At Jacob's one year old checkup, our beloved pediatrician gave us this talk: "Jacob is one now. You are not a short-order cook. At meals, he should sit at the table with the two of you and eat whatever you eat. This will lay the foundation for a lifetime of good eating habits." And then at Elizabeth's one year old checkup, the same beloved pediatrician gave us this talk: "Elizabeth is one now. You are not a short-order cook. At meals, she should sit at the table with the rest of the family and eat whatever the rest of the family eats. This will lay the foundation for a lifetime of good eating habits." Caroline's one year old checkup is coming up, and I might ask if I can do the honors of delivering the mealtime talk myself. (Incidentally, he also tells us at one year old checkups that it is time to say goodbye to the pacifier, and you can see how well that went for us.)
He has never asked us how the objective reality of our lives was matching up with the utopian vision of mealtimes that he presented at these checkups. Because my objective reality is that I am a short-order cook. I did not intend to become one. But I am one. It is not unusual for us to have dinner in which I prepare all of the following: chicken nuggets, grilled chicken, grilled cheese sandwiches, peanut butter waffles (Nutri Grain, though -- gold star!), cream cheese waffles, hot dogs, eggs, grits, diced banana, sliced strawberries, peas, rice, and some kind of grown up meal that has two or three components to it. I feel like a fool as I do it. But there I am, dashing between the toaster, the refrigerator, the microwave, the pantry, the stove and the table, wielding my trusty kitchen shears,
dicing, spreading, and ketchuping, all in an effort to get my picky children (whom I have no doubt made all the pickier by indulging their pickiness in this way) to eat something suitable for dinner. Here is Caroline (cheese toast, pasta with butter, broccoli, milk, babyfood applesauce) at dinner tonight:
Jacob (chicken nuggets, peanut butter waffle, grapes, milk, rice):
Elizabeth (same as Jacob, but delete peanut butter waffle, add Scooby cheese (which is like regular cheese but it comes in a Scooby Doo wrapper):
Cathy and David (grilled vegetable pitas with goat cheese and pesto mayo):
I know that it is time to stop the insanity. This is my early new years' resolution. I need to remember Stuart Smalley of SNL fame (am I dating myself here?) and his daily affirmations. I will tell myself: "I am good enough. I am smart enough. And doggone it, I am not a short-order cook." Stay tuned.