Friday, 14 August 2020

Why I hate cooking dinner

I actually like cooking. I'm not one of those, oh I don't do cooking, I can't even boil an egg, ha ha ha, type people. Because cooking isn't that hard, you just have to follow instructions.

I think those people don't do cooking because cooking for other people is a giant pain in the arse. And cooking night after night for children, is an even more giant pain in the arse.


I dropped the ball on food discipline when the twins were about two 

It was motherhood triage: keeping bedlam at bay when the kids were very small seemed a more important priority than forcing kids to eat what they were given.

As a result, I have now created a rod for my own back and none of my kids eat the same thing at the same time.

Max eats boscaiola but hold the mushrooms.

Alex eats boscaiola but hold the bacon.

Henry doesn't eat boscaiola at all and would prefer fish fingers, please. 

Cooking dinner is a dark cloud that gathers on my horizon every day at about 4pm


And if I don't get something started by 5:30 at the latest, the whole evening turns to crap.

At about 4:30 my children start making small, squeaky noises about being hungry. The noises escalate to full scale squawks by 5pm.


By 5:30pm they start a three-pronged pincer attack like gathering triffids


They corner me from all directions: across the bench, between the pantry and the cutlery drawer, sometimes they even pop up at the window to the side passage.

They descend on the kitchen making whiny noises and clutching their stomachs as though they are actually starving to death.

By 5.45pm I'm simultaneously lobbing snacks at them with one hand, stirring something in a pan at the stove with my other and kicking them away with my left foot. I am painfully aware at this point that I am trapped in  a vicious vortex of mixed messages: "Don't spoil your dinner but here, have a biscuit, get out of the kitchen and leave me alone so I can get dinner ready."

By 5.55pm I'm okaying all sorts of crazy suggestions like: "Can I have an ice block? Can I have just one piece of chocolate? Can I have a honey sandwich ..." just to get some peace.

By 5.58pm the deal becomes, "Have whatever you want as long as I don't have to get it for you."

At 6.10pm I announce that dinner is ready



At 6.12pm I again, announce, a little louder this time, that dinner is ready.


 At 6.15pm I shout in my best fishwife voice, "TURN OFF THE TELEVISION AND COME TO THE TABLE! I MEAN TURN IT OFF, DON'T JUST PAUSE  IT!"

 (Because sometimes they pause the TIVO and then 10 minutes later as we are settling in to dinner, the ubiquitous sound of Bart Simpson comes back to haunt us from the living room.)

At 6.20pm we all sit down at the table.

This is nice, I like this bit. Sometimes they fight to tell me their best story for the day. A lot of the time the twins fight over who gets to tell the punchline to the story, so they make a deal, one will give the set up, the other gets the punch line. I love this bit. On a really good day,  Max will break out an excellent  impersonation of his crazy French teacher.


By 6.26pm deals are being struck around how much on the plate needs to be eaten to get dessert


I hate this bit.

"Two pieces of broccoli and one piece of chicken?"

"How about two pieces of chicken and just the top bit of the broccoli."

"How about everything on THIS side of the plate ...?"

At 6.28pm I shout:


"It's dinner, not an endurance test! Savour it and enjoy it!"

At 6.29, they are all asking to leave the table.

At 6:30 I am scraping most of what I cooked into the bin.

6:31 clean up the kitchen.

At 6:35 they all start brokering their dessert deals.  (Two pieces of chocolate and one scoop of ice cream? Four pieces of chocolate and no ice cream?)

More bowls, more cutlery, more mess.

This is why I hate cooking dinner.

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