Yesterday, we were trying to use up leftovers, so I served salmon filets for dinner to go with leftover couscous & yogurt sauce (for Anders & I) and leftover noodles (for the kids) and apparently I'm serving salmon way too often because BOTH kids, despite liking salmon, turned up their noses completely. Karin ate hers with a side serving of moaning and groaning, but Martin took tinier-than-ever mousebites and basically pushed his noodles around on the plate until they were hard and dry and completely inedible, at which point I lost my temper and walked out of the room so I wouldn't yell at him again to just frickin' EAT IT ALREADY, and then Anders lost his as well. Martin got sent to his room and slammed his door on the way in.
Around this point, my mom called so I vented on her for a bit, and told her we were at our last straw with him and did she have any advice? Not surprisingly, she did. Maybe the kids are bored with the food we are serving? Maybe they're not invested in what's for dinner? I started and suddenly realized she had a very good point. We've, or at least, I've fallen into the trap of serving fast and easy meals for the family that consist of the same things week after week, and to top it off, we often serve the kids something simpler when we think they won't eat or appreciate whatever it is we're making. Both things that I've said in the past I didn't want to do, but after listening meal after to meal to complaints and groaning and whining about EWWWWW I won't eat this, EWWWWWWW this is gross, one tends to give up and take the easy way out.
About an hour later, I decided to beard the lion in his den, so I went to talk to Martin. He had put a note on his door that said DO NOT ENTER WITHOUT ASKING, so I knocked politely and begged admittance. He had changed into pajamas, turned off the lights and climbed into bed. So I, rather reluctantly, climbed up into the loft bed with him. We had a good talk about the problem, and I hope he saw my point, and I certainly saw his...well, at least most of it.
Would it help if we tried meal-planning for the week? I asked. Yes, he thought it would. Would he and Karin be willing to help choose the meals and be prepared to eat them, no matter what? Yes, again, he thought they would. (Karin was at the store with Anders or she would have been included in the conversation) We climbed down out of the bed, and I asked Martin to write a list of meals (not sushi or eating-out meals) that he actually LIKED and would be happier about eating. When Karin came home she checked the ones she agreed with and added some of her own.
We discussed the fact that sometimes they would get meals, like now, that they might not appreciate as much, and that it would help the family as a unit if they would try to not complain on those occasions, and try new things and eat those meals in return for being able to steer more of the menus on a weekly basis to choices they prefer. Not surprisingly, many of the choices on both kids' lists consisted of kid-friendly meals that I'm not particularly fond of: hot dogs, pizza, tacos, hamburgers. But there were lots of ideas that we wrote down that we don't eat very often that will make a welcome change for all of us: lasagna, tuna casserole, fondue, beef stroganoff, cornish pasty, sloppy joes, fishburgers, quiche, curry dishes, more potatoes & less rice and pasta.
At least now we have a good long list of meal menus to work with and a plan to put into action. And tonight, we're having homemade pizza.