A second installment in my family’s dinnertime battle. To see how it all began, check out this post here.
As a parent, I’ve tried my best to shield my children from grief and pain. Unfortunately, my three daughters are confronted with a horrific tragedy every evening at dinner. I’m a good cook (at least that’s what everyone not of my loins tells me). My three professional mourners are the ones performing the stages of grief the moment a plate hits the table.
Addie, my youngest, embraces the denial and anger stages. Granted, these two emotions are like air and water for most two-year-olds. Addie has a “get thee behind me, Satan” reaction to meals. Ridding the table of all edible demons through sweeping hand gestures, she’ll then attempt to exorcise what’s left of her meal with whatever cutlery is within reach. When the sharp objects have been removed for her safety, she’ll throw herself out of her chair and roll on the floor as if evil spirits from the food pyramid left her plate and chose her as their new host. On a good night, she’ll simply ignore the dinner altogether and will be satiated for the evening by her inner stubbornness and apple juice.
Bea is my bargainer. Prior to dinner, she’ll come to me in the kitchen much like a lawyer approaches the bench. Voice lowered, she’ll ask what is on the menu for the night, and how many bites she’ll need to eat. Since I wasn’t born yesterday (unlike my children), I’ll begin with a high count, and by the time I’ve finished making dinner, we have settled on an appropriate amount of 10 calorie bites of food for her to consume. Despite our pre-trial negotiations, Bea quickly falls into depression when given the tangible evidence of her agreement. She spends the last twenty minutes of dinner in silence, tears slowly trickling down her face, making a puddle between her mashed potatoes and green peas.
It took seven years, but I have finally reached the acceptance stage with my oldest, Gracie. But since she started watching cooking shows, my chicken should have been brined, my acid should have been balanced with fat, and, her greatest hit, “Could use just a little bit more salt, Mom”. As the only stars in my kitchen are from preschool art projects, not Michelin, she is continually disappointed in each night’s fare, but handles the shortcomings with the patience of a seven-year-old (which is none).
There have been days where I’ve wanted to crawl into bed and ignore the debacle that is my culinary life. But there’s a sixth, and final stage of grief: ordering pizza.