Poison for All

I reach home before my wife three days a week. On these three days, I make dinner for my family. As I have mentioned before, I am not a cook but a preparer. I can defrost, boil, and throw food into the oven with the best of them. In addition, my use of kitchen utensils ends at the strainer. So, yes, I keep it simple.

My children are particular eaters (I know many of you are shaking your head thinking, “I know just what you mean, buddy”). They have a few foods that they like to eat (luckily, they enjoy fruit) and are content as long as we stick to their tastes. Fortunately, their limited tastes match up with my limited skills. This symbiotic relationship is probably not a coincidence.

Tonight was one of my nights to prepare dinner. I decided to make eggs. Both boys like eggs, and they are always happy to eat them. Before BR went off to karate, I told him we would be having eggs for dinner tonight. He requested I put bacon bits in the eggs. He would put bacon bits in just about every food, so his request was not a surprise. For SJ, however, bacon bits have not secured a place in his limted diet. I had three options: make two helpings – one with bacon bits and one without, deny BR’s request, or take my chance that SJ would adjust. I decided to go with option number three, hoping I could sneak the little red flakes past my fussy eater.

When BR took his plate, he said, “Hey where are the bacon bits?”

“They’re in there. Just don’t tell SJ, or he won’t eat them.”

“Oh yeah, there they are. Okay.”

SJ had taken his plate first. He started with his bagel. With the bagel eaten, he was on to his eggs (why he can’t eat two things at once is beyond me, and I leave it as one of the great unanswered questions). He finished his first bite of eggs while watching Spongebob and said nothing. Bless that yellow sea creature. With his helpful distraction, SJ was becoming flexible.

Then, the serenity was broken. “Hey what are these red things?”

I tried to ignore him.

“What are they?” he repeated.

“It’s nothing. Just eat em.”

“What is it?”

“It’s poison. You have some, BR has some, mom will have some, and I have some.”

And we will all go down together.

“He’s kidding. You’re kidding daddy. Daddy’s kidding.” BR was convinced.

“No, I’m not. Now, just eat. Look, I’m eating.”

A moment passed and SJ informed me, “I don’t like poison.”

Uggh, sigh. I told you my kids were picky.



Tradition! (Writer’s Note – that first word should have been sung out – even if only in your head – akin to Fiddler on the Roof.  As it will reappear, make sure to follow this instruction as it will enhance your enjoyment of this post.  Thank you – the writer). We all have traditions weather the topic is family, food, entertainment, holidays, or singing out 1111 when it is 11:11. Something has taken on enhanced meaning because we have done it before and get some comfort or joy from the act. The behavior has become a tradition.

Today is Friday – (blog and calendar all for one low, low price), and I recently started a tradition. By the way, generally when I think of a tradition, I conjure something that’s been going on for years. The picture is black and white and grainy and includes people who are no longer young. Well, traditions have to start sometime. This tradition is a personal – not shared. The reason I bring this up today is because I am in a quandary: Do I let the tradition go by the wayside, or do I continue it?

I loooove chocolate! Now, it is not the only food I am passionate about, (pizza and peanut butter quickly spring to mind) but it truly holds a special place in my heart.  I am nearly convinced that chocolate can solve most problems – warm, cold, tired, or sad. Chocolate can do it all! It comes in so many different forms.  Magical stuff that chocolate is.

Now back to my tradition. The past few months I have taken to buying a chocolate bar for my ride home from work on Friday. I buy it before the first leg of my journey. The chocolate bar – Kit Kat, Peanut M&M, Snickers, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups Hershey’s Chocolate bar – whatever (I’m flexible – any will do) accompanies me on my 35 minute train ride, walk through NY Port Authority, and on to the 164 bus. As I near the end of my bus ride, I take out my chocolate bar and eat it slowly, savoring each bite. It is my good bye to the week’s stresses, and my hello to the weekend. It is divine.

Now, school is over. Summer is not so stressful, and I don’t take the bus and train. Do I need the chocolate? This morning while food shopping, I decided. I will be having my candy bar later today. The tradition must live on through the summer. Tradition!

Add Chocolate

These days it seems flexibility is a trait that is admired. I don’t mean the type of flexibility a dancer displays which by the way, is completely not me.  I mean flexibility in that these are challenging times and you have to go with the flow sort of flexibility. You need something – I’m your man. Everyone has to be willing to try and take one for the team sort of stuff.

My younger son recently turned 5. Like any child, or adult for that matter, he has his quirks. He is chunky – came out of the womb over 9 pounds, 90+ percentile on the growth charts, and doesn’t believe in the concept of brunch. Two meals, thank you very much.  He eats about five foods (only a slight exaggeration) and it only gets to that number if you count a bagel and cheese and a pizza bagel as two different foods.  Oddly enough though, he is not particularly fond of sweets.

My son has shown some affinity for cooking – likes to stir the ingredients, crack eggs, take things in and out of the microwave, etc.  He also likes to be the first to get the food.  Recently, my son has taken to making chocolate milk for various family members though he is not especially into the drink himself.   You may be wondering why he is making it then.  Well, I don’t really know, but I have a theory.  I think he is perfecting his technique for a higher calling.  He seems to have developed a crush or at least a strong liking towards his babysitter.  In fact, my mother noted how often he spoke of the babysitter this weekend.  He was excited to see her on Monday and wanted to make her chocolate milk.  When I asked him if he liked the babysitter, he said “She’s cute.” He also noted how they had a waffle party together, and he made chocolate milk. 

So, maybe my son’s interest in the babysitter will help him to expand his diet. Today it’s chocolate milk which he might actually start drinking, and from there, who knows?  His list of foods might soon pass his age putting him on the path toward flexibility.

Daddy Dinner

I believe that there are different types of patience that are required for different situations. Waiting in line at the grocery story, waiting for the computer to bring up a website, and waiting for the cable guy all require patience. Each of us has patience for at least some things and maybe even have an area in which we are particularly patient. My wife, for example, is extremely patient when it comes to on-line shopping. She’ll surf the web for hours looking for just the right product at a price she is willing to pay. My shelf life is 15 minutes – on a good day.  On the other hand I can read a book for hours, while it took my wife longer to read her last book than it took the author to write it.

My wife works in the city three days a week. It is an arrangement she has had since she returned from maternity leave after our first child was born.  Those days she works in the city, she gets home late, so I, who am home early, am responsible for preparing dinner for my family.   Grunt, grunt, hunt and gather, must feed family.   I do not and never have had cooking patience.  I’ll let the water boil, wait for the fries to grow crispy, and even cook the eggs at a low temperature as someone once told me this enhances the taste.  However, I never make anything that takes more than a few minutes to prepare.  Lucky for me, my children have simple tastes. So, in this case, we are on the same exact level. Hello Benjamin Button. See, there are only a few foods – hot dogs, eggs, noodles, French toast, and pizza bagels – I can pretty much guarantee both will eat on a regular basis.  A small sample, yes, but it makes it easy to figure out what to make and, even better little time is needed to prepare.

So, my children’s appetites and my limited cooking patience have a symbiotic relationship.  Now, we need to work on staying in our own beds every night. I am not a patient middle-of-the-night guy.