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The macaroni and cheese holy wars

Submitted by on Thursday, 19 March 2009 3 Comments

img_2014I love to cook. I do not love making six meals a day.

I don’t mind at all spending money on quality ingredients for dishes. I hate like heck throwing away food.

For years, the guys have made me crazy on both those points. I know: It’s my fault on two levels. First for letting them turn me into a short-order cook and second for letting it make me crazy. If I’m going to be a wimp, I need to at least not get mad about it.

A few weeks ago, though, I hit my last “enough is enough” point. Inspired by a series of tweets that were reinforced by the same online friend’s writings about improving your children’s behavior, I steeled my backbone and resolved to stop.

Yes, guys, we’re going to do it this time. No really, I mean it.

They didn’t believe me either.

Big Guy gave me the first opening when he decided the hamburger he’d begged for at a baseball game was “icky.” It had turned to “yucky” by snack time a few hours later and “gross” by dinner. Funny but just two days earlier he’d loved hamburgers. Methinks he might be playing me.

For another 24 hours, he balked at the burger. He’d eat whatever side dish was served but stubbornly hold out on the entree, hoping it would disappear by the next meal. It never did, and eventually he decided to eat it.

That evening, macaroni and cheese was the main dish for dinner. Both guys gobbled it.

When it came time for lunch the next day – lunch usually is leftovers -  Boots decided to have issues.

“I hate macaroni and cheese!”

Oh, great. We’ve skipped “I don’t like” and gone straight to “hate.” Could “disgusting” be too far down the road?

“It’s disgusting.” Ah, there we go! Game on.

I shrugged. “That’s what we’re having for lunch. If you don’t want it now, I’ll save it for your snack.”

He tried a variation at snack time. “Can I have more cheeses on it?”

Sure, I said, adding leftover sauce.

Ewww! I don’t like that. Take it off.”

Another shrug. “That’s what you asked for. If you don’t want it now, I’ll save it for your dinner.”

“You might as well just eat it,” Big Guy advised. “This is going to be just like that hamburger.”

And so it was for an astounding six days.

Boots would eat his bland Cheerio breakfast while his brother gobbled mupcakes. He had a stare-down with the mac and cheese at dinner as Big Guy ate chicken and rice. That one was tough for Boots – he loves rice. He continued to scarf the fruits and vegetables on the side but reject the main event.

“It’s disgusting!”

Maybe that’s what you think today, but you’ve never had any problem eating it before, I thought. You’re going to eat it if I have to send the container with you when you leave for college. If I have to call the folks who froze Ted Williams and see if they process pasta as well.

On Day Six, mac and cheese was threatening to take over our lives. Boots begged for candy all morning and Big Guy taunted him. “You could have it if you’d eat your good food.”

The end finally came at lunch time as I finished frosting cupcakes for a birthday party that afternoon. Big Guy asked for one, and I obliged. I answered Boots before he could ask. “After you eat your good food.”

Apparently the icing was more than he could stand. He finally picked up the fork, raised it tentatively and made a “you’re trying to poison me” face. He chewed and smiled.

“This isn’t disgusting,” he said. “This is good.”


Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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  • Vanilla Cokehead said:

    I’ve gotten to the point that I tell my two kids, “that’s your dinner. you don’t eat it, you don’t get a bedtime snack.” Of course, on a regular basis, my “bad cop” gets “good copped”. :~

  • Debra said:

    He he he. The “good cop” is out of town right now, so the bad cop is the only sheriff in town. The little outlaws have to deal with me.

  • Kevin Duffy said:

    Dear Debra,

    Thoughts from the old school. You remember growing up where we did! Remember, there were no pizzas to have delivered, no Mickey Ds until we were 16 – 17 yo, etc. Pizza was called “Jeno’s” and it was ingredients in a box. You made the dough (or your mom made the dough), and you opened can of sauce, spread it on, then sprinkled cheese from a can that came with the box. Then you baked it. Now, if you had an older and hungry brother (I did), then there were at least two of you competing for the same food. Why is this relevant? It is relevant because my “little guy” (he has a big sister) had this problem with not eating his food or taking forever to eat it. This drove me crazy! I thought about this for quite some time — more than a day or two — trying to think of why this was. When I was a kid, we devoured what we could get to eat. Heck, I learned to love the sour, pale yellow grapefruit juice because my brother hated it and he always drank all the orange juice — when we had either. I digress for a reason; I finally realized that my “little guy” had no competition for food — there was/is plenty to go around and neither he nor his sister have ever stabbed the other with a fork over the last piece of rather icky Jeno’s pizza. So, what did I do to resolve this “problem.” My “little guy” and I were on a day trip to visit my grandfather. We stopped at McDonald’s in Summersville and he ordered McNuggets and a hamburger (plain). I ordered a Big Mac and a Quarter Pounder with everything. I had eaten all my food and he was still on the first chicken McNugget — AHHHH! This made me crazy and then the epiphany — no competition for food, so why eat all of it or eat it in a timely fashion, etc. My solution: What you don’t eat, Dad eats. That is the rule now and my “little guy” learned really quickly that I can eat a lot (at least compared to a 5 yo). It works for me, but maybe out in California, as refined as you folks have become, such behavior from an adult may send the “wrong message.” The message I sent (and intended to send) is that there are a finite number or resources (in this case — McNuggets) and if you don’t eat them, then someone else will take them from you — and if my “little guy” were around the kitchen table when I was his age he may have learned to stab “big guy” in his hand with a fork.

    Love Ya!