Notes from Mother’s Journal: Low Expectations Edition

The other day, when I was lying around feeling sick, I kept dwelling on issues with the kids. Isn’t that always the way. You have 0 energy and 0 ability to implement any changes let alone think of some but your brain focuses on some huge, stupid problem.

“My kids don’t eat well enough.” I used my last two functioning brain cells to think this thought. Seriously.

It’s true. They have fairly bland diets. They do always eat whole wheat bread with organic peanut butter but they eat it every day. Here are the vegetables they eat:

Trombone: Potatoes if they are oven fries. Ketchup.
Fresco: Potatoes if they are oven fries. Ketchup. Corn.
(They’re better with fruit. Fresco has never met a fruit he didn’t like and Trombone is a steady eddie with apples and grapes and the occasional banana or strawberry.)

Yes. I know. It’s shocking. That’s what I was thinking too. You can only let that whole “oh they’re picky toddlers” thing go so far, right? Like, not till age 15.

“OK Self,” I said, “fix this.” And then I went to sleep for another 12 hours.

When I woke up Saturday morning I felt like I had been hatched from a brand new egg. I felt awesome. AWESOME! SA, true to his weekly word, took the kids out, and I set to thinking.

“Meal plans,” I muttered, “family meals. Family eating. That’s the answer. We all eat together. We all eat the same thing.”

We eat all scattered, you see, because the kids have always gone to bed early (7:30 at the latest) and SA has always come home from work late (6:00 at the earliest). Lately – since the summer, maybe? I have been trying to get supper ready so that we can eat together, right when SA gets home, but of course the kids are trained to eat their “own” meal and they still just want to eat cereal and more cereal and oh my god could you possibly eat any more cereal than you already eat? We just bought 2kg of oat circles and I am already afraid we will run out.

Part of the problem, too, is that I tend to cook meals that are…melting pots? Stews, chilis, spaghetti sauces with vegetables, burritos, curries. Things that adults find tasty and comforting and that children (over the age of 2, this is; both my kids ate the hell out of all those foods when they were between 1 – 2) find scary because WHAT IS THAT? I can’t tell. It is twelve different colours and textures and I want cereal.

Once a week I make pizza and we are all ecstatic about it.

I had a brilliant idea.

Note: it is a brilliant idea. I have no idea if it will WORK and then be a brilliantly successful idea.

1. We will have a daily supper plan. It will involve identifiable parts: meat, starch, vegetable.
2. The kids will help with the daily supper plan
3. I will cut out pictures of food from magazines and purchase a sheet of poster board
4. We will, together, choose the foods we are going to eat and affix those foods to the poster board
5. They will help me cook. I am hoping this will also result in them not going completely batshit every night at 5 pm when I am trying to cook. Everyone says kids will more likely eat what they cook but look, here they are helping me make potato latkes the other night:

Did they like helping? Oh yes! Did they eat them? No way. (did they *try* them? yes.)

6. somethingsomethingsomethingprobablysomehairpullingsomethingsomething
7. The kids will eat balanced diets!

I bought the poster board and some of that sticky tacky stuff that you can use to put up posters. I went to the farmers market and bought vegetables and other foods. I came home to cut up magazines.

I have had a stack of magazines in my house for years. Doesn’t everyone have a stack of magazines in their house? And you think, someday I will throw these out, but not yet. Every time you read an online article about de-cluttering you find the stack and flip through the magazines and you think, yeah, these could go, but maybe I’ll make a collage of my hopes and dreams. Maybe I’ll want to read that article about the New Mrs. Trudeau again. Maybe I’ll want, oh, I don’t know, 50 pictures of FOOD SO MY KIDS WON’T DIE OF SCURVY.

So you save them.

And save them.

And then one day, you recycle them.

And three weeks later you need them.


So I cut up a Safeway flyer but that wasn’t really enough. And the kids, when I told them about the plan, were excited, but there is a sale on cake at Safeway this week and all they want for supper, all week, is cake.

The lovely Megan offered to mail me HER stack of magazines but a) that’s a lot of postage and b) if she mails them to me, then she will need them, like, TOMORROW and this is kind of like paying it backward, don’t you think?

I looked at brand new magazines at Costco yesterday and some of them were $7.99! For 140 chicken recipes! Sorry! Not gonna happen!

This morning after my cup of coffee I had another brainstorm. Value Village! So Fresco and I dropped Trombone and school and went to Value Village, where magazines cost $0.99 each, as god intended. I picked out a few and Fresco suddenly attached to one that had little lemon cheesecakes on the cover. And by attached I mean he carried it with him all over the store and then in the car and then wanted to take it with him for his nap but I said no. Total for 6 magazines: $6

You can’t just go to Value Village and get some magazines and leave (what? you can?) so we went to the back of the store to look at the toys and then Fresco said, “Mummy we need snowpants,” and I was going to say, “no you don’t,” when I realized that yes in fact they do, and lo! there were snowpants size 4 and lo! snowpants size 3 so I bought them. Thank you.

When we got home from school, Trombone said, as he says every day, “What did you do while I was at school?” and I resisted the urge to say, “we partied! HARD!” and told him I bought him some snowpants and he almost cried with happiness. I have no idea why. The forecast is calling for some snow tomorrow and we also have a tobogganing pass we have to use this season so we have plans to go up the mountain at some point, but really? Snowpants? Both boys tried on their snowpants and then left them on all through lunch.

And that, my friends, is why you should keep expectations nice and low for your children. Snowpants and a second-hand magazine and they won’t be bothering me for days. Bonus points: I can hear them coming. (rustle. rustle.)

But will they eat their vegetables?

Look at those faces. What do you think?

(yes, that is the magazine on Fresco’s lap. The lemon cheesecakes do look really good.)

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