Extracurricular Dinners

“Why are you giving us this kind of dinner like it Scouts’ Night or something?” said my son last night as I served up a nutritious dinner that clearly didn’t meet his standards.  Given that Boy Scouts was cancelled that night I should have served something that required more time and labor like I did last Monday.  If you tuned in to my blog last week, then you learned that according to him my Monday night tacos are worthy of winning some sort of competition on a reality show and that he would vote for them.  He scarfed three of those down last Monday.  I didn’t make those this Monday (insert sad trombone:  “whaa…whaa…”).


This Monday his reaction to the meal put before him didn’t stop him from eating it.  In fact his plate was crumb free once he was excused and granted a dessert.  This Scouts’ Night-like Dinner consisted of steamed peas, apples, rice, and soy/veggie nuggets.  I know; I know.  Gross.  Bland.  Ick.  I wouldn’t eat it.  Most of the time my picky kids have plain Jane palates, and they unknowingly have been eating those “chicken” nuggets since they were tots.  They’re my one way of successfully sneaking in veggies.


I get his pointed question.  I should have been chopping up a taco night schmorgesbord or in the very least I should have cooked something that he knew would have taken me more effort to prepare like a meat loaf and all the fixings (another meal I often make that he oddly loves), right?  I opted to nuke food, steam it, chop it, toss it on a plate, and say, “Come on, kids, dinner is ready.”  Bad Mommy.


I also opted not to serve him leftover spaghetti, meatballs, and sausage that were our Sunday dinner.  I opted not to serve that nicer meal which required much more effort to cook, because I simply didn’t want the same dinner two nights in a row.  I reserved Sunday’s leftovers for Tuesday as two–three days in the fridge is about all I can dare to save when it comes to leftovers.  This way we enjoy leftover Sunday gravy, pasta and meats on Spaghetti Tuesday.


After my kids inhaled their Scouts’ Night-like Dinner, knowing that my kids wouldn’t eat it I threw together a quiche for dear hubby and I.  I know; I know.  Quiche?  Brunch-like food at 8:00 PM?  You’re most likely thinking, “Geez, this woman really doesn’t know how to cook.  Her poor family.  Tsk.  Tsk.”   Well, hubby worked late, so it made sense to whip up something else for us by the time he arrived.  We enjoyed said quiche and quite a conversation after the kids went to bed. Tasting our food and experiencing warm food is much more of a possibility once the kids go to bed.  Am I right?  Conversation is always easier, much more relaxed, engaged, and enjoyable when the kids go to bed.  Right?  Our conversation was all about this very thing – Scouts’ Night Dinners.  


My son is right.  Those dinners that precede extracurricular activities are rushed, tasteless, and not the least bit worthy of being called “home-style” or “home cooked” for that matter.  The extracurricular activities feel rushed, too, and frankly as a parent they take a lot out of you.  Don’t they?  The running to and fro, attempting to be on time for this and that, the application of shin guards and other protective gear, the untying of knots in the stinking cleats’ laces, the hollering of things like, “Don’t forget your water bottle!” & “Stop drawing butts in the dirt on my windows!” & my favorite: “Come ON, Kids! Get IN! LET’S GO!”


I want my kids to experience things that are of interest to them, and we enroll them in what we can budget for.  I want them to play sports and to lead and respect healthy lifestyles.  I also want them to gain the social ground and confidence building that comes with being part of a team or participating in things that they love.  As a child I didn’t have the opportunities that they have had, and because of that I fear I sometimes overcompensate with my kids.  I was picked on for being pudgy, too, and the fear of them having to go through any of that pubescent bullying crap haunts me daily.  I don’t give them golden eggs or the goose that makes them just because they ask for it, but I do try to give them a chance to try things out and to find their niche so to speak.

I’ve recently tried to be more aware of the crazy thing that is our schedule and to not let it control us.  I want to control the schedule.  I want the schedule to reflect things that make us happy, make us whole, and make us healthy, but with three kids, a needy puppy, and two parents’ with jobs and other engagements of their own our schedule will seemingly forever be one that is grueling in nature.  Our dinners may just have to be Scout Night Dinners from time to time, and I accept that.  I also accept that my son deems the rushed dinners I serve from time to time to be unacceptable.  He’s right.  They’re no good.