Monday, July 28, 2008

Hold the Pickle, Hold the Lettuce

Let me start by saying I have never, ever, ordered anything on the side. When I’m at a restaurant, I read what’s listed, make a decisive order, and am generally pleased with how things turn out. I trust a chef to have put together adequate combinations. I am in no way a demanding or picky eater.

So, you can imagine how baffling it seems to me that I cater so much my kids’ picky eating. Yes, I know there are those of you out there who have sushi-eating kids, but I don’t want to hear about it. My kids subsist on air and cheese. My husband and I actually cheered last week when our son ate marinara sauce on his pasta for the first time. This, after almost a decade of noodles with parmesan and butter.

I am not going to bore you with all the details of my kids’ eating, or lack thereof, but I will admit I go to lengths to accommodate the pickiness that my parents would never have stood for. I was at my favorite frozen custard/ sub shop the other day and I found myself paying almost $6 for one sub roll covered with cream cheese for my kids to share.

This stemmed from a tradition that started when they were toddlers. The understanding assistant manager would see us coming, start to slather up a roll for them, and charge me about $1.25. This allowed me to eat my turkey and avocado sub in peace and feel less mortified when I turned around 10 minutes later and ordered them frozen custard as a treat. Anyway, last week I took the kids in for the first time in a very long time. The familiar face behind the counter was gone, and when I requested my unusual “usual,” his replacement looked at me like I had 3 heads. Others were consulted. A crowd gathered. In shame, I plunked down large sums of money. I wondered why I was going to such lengths for these two, when other kids around us were happily chowing down on fries and chicken fingers. A request that seemed cute and semi-reasonable at ages 1 and 3 seemed much less so at 7 and 9. Aargh.

It kind of reminded me of Filet-O-Fish. You see, my dear mom knew I hated ketchup (still do!), but she also knew that as a mom with 3 kids in less than 4 years, she had a lot on her plate. She had an agenda to get us where we needed to go. There were a lot of fast food meals, but absolutely no whining and no substitutions. I was well informed that Burger King’s Slogan “Have it YOUR way, Have it your WAY” meant nothing at McDonalds. My mom simply would not let me order a burger without the ketchup and those tiny little onion chunks. No way. Not an option.

So, for 15 years I ordered the Filet-O-Fish and I didn’t whine about it. I am not sure what she figured would happen had we waited a few extra minutes for a ketchup-less burger, but we never found out. I still do not know.

Now, I’ll probably cheer the first time one of my kids eats a fast food burger. With or without ketchup. With or without a bun. Who knows when that time will come?

I am tired of beating myself up about the way they eat. I think I just need to be patient. I know from patience. When I was 16 McDonalds finally came out with Chicken McNuggets.


The Big Piece of Cake said...

This is like reading my life (but in the future since I currently have the 1-3 year old age group...)

My kids only like cheese. Well - my daughter likes pretty much anything, but she'll stop eating once she sees her brothers looking down their noses at the offending food.

I know that my brother and I were hideously picky, and now he's vegan and I'm - well,I DO eat vegetables now.

And for the record - the Filet O Fish was my fast food meal of choice for years. When I was in high school, my friend Rob would make fun of me and say it's what old ladies order. He's probably right.

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Oh - that last one was from me. For some reason, it defaulted to an inactive blogger account...


holyyogini said...

Hilarious! 16 more years and maybe they will make cream cheese nuggets. Not that the current nuggets are real chicken anyway....

Anonymous said...

And now that old Burger King commercial is stuck in my head. It's so much fun having the same memories. Sorry for all the comments.
Ellen in Minnesota