Monday, November 12, 2007

Wanted: Kids Who Don't Need Food

I have to admit, out of all the responsibilities of parenthood, the one I loathe most is feeding my children. In fact, parenting could be a much more enjoyable experience if kids were more like pets and you could place a bowl of food and water on the floor (okay, fine, the table) and let them do their thing. In fact, that’s one of the best features of my $707 cat.

I do not understand how we can live in a society that has a working space station, has mapped the human genome, has figured out how to power vehicles using corn, not to mention has created an electronic device roughly the size of a credit card that can be a phone, computer, ipod, photo album, and wireless internet, but no one—no one—has invented a way to only feed the children once a day (weekly would be even better). They make these things for plants for heaven’s sake, why not people? Perhaps a slowly dissolving stick you can jam in a kid’s ear that is activated every time they shower. It could deliver all the essential nutrients a growing kid needs, and possibly even come in a variety of smells. Willy Wonka had a prototype, why isn’t R&D on this?

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want the little darlings to starve. But there has to be an easier way to get the job done than actually cutting, assembling, preparing, cooking, and locating food for them seventeen times a day. And be honest, that’s about how often they eat. Breakfast cereal has to be the closest thing to a perfect food. It’s fortified with essential vitamins and minerals. That cup of milk takes care of bones and teeth. And most times, the cereal comes with a toy. A 17.5 oz slice of heaven. As long as I have a bit of milk and a box of cereal, we are okay.

Not that the kids always feel this way. One particularly harrowing evening two years ago, the kids were hungry. Loudly whining, moaning, complaining. It had been a long day teaching 8th graders and my husband was working in Russia. The house was trashed, I was exhausted and it was already 6:30 with no meal in sight. I decided we were going to have cereal for dinner. I set the table. Three bowls, three spoons, one box of Chex, and…
No milk.
No milk, no milk, no milk.
No bread, no peanut butter. No juice, no eggs, no cheese.
One soft, wrinkled apple. One slice of shiny, rainbow lunch meat. A can of beer. Food poisoning and under-age alcohol consumption do not a dinner make.

The thought of loading up my (then) four and six year old, going to the very large supermarket to buy one pathetic gallon of milk at 6:30 at night made me want to vomit. What’s a desperate mom to do?
I called my grandma.

Yes, my motherhood had reached new lows, since what able-bodied, educated, mid-30’s mother calls her 70+ years-old grandma to rescue her from grocery nightmare? Especially when that grocery store was in fact, closer than grandmother’s house?
I know. Bear with me.

So I call grandma, who happens to not only have regular milk, but also soy milk (grandmas are always prepared) since my daughter has dairy allergies (another reason I hate feeding children). Grandma drives the four blocks to my house with two recycled jam jars of assorted milks. I thank her from behind tears. She leaves.
Kids are still loudly whining, moaning and complaining. My head is about ready to spin in circles.
I yell at the kids that food has arrived. WE ARE GOING TO EAT NOW! I announce.
They make their way to the table as I not-so-gently set the jars of milk down. (Kids are soooo needy these days).
As I’m pouring the cereal into the bowls and angrily sliding the spoons across the table at my son and daughter, their eyes are wide and glistening with sadness. (Guilt is just what I need at the moment.)
“WHAT?” I say a bit loudly. “WHAT IS WRONG NOW?”
I don’t like tonight,” my son whimpers as he tries to eat his Chex. “It feels like we are homeless or something.”
I cackle. Laugh-out-loud-witch-cackle. Homeless? He feels like he’s homeless? I’ll show him homeless
“EAT YOUR CEREAL!” I announce.

It’s been two years since this event, but I’m pretty sure it’s alive and well in my kid’s psyche. If they had an easy-melt dinner tongue-strip, (like I’ve suggested) this whole scene could have been avoided.


beebee said...

Yeah. What is it with kids and food anyway? Are your kids like mine...Constantly hungry but not wanting to eat ANYTHING except McDonald's junk. Awesome. So here I go, eternally searching for palatable, vitamin-enriched foods that my girls will actually consume. This of course takes hours of preparation (think internet and cookbook searches, grocery store trips, and actual kitchen time); only to be met with, "I don't like this." (Can you hear the whine?)

I could just vomit in frustration.

rachel said...

I LOVE it when you spend a couple hours making those great recipes from the internet, and the only thing they eat is the bread you served on the side. Then...
"What's for dessert?"

beebee said...

Oh. Yeah. They always expect dessert. Even if they've eaten NOTHING. That's nice too.