The Daily Nightmare Called Dinner

I have the same nightmare. It happens every night, especially nights that we are at home. It’s, for certain, the most stressful time of the day for me. It’s time of day I dread more than anything. It usually involves yelling, crying, groaning, or a combination of all three. My nightmare is called Dinner Time.

My three kids cannot, will not, ever agree on the same dinner. One of my youngest girls declared she was a vegetarian back when she turned three, so making any dish that involves meat is out of the question. My other two girls are a little easier to cook for, but each of them only like a couple fruits and two veggies (corn and broccoli). I eat gluten-free due to an autoimmune disease.  That means I become a short-order cook at mealtime. Mac and cheese for the vegetarian–and I toss some fruit onto her plate since it’s one thing she does actually love and won’t complain about.  Hamburgers with pickles (that’s close enough to a vegetable, right?) for the other two, and I throw some of the leftover mac and cheese on their plates. Me, I eat the burger sans bun and watch the girls gobble down their noodle-cheese comfort food with envy. God, I miss gluten.

Of course, halfway through the meal, the vegetarian will declare something like, “This isn’t the mac and cheese I like. I wanted the one shaped like Sponge Bob! I’m not eating this!” She pushes her plate aside, and the dinner tantrum starts. Another kid will say, “I’m full–I don’t really feel like eating any more of my burger. But can I have dessert now?” I say no, to eat the burger first, and now I have two kids grumbling about how awful dinner is. My voice starts to get louder, “I just spent the last thirty minutes cooking all this. You need to eat it! And no dessert until you do!” And the third sweet child knows to keep her mouth shut and just continue to eat dinner whether she likes what’s on her plate or not.

Eating out isn’t any more pleasant. Choosing a place that everyone is happy with becomes dramatic–one starts crying because we aren’t going to Chick-fil-A again, one is angry because we ALWAYS go to Panera Bread, or I get a bunch of eye-rolling and huge sighs because I picked a restaurant that is organic and what I consider more healthy (“Oh, gross. Organic food is disgusting! Even daddy says so!”).

Guess what, kids? Unfortunately, I’m the one that does the cooking and I’m the one that can drive a car. So, therefore, it looks like you are going to have to deal with whatever I make for dinner. You will have to go to whatever restaurant I drive to when we head out for the night.   And you will have to eat it (unless you want to pay for it).  Complain all you want, but dinner is dinner–you get what you get.

I’m perfectly happy if you’d like to cook dinner instead. Please, do.

Oh, and don’t forget when you do the cooking, that I don’t like gluten, carrots, or red meat. And I promise will do my best to pitch a fit if you make something I don’t want.