When Your Own Family Hates Your Cooking

  • Kristin van Ogtrop

There is a new, sad little pattern that happens almost nightly in my household and it goes like this:

Me: “Time for dinner!”
Kids thunder down the stairs.
15-year-old: “What’s for dinner?”
Six-year-old: “What’s for dinner?”
Me: “Blah blah*
15-year-old: “Ugh.”
Six-year-old (whining): “I hate blah blah.
15-year-old: “Can I make myself an omelet?”
Six-year-old: “Me too?”
Me: Silent, head in hands, despairing. Another epic kitchen fail by Mom.

And what is for dinner? What is blah blah? Blah blah could be: anything vegetarian; anything with kale; anything with cilantro; anything with spinach, swiss chard, arugula, zucchini, beets; anything without carbs; anything without cheese; anything without soy sauce.

I KNOW this is a cliché. I know! I realize sitcom episodes and book chapters and blog posts have been written about this for years, decades, maybe even centuries. I know this, and still I’m beginning to get a complex. You see, I think my kids just hate everything made by ME. They will eat any pot roast or baked fish with a weird sauce or even asparagus, for God’s sake, when they are at someone else’s house. I have witnessed it, and heard other parents marvel about what “good eaters” my sons are! But when it’s made by me…can I have an omelet?

Last night was the last straw. I made this fantastic vegetarian chili from Real Simple, which had no cilantro or spinach or kale or swiss chard. But, of course, it had no cheese or soy sauce. So…can I have an omelet?

When I was back in college and working on the school literary magazine with a bunch of other jaded, snarky undergrads who hated everything, I decided that, as a test, I would retype a short story by Alice Munro or Raymond Carver or John Updike and submit it, just to see how unworthy my fellow critics would say it was. I never got around to doing it, but it’s given me an idea. You probably know where I’m going with this. And if you see me sneaking out of Smashburger tonight—well, just don’t tell my kids.

*not the name of an actual dish