I’ve Created a Monster

It’s near dinnertime. Cait comes running in through the door from an after-school activity and, as all kids do, drops her book-bag on the floor and makes a bee-line for the refrigerator. She swings the door open, stands there, and peers in for several minutes.

I tell her, “You’ve seen everything in there long enough to have it memorized. Close the door and stop letting all the cold air out.” I add, “When you figure out what you want, then open the door again.” (I can’t help it; I was raised thinking that waste of any kind, including electricity, was a sin.)

As Cait closes the refrigerator door, I notice big fat tears rolling down her cheeks. Assuming something terrible has happened somewhere during her day, I ask, “What’s the matter? What happened?”

“Nothing happened, Mom,” she mutters dejectedly and walks away.

I’m thinking to myself, big fat tears are not nothing. I follow after her and ask again, “Why are you crying then?”

When she realizes I’m not going to let this drop, she turns.

As I wait for her to speak, I’m imagining that she’s had a falling out with a friend, or has gotten into trouble with her teacher, or… who knows what! Anything except what comes out of her mouth next.

She says, “There’s nothing good in the refrigerator!”

And then more tears. My daughter is crying, not because some child did something hateful to her, or because some teacher treated her harshly–but because she isn’t happy with the food selection in the refrigerator!

Then she adds, “You haven’t cooked us a good dinner all week, either.”

Ah, we’re getting closer to the heart of the matter. My daughter cares about food. She’s become accustomed to fine dining at our house, and is letting me know the standards have dropped.

You see, I’d gotten into the habit of whipping up some pretty fancy dinners as a matter of course when her two brothers (my stepsons) were around. It was a way to ensure we’d get to frequently see them; their stomachs were definitely the way to their hearts. They’ve both grown up and started lives of their own now. And, recently, I’ve been swamped with projects. So I just haven’t been inclined to cook as much.

Between the good food at home, and the occasional dining out (we’ve taken Cait with us to an eclectic assortment of restaurants since she was a baby), Cait has developed a pretty sophisticated palate, and rather high expectations for the evening fare.

“Okay,” I say, “grab your coat and let’s go out to eat; I’ll call Dad on the way. I don’t feel like cooking tonight anyway.” As I close the door behind us, I mutter to myself, “I’ve created a monster.”

Cait overhearing me and not missing a beat, says, “Or a future New York Times food critic.”

12 thoughts on “I’ve Created a Monster”

  1. Adorable. I think it is important for kids to be educated about food, and to appreciate good food.

    Here via the carnival of family life.

  2. Great post! I am always overcome with mommy guilt when there’s nothing good to eat in our kitchen…
    Glad your promoting the good stuff! Oh, and, btw.. my niece is a Caitlyn…

  3. That is wonderful you are raising your daughter to be so educated about food! And she is a smart consumer. You are doing A GREAT JOB, Mom! BTW I have wonderful niece named Kaitlyn. She goes by Kait. I have always loved that name.

  4. Meredith, wouldn’t that be great if we’ve helped them develop a taste for healthy, fresh, good food!

    Therapy Doc, Cait? Have me trained? When? Where?! LOL! She’s pretty darn wonderful, that kid, if I do say so myself.

    Jan, do you have any Italian in you? My mother’s like that too–very Italian. I think I must have gotten it from her…

  5. My children and now my grandchildren have always equated the contents of my refrigerator with my measure of love. I’m considering a padlock.

  6. It sounds like you’ve done a great job so far, raising your daughter. It is funny in a good way that she was sad about her food choices. I am thinking one of my girls may be on that same track, she likes the good stuff.

  7. That’s a great story! Thanks for stopping by my blog party. Is your daughter’s name Caitlyn? My daughter is Kaitlyn. Nice to “meet” you!

  8. Kailani–just think of all the good restaurants out there hankering for a review. Of course, Cait would need an experienced dining partner to help sample a wider selection of the menu… :)

    Stephanie, I think it’s some kind of kid gene– ordering the most expensive item on the menu.

  9. She’s a smart one!

    We’ve also created monsters. Our kids love shrimp and lobster and steak and basically anything that is expensive!:)

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