing the dishes can be. It's cool that your husband eats whatever you cook. My wife does too. But sometimes I feel bad when I do pasta like three nights in a row. I'm sure you aren't as bad at cooking as you think. I love cooking. But depression definitely gets in the way sometimes. It's good that your kids are experiencing what it's like to make food for themselves.

Katy said...

You didn't really say, but it sounds like you still try to get everyone together for dinner. Sometimes I think that matters more than the food.

AngieB said...

Oh, my. I think I'm having an "If you want something to eat you'd better go kill something" day. That truly just about covers it. Thanks for naming it for me ;)