so, i’m a part-time part-parent to three kids these days.

my boyfriend, Brad, has three kids who are 10-, 8- and 6-years-old, who live with us for a certain percentage of each week.  while i never set out to be anyone’s parental figure, i always kind of thought i’d make a pretty okay step-mom, if i ever were to meet a man who had already procreated.  Brad and the kids, luckily, seem to agree, for the most part.

most of the time, it’s a pretty fun adventure. i got to skip diapers and they can all feed, dress and bathe themselves (with enough cajoling).  they can communicate in mostly-full sentences and they can comply with most simple directions without assistance (with enough cajoling).  i feel like this was a pretty great age to start a family — not my age, i think i’m way too old to suddenly have kids, honestly; but, their age.  they’re fun and mostly autonomous (with enough cajoling).  it’s kinda cool and takes a lot of the pressure off.

but, what i just can’t get my head around is food.  trying to feed these three kids is a Herculean task!  why, you ask?  well, let me point-form it for you:

  • first, just getting three kids to sit at the table for however it long it takes the slowest eater to finish their meal is a trial. i’d like to invest in a seat restraint system to keep their butts in their chairs, but i think that might be frowned upon.
  • that’s if you can find a meal all of the kids will eat; because:
    • one kid hates potatoes
    • two kids hate rice — unless it’s in an avocado or cucumber roll
    • one kid hates tomatoes
    • one kid hates bacon — BACON?!
    • one kid hates lettuce
    • two kids hate cheese — unless it’s on pizza
    • two kids refuse to eat chicken — INCLUDING CHICKEN FINGERS!
    • one kid refuses to eat fish — INCLUDING FISH STICKS!
    • one kid will only eat spaghetti-shaped pasta
    • one kid hates ketchup
    • one kid hates mustard
    • all kids hate mushrooms
    • one kid only likes Freshslice pizza
    • one kid only likes Panago pizza
    • they’ve never had chinese food, but refuse to try anything new, so…
    • Brad can’t eat dairy of any kind (which just limits our meal options another level)
    • none of the kids like McDonald’s — WELCOME TO THE TWILIGHT ZONE
  • for the most part, the kids don’t know how to use cutlery properly — trying to get them to use a knife and fork to cut anything without it turning into a temper tantrum is futile.  despite how many times i try to tell them, they consider everything finger food.
  • but! one kid freaks out if his hands get dirty/sticky — YOU SEE THE PROBLEM HERE, RIGHT?!

so, yeah.  sigh.

i mean, i was – ahem, am – a picky eater, but i think it’s just easier to handle with one kid.  multiplying it by three and adding in all the different combinations of dislike makes trying to plan healthy, well-balanced meals a Mensa-level mind-bender.

we have a regular schedule of Taco Wednesdays and Spaghetti Sundays, but the other couple nights a week we need to feed them are utterly frustrating. i don’t want to serve them ground beef-based things multiple nights in a row, but if that’s the only thing they’ll eat, what else can we do?

so, we add in sloppy joes and Brad’s version of Hungarian Goulash.  sometimes we can cook them ribs, but that’s starting to out of favour, just like hamburgers and hot dogs did.  shepherd’s pie is a no-go because of the potatoes.  cabbage roll casserole is a no-go because of the rice.  mac & cheese is out because of the dairy and pasta shape restriction. they won’t eat sandwich meat, so there’s no sandwiches.  they can’t cut up a sliced roast if it’s on their plate, so we don’t do that (besides, what’s the point of a roast if you can’t serve it with potatoes or rice?).

we have a three-bite rule for new foods, but even that doesn’t work sometimes.  we’re also pretty solid about no dessert if they don’t eat their whole dinner, especially if it’s something they’ve successfully eaten before; but, even that doesn’t work if one or more of them is feeling particularly ornery  that evening.  so we tell them “don’t worry kids, if you don’t want to finish your dinner, it’ll be waiting for your bedtime snack”.  you can imagine how well that goes over.

googling “kid-friendly dinner ideas” comes back with all these cheesy, creamy, breaded things that any combination of the five us can’t or won’t eat.  i don’t know what to do anymore, really.

it’s not all bad, though.  they like most vegetables, even if preferably raw. so, the chances of them getting scurvy are low, at least.

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