When I became pregnant with my first child, I had already spent about four years in classroom settings watching what children ate and how they behaved. I promised that my kids would not be the ones with artificially-colored fake fruit snacks and last night's chicken nuggets in their lunch boxes. I was also troubled by how limited most children's diets were--mostly, items that came from boxes. And I wanted the kids to be able to eat what they were served without having an embarrassing break-down or time-consuming negotiation over the meal. My problem is that in my quest for the kids to eat well and eat a variety of foods, I created a monster. Sometimes, Mommy just wants a burger and fries. Sometimes, jusssst sometimes, I feel the urge to have a pack of pressed-together-chicken nuggets dipped in some fructose-based faux sauce. My children often disapprove of this openly.
"Your step-dad is picking up Taco Bell on the way home since I have had such a long day," I said last week.
"Well, I really don't like Taco Bell. It's not so good for me anyhow," complained my daughter. Snob! This makes feeding the kids during our monthly road trips is extremely tough. While I usually pack an in-car picnic meal with sandwiches, fruits, and veggies, the kids eventually get hungry again. On my last road trip with the kids, we had this conversation:
"We can stop here--here's a McDonald's. Are you hungry for a burger?"
"I don' wike McDonald's bu'gers. Is nasty," pipes up Tiny.
"What about fries?"
"No fwies either!!"
"Seriously? What would you like to eat?"
"Sushi!" state both children. Mind you sushi is a forty dollar meal for three people, and in truck stops and gas stations, sushi isn't a culinary mainstay anyhow. The prepared sushi at the grocery never tastes right to me, so I won't buy it for the road. Plus, these are kids. My kids. I make the rules. "Eat or starve," I'll say. "We have miles to go." Sometimes I can find a Subway or sandwiches from a gas station. I still laugh to myself when my daughter requests salad with a side of fruit at Wendy's, but I am so thankful that she wants this. To be honest, I personally prefer the number one combo with no cheese.
We have our moments--sometimes we have pizza. We enjoy Chinese food on Sunday nights--and God knows what is really in that stuff. My children's biggest weakness is soda, which they can only have once a week at best. And like most children, given total freedom, mine would choose cake for dinner. But when it comes to choosing an entree? Well, let me just quote my eleven year old: "Mom, I'll have the crabcakes with a side of pasta salad, please. And can I have a small garden salad with that?" I suppose I could have worse problems.