If you ever want to know how to torture a mom, all you really have to do is ask her one question: What’s for dinner?
This has been the question to cause more arguments in my marriage than almost anything else. More than how much I spend on Kindle books every month, more than how much I paid for the Dior makeup I love so much, and more than the time I accidentally dumped the rocks from the fish bowl into the garbage disposal.
The problem is, I married someone with the palate of a ten year old. (Yes, Other Half, I know you eat broccoli and carrots. Doesn’t help me). And then, I had babies with him, and the pickiness increased exponentially. This means that our kids think that for dinner we should either have chicken, chicken, or chicken. Pizza if they’re feeling adventurous. Cereal if they’ve given up on life.
Recently, we decided that we were going to try the top notch parenting game called “eat it or starve.” I believe in some homes this is known as spaghetti night.
Anyway, we compromised with Mary Ann because she doesn’t eat beef. Like ever. One time we forced her to eat chili beans and after dinner I caught her crying in her closet, FaceTiming my mom saying, “It was so terrible Mamaw. It got like stuck in my throat and I almost puked everywhere.” We allowed her to eat only plain noodles.
Benjamin Button though, has always eaten spaghetti. It might not be his favorite, but he usually muddles through. This night though, he starts with the weeping and wailing. “I hate spaghetti now! No one ever listens to what I want! You guys must hate me!” (Yes, this is a good place to roll your eyes).
So, as per the rules of “Eat it or Starve”, we told him he was not getting up from the table until he ate his spaghetti. No snacks. No video games. No nothing. After a few minutes, he figured out that his cute little boy face was not going to change our minds, He took the tiniest bite, and then starts crying about how nasty it is.
We ignore him and just say, “You can get up after you finish the food on your plate.” Meanwhile, we finished our meals and I went to clean the plates. Other Half whispers to me, “Watch this,” and gets an ice cream sandwich. I grab one of the bundt cakes (you know, the ones God brought me like church lady casseroles). We go sit down at the table to basically make Benjamin Button’s life miserable for taking 25 minutes to poke around at his spaghetti.
There was some yelling. There was some attempting to steal the Sun Drop (for out of state readers, it’s a citrus flavored soda that has so much carbonation it makes your ears pop and I’m pretty sure causes kidney stones, and us Carolinians treat it with reverence usually reserved for preachers and grandmas).
Eventually, he ate the spaghetti just so he could get back to his video games. But now, I’m trying to figure out if it was worth it or not. If I’m being honest, I don’t care what my kids eat for dinner. I mean, I don’t want them to get coronary disease or scurvy or anything, but I might be willing to risk it if I never have to suffer through another spaghetti night again. And if you’ve never had thoughts like these, are you even a real parent? How does it work at your house?