My youngest houligan is 16. And he is
a jackass, a DELIGHT (!) when it comes to cooking for him. The meal dictatorship I was running when my older three were at home is now clearly defunct. They all knew early on that no matter how much I loved to cook, I would only be making one meal for dinner. ONE MEAL. No options for a picky eater. If they chose not to eat what I was cooking, their other choice was cereal. And since all of them were so…so….compliant, this was rarely an issue. The only time a food battle attempted to rear its ugly head were two separate forays into veganism by both daughters, who assumed I was going to start prepping separate meals for them. Nope.
This brings me to the Final Fourth. He can be a tyrant. I mean I love him, but he’s like an only child, and since I have no one to wait on but him, AND I love to cook, we have gone down a dark, dark rabbit hole. This rabbit hole is one where I repeatedly ask him, “what would you like for dinner?” to which he replies “whatever,” and then THE GAME IS ON. Like Donkey Kong. I start suggesting things, and he starts swatting them down. His favorite phrase is…”you know, I’ve really lost my taste for that.” ‘That’ in question has included anything from shrimp, to bacon, to pepperoni on his homemade pizza. One of our more epic throw downs (and not a fun one like with Bobby Flay) occurred when he told me his breakfast sandwich would taste sooooo much better if it had a piece of bacon on it. Really? Because four years ago, you told me you’d lost your taste for bacon. TOTAL B.S. I really went ’round the bend that morning. He found his own ride to school…
But truly, It’s gotten to be ridiculous. We hit ground zero last week when I prepared marinated skirt steak fajitas with roasted onions and bell peppers served with not ONE, but TWO homemade salsas and he told me that didn’t “sound very good.” He then, on his own dime, ordered Panda Express. PANDA. EXPRESS. If I told you I didn’t take this as a personal affront, I’d be lying. I understand, cooking is my hobby. I love to meal plan, especially when I go to school three nights a week. It makes me happy that I am leaving him something yummy to eat after a long day at school. But honestly, I feel like I’m force feeding someone against their will. Growing up, I would have given my eye teeth to come home to a dinner like that. Again, my mother was the anti-Julia Child. Three nights out of seven we could count on chicken she had roasted at 400 degrees for an hour, some over-cooked broccoli, and dry rice. If we were lucky, there was a small pat of butter on that rice. I ate that first.
Anywhoosy, I totally realize this is about me. I have been a strong proponent of kids eating to their appetite. I didn’t force feed them, make them clean their plate, or follow them around with a yogurt stick trying to shove it down their throats. I knew that they would eventually eat what was put in front of them and they wouldn’t perish for lack of food. The kids just ate what we ate (I knew I was being semi-successful when my oldest child asked what time we were having champagne and hors d’ouerves? She was 4). He, on the other hand is just a different kid, at a different place in our lives. He is also a magnificent little chef, so he’s not afraid to whip something up himself. The way I’ve gotten around his food issues lately is doing a lot of meal prep on Sundays and then he is free to cook what he likes, for me, on the nights I go to school. Just trying not to take this whole thing personally. Which, on occasion, I LOVE to do.