Guest Blogger...Judy FedeleShort Order Cook for Short Fries
Sometimes I feel like I live in my kitchen. Besides the coupon cutting and menu planning while I sit at the table, there’s the endless parade of meals I prepare daily. Then of course there are all the pots, pans and dishes, which must be cleaned multiple times a day (and night).
Lately I’m also in the kitchen a lot because my two year old has found fun new things to explore in there. There’s the ever-exciting pantry with whole shelves of precious snackage to raid. There is my spice rack to unload and reload. And in the past few days, my tiny little powerhouse has learned how to pry open the fridge and freezer by herself. She will stand there before the open door, cold air washing over her, and gloat at her new powers.
This child also has very specific ideas about what she wants to eat and is very vocal about expressing herself. Recently she requested ‘soup’ and ‘salad’ for her meal. Which would have been fine, except that it was 6:18 in the morning. Delia doesn’t get the concept that there are certain foods that correspond to particular meal-times. She just wants what she wants. I tried to sway her, offering her sweet oatmeal, eggs, fruit, etc. But the offered feast went uneaten. Sometimes I think she just likes the concept of ordering food like she’s at a fancy restaurant. “I’ll have one of these and one of those and more of something else as soon as I learn the word for it…”
I don’t really mind the cooking. I get a lot of satisfaction feeding my family and seeing them enjoy the home-cooked meals I’ve lovingly prepared for them. The trouble comes from the simple fact that 90% of my time, I’m cooking for, well… children. Which means that an uncomplicated task like eating becomes an triathalon-style event. What they’ll eat on any given day will vary. ‘Trying New Food’ is met with skepticism and distrust. Jaime (my 8 year old) will not even look at new food these days. She’s turned into a prima donna fussy food queen (think pizza scraped entirely clean of everything till it resembles little more than a triangle of wet bread). Then there’s Delia. Suspicion on her face, my two year old will extend the merest tip of her tongue out to taste offered food as if I’m trying to poison her. I’m sure the two of them would be happy with nuggets and fries every night. Even driving past a McDonald’s, which for the record we visit only infrequently (infrequently being a single word as opposed to in…frequently) even Delia will scream “Ketchup!” as we drive by, followed by, “Thank you! Thank you!” which she thinks will prompt me to stop and buy her fries. Fast food joints are inherently evil. Once they get a taste, it’s like heroin in the bloodstream. Must – have – fries … they say shakily. Never mind the fat content and the inherent unhealthiness of it all.
It’s a no-win situation for parents. I really do make the effort to serve delicious and nutritious meals. Sometimes they eat, sometimes they clamor for more kid-friendly choices. The ‘feeding of the family’ is one of the hardest and most time-consuming challenges we have as moms. How much of the effort is actually ‘consumed’ varies on the day and the year. Stages and ages. Most days I feel like I’m a short order cook for short fries. Short on time with a short fuse on my temper. Wish I could say it’s all a tall tale, but it’s not. And yet, with all the problems, I am grateful because at least we do have the means to feed them. Though my older girl seems to think she is starving and cannot comprehend waiting longer than 10 minutes for food to be ready, I know she’s not too bad off. In time both she and her little sister will understand how lucky they are when it comes to the wealth of food they have access to.
Even if they do want salad for breakfast, or mac and cheese every day for three weeks, I know it’ll all work out eventually. “Train a child in the way she will go…” I trust that when they are grown up, my girls will remember their mom’s good home cooking and try to model the example by making good food choices of their own. I’m also looking forward to the day when they’ll have to cook for their own kids. That’ll serve them right.
Publicity Director, Believers’ Chapel MOPS
Cicero, New York
To find out more about Judy's group, go to: http://www.orgsites.com/ny/believerschapelmops/