The dog days of summer are upon us. Time to enjoy the gorgeous weather, grill some burgers and dogs, shuck some corn on the cob, break open a can of Bush’s baked beans (aren’t their commercials with the dog hilarious!) and call it…Dinner!! Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?
Meals this simple were an everyday occurrence growing up in a family of 6 brothers and sisters,. So how in the world did I end up with one kid who doesn’t eat meat and another who won’t touch any sauce remotely chunky and who definitely draws the ‘will-not-eat-this-even-if you-pay-me’ line with any food tainted by an onion in any way, shape or form?
Forget the here’s-how-you-get-your-kids-to-eat-what-you-put-in-front-of-them advice, I’ve heard (and tried) them all for 15 years; I have the ‘I’m a terrible mother’ guilty scars to show for it, but no more! There comes a point where you actually want to have a RELATIONSHIP with your kids as they grow older and leave the nest. Many battles will be fought and won with your kids as you raise them to be fully functioning members of society (preferably before the age of 23) so choose wisely how you want to be remembered.
I’d rather have my kids thank me for teaching them to respect authority, practice the Golden Rule, and internalizing the importance of personal responsibility, integrity and hard-work ethics. That, and I want them to WANT to come visit “Grandma and Grandpa” when they leave the nest, find their mate and have children of their own.
I don’t know about you but I found when I had my own children I suddenly gleaned a new appreciation for my own parents and what I put them through.
“So THAT’S why Mom always told me to wash my hands…eat my vegetables…make my bed…stop pulling my sister’s hair” (Actually I never pulled my sister’s hair, but I did CUT the hair off her favorite Barbie Doll – and no it wasn’t the type of doll where the hair grew back. Don’t know what I was thinking. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Couldn’t understand why my sister was so upset. Oops.)
All this no-eating meat stuff brings me to this summer’s family activity. Mother always said, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
My youngest son Austin and I are writing a Pizza Blog. Each week we are visiting a local pizza place we’ve never been to and “critiquing” their pizza making skills (including the ambiance “experience” and service received.) If a pizza gets Austin’s “Narwhal Seal of Approval” it’s a WINNER!! (If you don’t know what a Narwhal is, feel free to Google it as a fun family activity for you and your child. Hint: It is a creature that lives in the water and has a unicorn-type horn on its head).
Here’s the catch: Austin doesn’t like pizza sauce (I hear you gasping – don’t judge!). So every pizza he orders goes like this: “Um, I’d like a large pizza, half cheese, half pepperoni, with extra cheese…oh, and, uh, no sauce….).
Reactions to his order have varied, and how they react is actually part of the “screening process”! Think about it: Who wouldn’t like eating some “cheesy bread” in the form of fresh dough with lots of cheese on it – how it is baked makes all the difference! Wood-fired tastes different that oven-baked; and the crust factor is absolutely essential (and critical). And fresh ingredients definitely make for a better pie.
Truth be told, it’s not even really about the pizza. The real gift is in the conversations we are having while sharing a pie. Because more than any slice of pizza we discover, Austin and I are making memories together. Life lessons are shared.
In the past month we have had in-depth conversations about the meaning of life (Austin’s conclusion: in the end, all anybody really wants is to be loved – yes I’m a proud Mama that my 17-year old came up with this), talked about the pros and cons of Obamacare and the upcoming election, what college life will be like, friendship ‘what would you do in this situation, Mom’ scenarios and Pokemon. The moments are priceless. And this is what we will remember in years to come. I may not have text-book perfect children but so what.
The true meaning of motherhood is loving your children exactly where they are; accepting them for who the good Lord created them to be, whether they eat steak and broccoli or their idea of a vegetable is French fries thinly sliced. After all, that’s what vitamin pills are for.
As for me, bon appetite. Bring on the onions and chunky sauce. And the all-important “Conversation” main course.