So, it's been awhile. I admit, the craziness of all day school, with half day school, with no school, with extra curriculars and what not...I have taken awhile to adjust. Not just to the schedule, but the shift in parenting of this new season. The kids are older and well, we are working on more heart issues than behavior issues. It feels far more time consuming.
Enter dinner time. The age old battle over food. Really, Shawn and I have had it pretty good. Our kids know you get what you get and half the time they eat it. In toddler land and kid land, that ain't bad. However, we have recently dealt with:
1. An older child who eats his meal and declares he wants more, but "something else...not more of this." Uh...no sir.
2. A middle child who declares the food "not tasty and not my favorite" sight unseen. Unless it's a hot dog or a piece of fruit, he's out. Needless to say, that doesn't fly well at all.
3. A picky little girl who would prefer to snack her way through life on fruit chewies, has the attention span of a gnat at the table and will only consume more than four bites of a meal if it is "orange pacaroni (macaroni)".
It's been awesome, to say the least. Dinner time is frustrating and I dread spending time on a meal only to go into the "war zone" and fight against the ungratefulness at the table. It's not so much the food, but the attitude in which they approach it. The entitlement they seem to feel towards being given what they want, when they want it and to turn their noses up at what is offered.
So...we made a plan. Beans and Rice. Our friend once mentioned something their family participated in at Thanksgiving. Three days before Thanksgiving, their family ate plain oatmeal for breakfast, beans and rice for lunch and beans and rice for dinner. The third day, they added cheese (she said, she'd never been more grateful for cheddar in her life) and then on Thanksgiving, their eyes were opened to the abundance of food and choice they are given.
It seemed like a good idea. It was a good idea. However, I am going to admit, it did not go according to plan. (Do any of our brilliant parenting ideas?)
We started Sunday night. Our kids mowed through the rice and beans (except Amanda, who will only eat beans). They loved it. Shawn and I thought it wasn't too bad. In the morning, only Gavin would eat plain oatmeal (and only four bites). The other two chose to drink milk and forgo cereal. Lunch was beans and rice. I will admit to caving and handing out some almonds as a snack. (At this point Amanda had only eaten beans and some milk...so I decided a little protein was best. She's only three and I think the gratefulness lesson was over her head, but did figure this a time to work on not snacking her way through life and eating what's provided). Shawn came home and declared he was eating plain malto meal for dinner and the kids and I went back to beans and rice.
The kids were doing fine. Gavin was getting a bit out of it and understood what we had been telling him, but ate without complaint. Brayden sat down to each meal declaring "I love beans and rice" and Mandy just continued her normal behavior of barely eating anything and whining.
Shawn and I? We were fading. He could hardly look at the beans and rice and as hungry as I was, even I struggled to down it. And that's a big deal. I am someone who can go a day without eating and barely notice. I am the person who always eats the leftovers, even if I didn't care for it, because I hate to waste food. I am not a foodie. I used to think I was pretty easy in this regard. Until I had beans and rice thrust upon me for 6 meals straight. Not to mention, I realized, when I enjoy most of my food is after the kids go to bed and I can get what I want and watch a show or something. Having no food after dinner! I think my stomach started eating itself each night at 7. Ugh!
And so...A lesson has been learned. Shawn and I are thankful. We are thankful that we have food. We are thankful we have variety. We are thankful that we have the opportunity to introduce the variety to our kids, even if it is greeted with resistance. We are thankful for the ridiculously stocked pantry that we can raid any time we want...especially after 7! We are thankful.
Now, I don't want to say my kids didn't learn a thing. I really think they grasped some of it and in the conversations we made a conscience effort to have I did see their hearts starting to grasp gratefulness. Opening the conversation about how to be content, learning to turn to Godfor help...because sometimes it really is so hard or downright impossible on our own! (Especially after 7 o'clock at night)
But really...I think Shawn and I were taught a lesson. When we would stare at each other at night, desperately wanting to sneak into the pantry and just gorge ourselves on anything with taste! When we faced down the beans and rice, once again. When I contemplated the words I said to my kids, "Many people don't even get three meals a day. Many people eat the same thing for all three meals. Many people feel hungry in their tummy's all the time." The most impactful for my kids and me was a fact I found in my research to prepare for our week. "One in every eight kids deal with hunger or starvation."
It was a wake up call to the extreme fortune I was born into. And while I was all prepared to change the hearts of my kids, God changed my heart and showed me yet again, that I could afford to listen to my own lecture.
And so this Thanksgiving, I think my heart is in a far better place to actually give thanks. I think I will be overwhelmed by the abundance. I think I will treasure the left overs. I think I will be thankful when I feel "full" and I will be contemplating what our family can do to provide for those who are feeling the pain of hunger. And I believe I will even be thankful and manage a smile when my kids turn their noses at the yams...because we have yams for them to turn their noses up at!