Category Archives: Meat & Potatoes

Apron Strings

www.melindawentzel.comI am a mediocre cook at best, perhaps an unlikely one as well, since I never was much for the kitchen—even as a kid. I have a handful of recipes in my repertoire that I feel comfortable with, most of which have been handed down through family over a number of years. Mastery came only as a result of determined effort and decades of repetition—certainly not from talent or inclination. That said, I almost never stray from the recipe, sticking to the formula that has worked for me time and again. There’s always the chance I’ll burn or undercook something, so I suppose that’s all the adventure I need.

Occasionally, I’ll branch out and try new things that I’ve seen on the Food Network, but only if I can pronounce the ingredients and find them easily in the grocery store. I’m not one to traipse around looking for something completely obscure that Giada went on and on about. That’s just not me. The degree of difficulty matters, too. Chances are if a third grader couldn’t prepare it, blindfolded with a whisk tied behind his or her back, I’m not likely to tackle it anytime soon.

I realize this isn’t the sort of example I ought to be setting for my daughters—always playing it safe, unwilling to step outside my comfort zone in order to reap the benefits that sometimes come with taking risks. As adults I’m hopeful they’ll be more adventuresome than I, delving into cookbooks, experimenting with new recipes they find online, crafting their own from scratch.

I’m sure if I had sons I’d feel the same way.

Nevertheless, I don’t pretend to know what my children will glean from me as it relates to culinary skills. Lord knows I’ve tried to lure them into the kitchen, because, of course, I’d feel like a complete failure if I didn’t at least teach them something. I’ll admit it was easier when they were small. We’d pull the heavy mixing bowls out of the cupboard, shove wooden chairs up against the counter and sort through the drawer for favorite aprons—the ones that practically swallowed them so many years ago, two tiny sets of feet peeking out at the bottom. Together we’d bake cookies, scooping mounds of flour, cracking eggs in a less-than-efficient manner and eating chocolate chips straight from the bag. Not surprisingly, my kids were greatly invested in anything that involved making a terrible mess and/or eating sweet stuff.

Over time, I coaxed them into learning how to make some of their favorite dishes, banking on the idea that they’d be inspired by the outcome. For the most part, this has worked, evidenced by the fact that they feel comfortable enough to make their own dinner once in a while and no one has burned down the house as of yet. No small feat.

I suppose it doesn’t really matter whether they fall in love with the kitchen and all that it entails. I won’t be disappointed if they fail to fully embrace it, nor will I be displeased if they do. I just want them to continue to enjoy spending time with me there—even if I have to bribe them with Ghirardelli chocolate chips or having free rein to make an enormous mess of my kitchen, something that’s still very popular.

What’s more, years from now I hope I’ll see that I’ve managed to impart at least two things to my daughters, neither of which has anything to do with properly sautéing vegetables or peeling a hard-boiled egg without destroying it. I want them to recognize the importance of making a meal for someone who really needs to feel pampered or just plain loved—to know that comfort food is a godsend when someone is grieving or recovering or stressing about life in general.

I also want them to remember how special it made them feel to have someone bake them a birthday cake, slathered with their favorite icing and/or sprinkles. If they can in turn bake someone happy on their special day, that would indeed make me smile.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live. Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2016 Melinda L. Wentzel

1 Comment

Filed under Gratitude, Growing Pains, In the Trenches of Parentville, Meat & Potatoes

Food for Thought

www.melindawentzel.comI’m pretty sure June Cleaver’s head would explode if she knew of my pitiful and often failed attempts to gather my brood at the dinner table for a real sit-down meal—Leave it to Beaver style. In a word, I am woefully inept when it comes to planning, preparing and placing said meal upon the table in a timely and aesthetically pleasing manner. So much so that my kids have apparently forgotten what it’s like to dine as a family within the confines of this particular circus-inspired, scheduled-to-the-max sort of establishment. Never mind that we did so for much of the summer, sweet corn having been shamelessly utilized as bait. But I digress.

“You want us to sit here? Together? And talk about our day?” my incredulous kids ask, clearly taken aback by the prospect of stopping whatever it is they’re doing to plunk themselves at the kitchen table for twenty to thirty minutes of food and not-so-idle conversation. Of course, my gentle demands are often met with a healthy dose of eye rolling coupled with I-can’t-possibly-set-the-table-if-I’m-tying-my-soccer-cleats-AND-doing-my-homework brand of snarky commentary. Par for the course in the trenches of Parentville, methinks.

Needless to say, the Gods of After School Madness rarely smile upon me and may, in fact, revel in my ineptitude, mocking my efforts to deal with the deluge of mini-crises that routinely befall our happy home at that critical juncture—that impossibly brief and patently crazed window of time wedged between the instant my charges make landfall and the race to the 437th extracurricular event of the week. As a less-than-composed parent, and seemingly without fail, this is the time when the wheels fly off and the bottom falls out.

