There was no way in hell I was ever going to make a meal that required mushing things together or hiding vegetables from people. When I became a parent my kids would eat what they were served - be it chicken tikka masala or spinach frittata.
And then, ten years later, this evening, I put on my apron and went about cooking a family-friendly meal, as if that callous young woman who had cackled so cattily at the TV food show woman had never even existed. As I chopped my veggies into small bite-sized slices and prepared a cheese sauce in which to smother the vegetables, it hit me: it was happening to me. Correction: it is happening to me.
You see, we started off with pretty good eating habits. I went about feeding my sons the strangest of foods as soon as they were ready to eat: hummus and blueberries for breakfast; kidney beans as a snack; curries; Marmite on toast.
Okay not the last one.
The idea was to introduce them to a few more unconventional foods so that we'd avoid all those problems other parents seem to be having.
But over time, the adventurous palettes turned to more traditional ones and our dinner times have become - basically - tedious. I repeat the meals that our children will eat over and over and over each week because... well, they'll eat it. And because full tummies mean happy faces, easier bed times and less arguments and really who doesn't want an easier life?
So this evening I laid my culinary feat on the table and waited for the thunder of feet rushing excitedly to the table. The dish? Wait for it. Because it's good. This is the name of it: Cheesy Tater Tot Chicken Casserole. The perfect child-friendly meal. Half disgusting, half delicious, exactly the sort of the thing that should have them throwing themselves at the dinner table.
"Yuck." Said my son, M, staring down at the dish.
"Excuse me?" I said, offended.
And then I proceeded to whole-heartedly defend my tater-tot casserole as though it were a crown of lamb, using all the enticing adjectives I could think of, reasons why they should eat it, and finally threats (ie. no dessert).
Despite my efforts, no one really liked my cheesy casserole. Can you believe that? Oh, except for me and my husband who devoured almost the entire thing.
But don't tell anyone!
Image from funkylunch.com