Growing up as a kid, my favorite meal that my Mom made was Spaghetti, closely followed by hamburger patties with mashed potatoes and gravy or Russian Chicken. My Mom, by her own admission, wasn't the greatest cook. I'm pretty sure somewhere along the line, she picked up a recipe book directly from Campbells, and their Cream of Mushroom Soup Department. I swear every meal excluding my top three favorites, were made with COM soup. Nevertheless, we always ate what we were served for dinner. I still get grossed out by the thought of green bean casserole.
Growing up in the '80's, my brother and I were less than two years apart and we didn't have all the cool things my kids have to play with these days. We spent most of our days outside creating games to keep us occupied. But boy, we sure did fight a lot. I'm not talking about arguments or little spats. I'm talking about epic battles that usually ended in bruises and blood. I can think of two occasions which could have ended much worse if our aim was a little better. One time we were fighting about something at lunch and I smacked my brother upside the head. He picked up a butter knife, so I took off running. That knife went whizzing by my head and through the laundry room door. Close call! The other time, we were playing one on one basketball in our tiny bedroom with one of those hoops that hang over the door. It was rare that this activity did not end in a fight. On this day, my brother ended up punching me. As soon as he did it, he knew he was in trouble. He was scrambling to get away from me. He was much smaller and quicker than I was, so I picked up a shoe and threw it at him. I missed! The shoe went through the window.
There was one instance when we were like 4 and 5 years old in which I did not miss. My Grandparents had chicken coops on their farm that we liked to play in. One day, my brother thought it would be fun to lock me inside the coop, which completely freaked me out for whatever reason. I was screaming and crying. I guess he felt bad, unlocked it, and took off running. Again, he was much smaller and faster than I, so I grabbed a glass bottle which was laying on the ground and launched it towards him.......direct hit! Blood running down his face, he went screaming and crying to Mom. I honestly don't know how my parents dealt with our constant fighting. There were spankings, which worked for a while, but there came a point where Mom would spank us and we would laugh about it. The belt was scary at first, but after a couple of times, it didn't hurt either. They could ground us from playing outside, but that was only punishment to them.
Now that I am a Father of 3 and the family cook, I try to mix things up. I am fortunate that I can google recipes rather than look off a Campbells, COM soup recipe book. I just realized I should probably stop referencing cream of mushroom soup as "COM soup"! Emily and all the kids have different tastes and likes and dislikes. Em really doesn't like anything with ground beef except tacos, yet the only meals my kids love and agree on are meatloaf, meatballs, spaghetti with meat sauce and hamburger patties & potatoes. My daughter doesn't like pizza, grilled cheese sandwiches or fish. My middle son won't eat most chicken dishes, soups or mac n cheese. My youngest is the pickiest of all, and is hard to please. Early on, once I started doing the cooking, I made a rule, if you don't eat your dinner, you don't get dessert. On most evenings, dessert is picking a piece of candy out of the candy dish, or something simple. However, on those days that one of them decide they can not eat their meal, I reserve those nights for outings to Braums, DQ or Andy's. Yes, I'm kind of an ass, I know. I get some joy in watching the one child suffer as the other two gleefully eat their delicious treats. I normally order an extra and save their dinner plate, so when we get home, they have the option to finish and get dessert.
I'm thankful there is a 6 year age difference between the boys, though they still fight. My eldest daughter just tries to annoy the boys. I never want to spank the kids, however there have been times. I've tried to come up with creative ways to punish them for their wrongdoings, sometimes they work and most of the time they really do not. When nasty filthy things come out of their mouths, most of which, they probably heard from me at some point, they get to swish with a little apple cider vinegar or have a taste of vanilla extract. They pretty much dread those punishments. Another thing I've started is the job jar where they get to draw a chore out of the jar. It's filled with fun things like cleaning toilets, cleaning blinds or baseboards and mopping floors. I'm probably gonna have to remove the "cleaning toilets" job from the jar, since it has become my youngest son's weekly punishment. The kid wakes up at least twice a week, and acts as if the bathroom is on fire, and he has the hose to put out the flames! There is nothing worse than sitting on a wet toilet seat!!
All three of the kids have some sort of device. They watch shows and listen to music on them. There are times when I can here something different blasting on all 3 at one time, and have to get on to them to turn the volume down. Five or ten minutes go by, and the volumes are all back up. If I have to get on to them a second time, I'll find an episode of Barney or Backyardigans for them to sit and watch. My middle child will refuse to look at the screen. He will lay on the couch and stare a whole through the ceiling. Strangely, my youngest and the oldest seem to start to enjoy the show.
There are also those times when they have the headphones on, and the sound on max volume, so when I speak to them, they don't have a clue. In this circumstance, I excitedly get to pull out the old Bee Gees, Billy Joel or George Michael CD's for them to listen to. Please don't judge me for owning them. If I feel like they are not getting the proper anguish from listening to "Stayin' Alive" or "Uptown Girl", I'll show off some sweet dance moves and some horrible lip syncing as well. Once my pelvic area gets to thrusting, it's all over.......mission accomplished!
No parent likes to have to punish their kids or have to force them to eat things they really don't like, but there are ways of getting some enjoyment from it when necessary.