A Difficult Dinner

October 23, 2015 at 2:00 pm 4 comments

I believe it is my responsibility as a father to create a home of love and acceptance where my children can be free to discuss any topic, examine every choice, and be true to themselves. Sometimes, however, your children grow and change in a way that is completely incongruous with the lifestyle you promote for your family. This can create tension, conflict, and outright hostility if you’re not careful. The challenge for us Dads, then, is to work through our grief and reach a place where we can accept this new aspect of our children with love and grace.

As Baz Luhrman said in his classic tune Everybody’s Free, “The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind. The kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.” This one certainly blindsided me and, coincidentally, it was on a Tuesday.

The Painful Revelation

As we sat down to dinner I could sense some tension in my kids. They are usually full of energy and excited for the family meal, often fighting over who gets what colored plates and where they were going to sit. But today was different. There was no arguing nor any fussing. Something was on their minds.

The family dinner table has always been a place for open discussions about any topic, a safe space to work through tough issues. So, as I began to fix my daughter’s plate she felt comfortable enough to just let it all out. I was not prepared for what I heard.

“Daddy, I don’t like tacos.”

Her words hit me like a knife in the chest. In the middle of some idle Tuesday, even worse a Taco Tuesday, my life had suddenly taken a sharp left turn.

Denial

“What?!” I sputtered. At first I just pretended it was a joke and kept making my meal. “No, you like tacos. Everybody likes tacos.”

I started fixing one for my son and he immediately began to protest. “No, Dad, I don’t want that.”

My heart jumped in my chest. This wasn’t some anomaly with just one child. Both of my kids just told me they do not like tacos. I was suddenly facing the possibility of having to lead a life of taco-less parenting.

Panic set in as I filled a crispy shell with tasty taco fillings. “No, you’ll like it! You add the meat and then some lettuce…” I began slamming ingredients into the shell feverishly, ignoring my son’s growing complaints. If I just ignore it, the problem isn’t really there, right? This is just a phase! My little boy loves tacos! Who doesn’t love tacos?!?

My heart was thumping as I watched the boy pluck the lettuce from the shell, hold it up for me to see, and drop it onto his plate. “Dad, I don’t want salad in my food.”

Then he turned the shell over and dumped the rest of its contents onto one side of the plate, broke the shell in two and covered both pieces with a fat handful of cheese. I wondered how he thought to do that and then I saw my daughter had already done the same thing. My head was spinning.

“That’s all you want?” I asked.

“Yup,” she replied, not bothering to look at me.

“Pieces of broken shell and cheese? That’s just raw nachos.”

“Uh-huh. Can I please have some ketchup?”

I slumped forward and let the cool surface of the dinner plate on my forehead soothe me for a moment.

Anger and Bargaining

This was a nightmare. I put a lot of work into making this dinner. The grating of cheese, the mincing of onions, the purchasing of shredded lettuce – all of it gone to waste on these ungrateful, little barbarians. In front of us was half a dozen glass bowls filled with delicious taco fillings and now I was potentially stuck having to eat tacos by myself for days. Ok, that doesn’t sound so bad. But it is small consolation in the face of this new and painful revelation.

“Why don’t you just take a bite of mine?”, I asked in vain.

The response was an emphatic “No”. I held up my taco for the boy to try and by the look on his face you’d have thought I was offering him a compost sandwich.

Depression, Reflection, and Loneliness

How could this be? What did I do as a parent that led to my children not liking tacos? They’ll eat sugary, garbage snacks, fish eggs, and whatever comes out of their noses. But tacos? No thanks, DAD!

This is all my fault. To be honest I should have seen this coming. Their first exposure to tacos was at a Taco Time drive through. Who does that to their kids? This past summer I made a fantastic spread of tequila lime grilled mahi-mahi tacos and when I plated one up for my son he stared at it for much too long. He then picked up the tortilla by the edge and shook out all of the fillings onto his plate like he was dusting a rug. Soon I was alone at the table, both kids having gone back outside to play in the warm sun.

Acceptance

It will take me some time to come to grips with this truth about my children. From now on when I want a tasty taco I’ll have to prepare them as an extra along with my dinner, like when my mother would fix herself a small pot of some weird vegetable that the rest of the family didn’t like. No more Taco Tuesdays at this house. Just regular dinner in which sometimes Dad will have a “side taco”. Sesame ginger chicken, coconut rice, and a side taco. Grilled salmon, garlic mashers, and a side taco.

The kids seemed to understand, even as they shattered my heart like those crisp tortilla shells. “It’s ok, Dad,” my daughter spoke sweetly while crunching on her raw nachos. “You can just make us some noodles and dessert.”

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To My First Grade Girl Four in the Morning

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. memyselfandkids.com  |  October 27, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    I’m not sure if this will help but I will put it out there anyway. My older son loves egg tacos! Inside the shell are eggs, cheese, and sauce. Maybe, they will go for that. I hope this will provide you comfort in your time of need.
    Sorry buddy.

    Reply
    • 2. Hop Dad  |  October 28, 2015 at 11:32 am

      Hey, it’s worth a try! It’s similar to breakfast burritos. Thank you for the suggestion.

      Reply
      • 3. memyselfandkids.com  |  October 28, 2015 at 12:17 pm

        Sure. I hope it helps ease the pain!

  • 4. amberamulets  |  November 20, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    Hilarious because I can relate! My kids aren’t big on tacos either and I had the same gut-wrenching reaction! Lol! Who doesn’t love tacos???

    Reply

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