“I’m making eggs and hash browns for dinner for me and Daddy,” I said to my 10-year-old son as he read his book. “What do you want?” Ryan doesn’t eat eggs. He’s never tried eggs. If they aren’t cracked and beaten into a chocolate cake, he’s not interested. Hash browns either. He eats French fries, tater tots, and potato latkes. But not hash browns.
“I’ll have a latke and hot dogs on a stick, please,” he replied.
Off to the kitchen I went to preheat the oven for his latke (he likes it crispy) and hot dogs on a stick (he primarily eats the outside part).
This isn’t how I had envisioned dinner prep. Becoming a mother would not mean becoming a short-order cook. We would all eat the same meal, just as my husband and I had done in our families when we were growing up. But Ryan has his own idea of what he will and won’t eat. Carrots and cucumbers on a daily basis? No problem. A sandwich? No way. Plain, alphabet-shaped noodles? Yes, please. Plain spaghetti? No, thank you.
However, since Ryan was an infant, family dinner time has also been a special time. No phones unless my parents or husband (who sometimes works late shifts) call. We light candles. We use linen napkins. We play music—Sade and Michael Buble are in frequent rotation. We talk about our days, books, and movies. Ryan sets the table and helps clear it at the end of the meal. He says please when asking for more milk and thank you when I surprise him with fresh baked cookies for dessert.
Ryan has taught me that an enjoyable family dinner time isn’t just determined by the foods on each of our plates.