Column: What's For Dinner?
Getting dinner on the table each night can be a challenge.
It’s been nearly one year since the Kathy’s Chaos column began. Let’s be clear, the chaos in my life began way before this column; however, it’s been a year since I began writing about it. Thank you for tuning in each week to hear about my struggles with parenting. I appreciate your attention.
When I looked back on all the topics I have written about, I was surprised that I had yet to discuss how hard it is to get dinner on the table each night.
Preparing dinner for my household is never an easy task. The older the kids get, the more activities they are in. The crazy weekday schedule that results makes it a feat of astronomical proportions to plan and prepare a nutritious meal each night. As a last resort, I count pancakes as a nutritious dinner. Milk + eggs = calcium + protein ... A perfectly balanced equation!
Right now, we are actually in between sports seasons – basketball has just about ended and the spring stuff isn’t in full swing yet. So maybe I will have a week or so of dinnertime normalcy before the crazy schedule kicks in again.
One night last week, when we were still juggling three basketball team schedules among other things, I had actually thought ahead about what I would make for dinner. I had a slim window of opportunity to make it all come together. I needed to feed everyone dinner by 5 p.m. so that their food could digest enough so that they wouldn’t be throwing up as they ran up and down the basketball court for their 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. basketball games.
I prepped for breading some fish filets. I was trying to hurry before any of my kids saw me and asked to help. Is that terrible? How are they supposed to learn to cook for themselves if I squirrel away in the kitchen not willing to pass on my culinary skills, which though limited and somewhat boring, are not really too terrible.
All the ingredients were out and in walks my middle daughter. Darn it, I was so close.
“Oooh! What are we making?”
We are not making anything. I am making dinner… we are under a time constraint here!
“What can I do?”
At this point, it would have been so easy to say, “I’ve got it” or “Go watch
TV.” But right from day one this one loved to cook and bake.
“Go wash your hands.”
She began breading the fish. I was getting fidgety watching the clock as our dinner's window of opportunity was ticking away. As she finished the last piece, my son walked in from playing outside.
"Can I help?”
I sighed again.
“Go wash your hands.”
He cut up the lettuce for the salad and set the table.
So dinner was served a little later than I had planned with a little help from the built-in workforce who lives in my house. I should use them more often. Given the chance, they are actually helpful.
It would have been a lot easier to shoo them out of the kitchen and do it myself. But the more practice I give them, the better they get. The more self-sufficient they become. The more they grow up a little. And sadly, the less they need me.
In case you were wondering, thankfully no one puked on the basketball court.
About this column: Kathy Yevchak is a mother of three and the author of two children's books. She also works part-time in corporate writing and training.