“Who hasn’t eaten their dinner!?” I demanded of the kids last night.
Four plates sat on the kitchen bench, each with some level of rejected potatoes, sweet potato, pumpkin and chunks of lamb roast ranging from ‘so well licked it can go straight back into cupboard’ to ‘a fork may have been waved in the general direction of the pumpkin but it clearly missed’.
Which is fine with me.
If the kids chose not to eat their dinner they can wait for breakfast. Plus I get to pick amongst the offerings like a tip bird.
This is in stark contrast to what I grew up with. My father tells a story at having only refused to eat one meal my mother made, and it was back in the sixties.
“It was some sort of fish dish and I didn’t like it,” he’ll say if we ply him with beer and pointed questions. Usually, he’ll be shaking his head at his own folly as he says this. Then his voice will drop with what I assume is shame but might also be dread. “So I pushed the plate away.”
I don’t know what happened that night, but Mum still frowns daggers when it comes up.
All this from a six foot one former footy player and a slither of a woman I outgrew before high school. I suspect she knows where to kick.
“You will eat what is put in front of you,” has always the mealtime mantra from Dad, and I realise now it was uttered in much the same way he’d tell us to put our seatbelts on or stay away from tiger enclosures when we’re drunk – you know, for our own safety.
However, Tracey and I are raising at least one kid who is on the spectrum and, if you want a simple life with pockets of calm and the odd nap, you can’t take the hard line approach with food.
And of course, once you soften your stance for one kid you have to be seen to be fair with the rest because kids are even more keenly aware of a level playing field and unbiased rulings than face painted football supporters at a grand final.
But the one thing I can’t stand is a plate being left untouched. I’d dished up five plates of roast loveliness and one them was still sitting on the dining table with a knife and fork on either side.
Someone was going to pay.
“Everyone! Back in here!” I called out. After fending off the usual cries of ‘why?’ the kitchen filled with little people and I pointed at the offending plate. “Who hasn’t even tried their dinner?”
There were a lot of shrugs.
“It belongs to someone,” I prompted them, using my mocking tone because there’s nothing quite like having the high ground.
“Probably your son,” Tracey called out from somewhere else in the house.
“Right,” I said, looking amongst the slightly confused faces staring up at me. Girl faces, it turned out. “Where is he?”
“At Coop’s place,” Tracey called out again. “Remember? He left this afternoon for a sleepover.” I was about to call out I can’t possibly keep track of everything which happens around here when she went on, “You helped pack his bag.”
On the bright side, I got to have seconds.
“Raising a family on little more than laughs”
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