Chicken is one of the surefire things all three kids will eat. Baked, grilled or nuggeted, it’s a relatively easy way to get some protein into them. Apparently, however, I’ve relied on it a bit too much lately.
"Mom, what’re we having for dinner?” It’s a seemingly innocent question, but it’s fraught with peril. If I don’t play this right, it could make the Inquisition look like a pop quiz.
“We’re having chicken,” I say, as evenly as I can.
“Yay!” says Timmy.
“Yummy!” says Brian.
“I’m sick of chicken!” complains Abby.
Chicken is one of the surefire things all three kids will eat. Baked, grilled or nuggeted, it’s a relatively easy way to get some protein into them. Apparently, however, I’ve relied on it a bit too much lately. Abby wants a change.
“Well, Abby, what would you like for dinner?” I ask. Maybe I can interest her in helping me cook, and she’ll be so invested in the final product that she’ll eat it.
“I don’t know…” she starts. Then, brightening: “Steak on the grill!”
I look out the window. It’s pouring rain, and I think anything on the barbie would be more fizzle than sizzle.
“Too wet out,” I say.
“Pizza?” she tries.
The last time I called for delivery, the pizza never came. I have a Boboli in the freezer, but it’s earmarked for tomorrow night, as an easy dinner for the kids when Earl and I go on our long-awaited dinner date.
“How about pasta?” I venture.
“We had that two nights ago,” Abby reminds me.
“I know,” interjects Brian. “Breakfast for dinner!”
When I was a kid, my mom would sometimes make pancakes for dinner when my dad worked late. I used to hope he’d do it every week, just for the treat of sweet comfort food in the evening. I peek into the refrigerator, considering Brian’s suggestion.
“Bad news,” I say. “No eggs.”
“Awww, man,” Brian says.
Timmy pops his thumb out of his mouth. “Mac and cheese,” he pronounces.
Blech, I think. “That’s more of a lunch food,” I say.
“We don’t have anything good to eat,” Abby whines.
“You need to go shopping,” Brian admonishes.
“Look, kids,” I say. “We have plenty of food. I’m going to make chicken, just like I planned. We’ll have rice and veggies, too. Don’t worry. There will be something on your plate you like.”
Quickly, I throw the chicken breasts in the oven and start the rice. I nuke the carrots and steam the green beans, leaving some of each uncooked for the boys, who like their vegetables raw. Forty-five minutes later, there’s a relatively balanced meal on the dining-room table. The kids are doing a pretty good job with it, too, although Abby’s not eating much of her chicken.
Earl arrives, having been stuck in traffic for an hour. He’s still in the kitchen when he asks, “What’s for dinner, kids?”
“Chicken!” Brian says.
Find Patriot Ledger writer Julie Fay's page on Facebook at www.tinyurl.com/juliefay.