I need a new challenge.

Nobody cried at dinner last night. I feel….somehow empty inside.

I guess all my babies are growing up. The growing up part is obvious: we’ve got a high schooler, two middle schoolers and a third grader. No more little kids here, truly, but it wasn’t so long ago that we had to help to tie shoes, police what went on in the bathroom, and read stories at nighttime (but actually, I still do that).

As any mother can attest, dinner time is always a challenge. And with four different children at different stages, with different palates and different degrees of maturity, making sure the dinner menu will pass muster is always an intense exercise in creativity, or perhaps practiced deafness.

For many years, it seemed that at least three times a week I could get at least 50% of my children to cry about what was for dinner. There also was a time that all this crying at dinner used to make me crazy, but then I had a slight attitude adjustment and decided that I would make it my own personal quest: how many children would cry at dinner that night when they discovered what was on the menu? (My personal best was 100%, but that was several years ago. More recently my unstated goal is 75%. )

Now lest you think I was serving things like frogs legs en croute, or liver & onions, or tripe with a side of pate, I would like to clarify. I serve nothing that fancy or foreign ever — in fact, in the circle of friends I run with I am celebrated mocked for my immature palate. (The rule of thumb for feeding me has been “if an 8 year old likes it, she will too.” I’m not proud of it, but it is the truth. And please don’t tell me about your 8-year-old sushi fan, or your second grader who devours steak tartare. That’s not the 8-year-old we’re talking about here.)

Anyhoo — my dinner menus? Such random drivel as chicken parmagiana, meatloaf, pasta primavera, tacos…..It had gotten to the point where, when asked what was for dinner, I would answer, “Poison. With a side of poison.” Then there would be begging and pleading about, “Really, Mooooooom, what’s for dinner,” and I would wait for the imaginary drumroll in my head before answering something like, “Chinese Chicken [a family recipe consisting of sauteed chicken and the uber-exotic….soy sauce] and rice.” And I would watch as the words sat there on the kitchen floor — like a cloud of noxious gas — and wait to see who would be overcome. Inevitably, it took only a minute or two before word of the dinner spread through the ranks, and someone came running in, crying, about it.

So during the day, when I’d talk to my mom or a friend and the question would come up about what was for dinner, I’d say, “Oh, we’re having roast chicken with cous cous. Stick your head out your front door and listen carefully at 6 to see if you can hear crying from my place. I’m thinking I’ll get at least one person crying.”

But last night? I served chicken quesadillas with a side of black beans and sliced tomato and no one cried. How is this possible? The chicken was sauteed with peppers and onions, and placed into a whole-weat tortilla with some reduced-fat shredded cheese….and all that I heard was, “Oh quesadillas! Yum!” “Black beans? I love black beans!” “This is DELICIOUS.” And then the beastie-like noises of children eating too fast.

What the heck? I’ve lost my touch. Or they’re growing up. Maybe I’ll give escargot in a white wine garlic reduction a try and see what happens. Listen carefully around 6 and see if you can hear anything.

This post is part of Word Up, YO!

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10 Responses to “I need a new challenge.”

  1. liz Says:

    It’s like the quest for the holy grail…and you succeeded in finding it! I can’t believe you aren’t more thrilled.
    liz recently posted..Extreme Makeover- PetSmart Edition

    Alyson says:

    No, it’s great…really….but part of me mourns the loss of my little game. (It is all about me, after all!)

  2. Stacey Says:

    I love this post….so true!!!!!! I get cries when I make spaghetti and meatballs…one wants meatballs and spaghetti with only butter, one wants the spaghetti with sauce but no meatballs, and one wants the meatballs with sauce but no spaghetti…and that I consider a success because I can make the same thing for everyone but just get the right stuff on the plate….if dad is home…they all get everything and have to eat it and they look at me like they certainly hate my guts for making an awful meal!

  3. Grace Says:

    I went to cooking school off and on for 10 years, and you know the only thing I make that everyone’s happy about? Quesadillas. They’re magic.

    I love your “poison, with a side of poison.” I might have to borrow that one sometime.
    Grace recently posted..Who Was That Masked Bandit

  4. KLZ Says:

    I think you would get along fabulously with my mother. More than one night I ate cereal for dinner. Although, in an act of war, I once sat all night at the dinner table because I would rather stay there instead of eat sauerkraut. Still would.
    KLZ recently posted..Shes Got a Ticket to Ride but I dont

  5. Will Says:

    Escargot? Guess who would be the first to cry?

    Alyson says:

    I assume you mean me. And yes, I would. The crying would start at the preparation, and probably not stop until the throwing up stopped….

  6. Lou Says:

    Not me.
    Lou recently posted..Who wants to hear how high school is

  7. Yuliya Says:

    I wish someone would force me to eat escargot, yum!

    I know this post is funny, but seriously how did you deal with the kids not wanting to eat the food? Bargaining? Giving in and becoming a short order cook? Letting them skip dinner?

    Nice to blog hop meet you!
    Yuliya recently posted..Oh So Random

  8. Booyah's Momma Says:

    If you could get your kids to eat escargot… you would be a true wonder woman! But I think maybe you’re on to something… I should fix delicacies that only I will eat, and make them Mac and Cheese for dinner. Then everyone is happy!
    Booyah’s Momma recently posted..Im a sucker for a bargain

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