My eldest turned 16 over the weekend and it got me thinking about how I always encompass food in special holidays, including birthdays. From when the children were younger I made it a point to always cook their favorite supper for their b-day, their cake of choice and we always had everyone present for a sit down meal. Now, I should say that on Friday, the day before my big boy turned 16 I didn’t ask what he’d like for supper because I was sort of waiting – checking out to see if he’d notice. Well, Saturday morning thankfully he woke up reasonably early and the first thing he asked was what’s the special supper and did I make his b-day cake. So, he sat down and told me what he’d like for supper – Chinese food (ugh), I tried so hard not to show how much this saddened me because I always look forward to cooking a special meal but I understood this day wasn’t about my cooking and all about what he wanted. He gave me his list – typically Canadian Chinese food – think chicken balls drenched in sweet syrupy sauce and fried rice. Now, I did try my best to get him to look at real authentic Szechuan food – anything with octopus/squid was out of the question and I almost begged for a hot pot but alas no go. The cake thankfully I got to make – his favorite double chocolate with vanilla icing. It’s a simple cake and there’s enough coffee in that cake to keep us awake.
My son spent the day with his guy friends but by 5:30pm he came home to enjoy our ordered meal. We all sat around the table and gabbed and I thought as I forced myself to eat the so not good Chinese food that this is what it about. Having family around to share in these moments. In another two years my big boy will be off to some university (fingers crossed) and our youngest who is seven, I want her to remember how life was with her big brothers around. Yes, it’s loud, lots of rough housing but those sweet tender moments are a treasure.
I had a talk the next day with my big boy and asked if he liked his b-day. He said yes and then he floored me by saying he really likes how we usually always have a sit down meal. Now, this raised my eyebrows because I can tell you there have been many fights to get everyone to sit down for a meal and with four kids and sport schedules it’s not always possible but for us at least four days a week we manage it. He told me many of his friends’ parents don’t do this and his friends eat in front of the TV. Oh where was my camera when he screamed at me when I wouldn’t allow this? Don’t get me wrong sometimes I will allow this but the point of a meal is sharing. We go around the table and ask each child how their day was, what stood out to them and usually during supper is when I find out they have a project coming up or there was an incident at school. Our lives are so on the go that without this forced sit down time I’m sure I’d miss so much, plus I like having them enjoy the meal all together.
Food does bring us together. I use food to show my children without words how much I love them. Maybe that’s wrong, but I don’t care, it works for me. I hope as they grow older they will realize these forced sit down meals weren’t really a bad thing. Maybe they’ll surprise me and incorporate them into their own families and that would make me smile.
What do you do? Do you cook special food for your children? Do you have sit down meals? Is the hassle worth it? Share your thoughts.