The Perfect Dinner, Or Not
On Wednesdays, I finish work early and my wife works late, so I have the kids from the time they’re done school. I like to find different things for us to do, to mix in chores with some fun. This past Wednesday, we needed to go grocery shopping, so I decided to liven things up and do a stir fry for dinner.
I explained to the kids that I needed them to help me pick out what we’d be cooking. It was, I have to admit, a great idea. As we shopped, they looked for things to include. Fresh celery? Naturally. They picked out the perfect bunch. Peppers? Nah. They really didn’t want those, so we left them out. Water chestnuts? They’d never heard of them before, but were caught up in the excitement of the dish. In they went, and we were on to the next thing.
Back at home, they got some reading in while I did the cooking.
Everything seemed to be working perfectly, right down to the timing. My wife arrived home just as I was plating the dish.
“Stir fry?” she said. “Wow!”
“Not only that,” I said. “They helped.”
“Yep,” my nine-year old said, closing his book.
“Can I have chicken?” his younger brother asked.
“No,” I said.
“Because I cooked stir fry.” I smiled at him. “If you want to eat, this is what you can eat.”
“What about Spaghettios?”
“This is what I cooked.” I said firmly. “This is what you can eat.”
At the table, the little guy tried a taste and made his oh-no-I’m-going-to-puke face. If you’re not a parent, you probably think that’s cute and easy to ignore. Believe me, it’s not. I did my best, though.
“Mmm,” my oldest said. “This is delicious!”
My wife, meanwhile, had broken out a collection of spices from the cabinet and was discreetly flavoring hers with everything from red curry to something called condimento completo. “It’s really good,” she said.
“I can tell,” I said drily.
“I really like the beef,” my oldest said. “It’s so chewy!”
My wife made one of those little “eep” noises that polite people make when they’re trying hard not to laugh.
“It is,” the big guy insisted. “I like it this way!”
“Thanks,” I said. “Glad to hear it.”
Once he finished, he stood up. “Could I have yogurt or something? I’m still hungry? ”
“There’s more stir fry,” I said. “You know, if you want it.”
“Mm… No. I’m not really that hungry.”
“Yes, you can have some yogurt,” my wife said. “Or what about a banana? That’s healthy.”
“Yeah,” he laughed. “That’s what I need.” He gave me a significant look. “Some healthy food.”
Great. Now my stir fry wasn’t just chewy and disgusting. It was also bad for us.
In short, it was the perfect dinner.