The chore that every parent undertakes daily – the timely execution of the evening meal. Bring it on!
It always starts with excitement and the feeling of pride. The dream of it only taking fifteen minutes, in line with Jamie’s expectations, but really ending up with a few f’ing hells and fist throwing, in line with Gordon.
Either way, all the legitimate research has clearly demonstrated that the amount of effort and time you contribute to a child’s dinner, is equally proportionate to the speed and accuracy of aim when it is chucked directly back at you!
I failed to read the research!
I decided to coordinate a meal of bangers and mash. It wasn’t fancy, even the sausages were just standard pork, and the peas were good old Lidl’s own – frozen not fresh! I was however proud. Proud that I was making an effort in creating something as a result of my own labour, with more effort than just plying open a cardboard box of beige – which had been extremely successful last night. In hindsight it makes me wonder why I have deviated from the norm!
The smell of sausages emanate from the oven, as I whip up the potatoes with butter into a frothy consistency. Check me out Nigella!
I dish up one plate in the standard arrangement of mash, with sausages on top, peas on the side and all drizzled with gravy. I even make one of the sausages stand slightly erect – purely for my own giggle factor!
It looks amazing, a perfect home cooked meal. My ego is boosted more when my eldest happily accepts it, picking off the from the plate while in his travels back to the daily dose of YouTube. But then I look at the second empty plate and think for a few seconds. My younger son, Rhys, is autistic, and although sausages are a winner – potatoes, peas and gravy are not part of his dietary portfolio.
But there is one thing he does love – cake!
Going the extra mile, I get creative. With all the Heston imagination I can muster, I grab a cupcake case and start to spoon some mash into the green cup. Taking one pea at a time, I add them like sprinkles and finish with a little icing gravy.
I stand back and nod in amazement at my work.
Placing the mash ‘cake’ next to the ‘guaranteed to be consumed’ sausages, I take a deep breath of confidence and proceed to the front room, depositing the meal with pride in front of my son.
“Rhys, dinner” I say, and then pointing to the cake, I add “look cake”
Standing back I watch my son pick up the cupcake in his hands. It’s a bit squishy in texture, but he picks off one of the green sprinkles and places it in his mouth.
I mentally jump for joy as I watch my son, who only consumes a handful of items, eat something new. I have done it, I have found the secret method of new food introduction.
I might write a recipe book detailing different ways to present food. I will call it ‘The Food Disguise”!
But I am pulled from my aspirational dreams with the feeling of mush being forced into my hand. The handful of green is then increased as Rhys proceeds to take each one of the other green sprinkles from the cake and place them in the palm of my hand.
While I stand with a handful of peas, I grasp every ounce of hope that the potato will find its way into the taste test. My eyes wide with the urge to not miss the moment, I see Rhys lift the cake to his mouth and lick the soft fluffy contents.
I hold my breath and then exhale every piece of hope I had. My future recipe book lying crumpled in a virtual heap, a review on the back reading “With every pea comes a handful of mash!’
Rhys holds out his tongue as if it has been coated with poison. Taking the palm of his hand he wipes the potato from his tongue and then immediately discards it on his t-shirt. The cupcake case is tossed to the floor, landing in the scientifically correct way of potato side down!
Going back to the kitchen, I tear open a box of pizza. The round beige meal deposited onto the middle tray of the oven and the knob ramped up to 200°c.
“Ok Google, ten minute timer” I say, and ditching my chefs hat, realising that I have been defeated. There is only one option. To leave the virtual assistant to take the reins.