That said, the phone typically rings just as the pots on the stove begin to boil over and shortly before godknowswho knocks at the door, sending the dog into an apoplectic barking seizure. Moments later, my dear progenies demand that I flit from the stove to hover nearby while they wrestle, by turns, with the concept of divisibility and the large and unwieldy vocabulary words that may or may not appear in a book I, stupidly, suggested. Granted, the experience itself is decidedly intolerable. Furthermore, it’s rumored that I may know next to nothing about math and even less about adverbs. However, the ceaseless petitions for my help continue—in the midst of meal preparation, listening to a certain French horn and clarinet, answering the door and phone, conducting backpack search and rescue missions (for decomposing food!) with disturbing regularity, frantically gathering whatever paraphernalia will be needed for this or that nightly venture and dealing with the occasional cat vomit surprise and/or dog-poo-on-the-bed bit of hideousness. (For the record, I’m not particularly interested in learning how the latter occurred).

At any rate, when and if I finally succeed in shepherding one and all to the celebrated table to feast on what (hopefully) will qualify as a palatable meal, I immediately remember why I went to such lengths at all.  Firstly, there’s compelling data that links sit-down meals with a child’s success, especially with respect to at-risk behaviors—so saith a team of researchers at Columbia University and Dan Harris of ABC News. Secondly, Anderson Cooper of CNN desperately wants “…to bring back the family dinner, one meal at a time” through his Sunday Supper Club and I, most assuredly, don’t want to disappoint him. Thirdly, and perhaps most notably, the discussion that takes place over peas and potatoes (or whatever I managed not to burn beyond recognition) is invaluable. That alone is worth the price of admission.

Often there is talk of “bad actors” on the bus and goose poop on the soccer field, who vomited profusely in the cafeteria and which dweeb dared to drink the “mystery brew” that a host of classmates lovingly prepared. Not to be outdone, my husband brings his own brand of bizarreness to the conversation, opening a tiny window into his day as well. As it should be, I suppose.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (occasionally at the dinner table with my inimitable cast and crew). Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2011 Melinda L. Wentzel

4 Comments

Filed under Homework Hell, Meat & Potatoes, School Schmool, The Natives are Decidedly Restless

In Praise of Turkey and Tradition

We make pot pie at our house each Thanksgiving—a savory Pennsylvania Dutch meal that features the most perfect blend of onions, potatoes, thick squares of doughy goodness and meaty strands of chicken. Only we use turkey on this festive occasion. Six-and-a-half pounds of succulent dark meat to be exact, bathing in a vat of broth that most would find fairly intoxicating. It’s tradition. Or more correctly, a slight variation on tradition that serves to remind our family of the delectable dish my mother-in-law made not so long ago.

That said, in the four years since Grandma Ella’s been gone, I’ve tried at least three times to marry the flavors of the aforementioned dish as well as she did. And although I doubt I’ve managed to achieve that level of culinary success, I’m guessing I’ve come close—which is saying a lot given my proclivity for food related disasters, making me heady with the notion that my skills are no longer thought to be among the most deplorable on record.

Tomorrow will be yet another attempt at pot pie mastery, and, of course, an opportunity for all of us to close our eyes, to breathe in the deliciousness that will hang heavy in the air and in doing so, to revisit a time when Grandma stood at the stove peering into a steamy pot, summoning her special brand of kitchen wizardry. I’ll wear her rumpled apron for good measure—a speckled and storied bit of fabric flecked with tiny green leaves, now wan and threadbare from decades of use. I’ll wear it because I cannot imagine surviving the ordeal without splattering inordinate quantities of the soupy potage upon myself, but also because it’s tradition—or at least that is what it has become over time. Heaven forbid I disturb the delicate balance of good luck and a great recipe by offending the gods of tradition and/or flawless feasts.

With any further good fortune, I’ll be able to lure my charges away from the colorful swell of parades on television, from their beloved Wii in the den and from the pervasive yet somehow endearing skies of gray and barren woodlands long enough to enlist their help in the kitchen. Never mind that Thing One completely abhors turkey. Or that Thing Two will feign interest unless and until I permit her to stand atop a chair to drop wedges of dough into a boiling sea of broth. Grandma would’ve let her do such a thing, mindful to teach her the importance of placing each wedge, carefully and singularly, atop a bubble as it surfaces within an impossibly brief window of time. Just as she taught me—just as I hope and envision all three of my children will one day teach their children. Handing it down from one generation to the next.

Again, with the tangible and treasured notion of tradition—on this Thanksgiving Day and, perhaps more importantly, on perfectly ordinary days—the ones I routinely fill to capacity with obligations of one kind or another, dismissing all too often the mundane slivers of time with my family as opportunities to connect and share that which I value. Of course, I kick myself for doing so, recognizing that it is the harvest of tiny moments that matter most. Like the delicious time I spent with my grandparents, especially my grandfather in his workshop—a place that reeked gloriously of motor oil and sawdust—a place where I became inextricably consumed time and again with saws and sandpaper, two-by-fours and tape measures. A handful of seemingly insignificant pages of childhood that somehow clung to the corners of my mind, filling me with the warmth that comes from having lived them.

I’d like to think that simple traditions (like making pot pie) are like that, too.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (in praise of turkey…and tradition). Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2011 Melinda L. Wentzel

2 Comments

Filed under Meat & Potatoes

Food for Thought

www.melindawentzel.comI’m pretty sure June Cleaver’s head would explode if she knew of my pitiful and often failed attempts to gather my brood at the dinner table for a real sit-down meal—Leave it to Beaver style. In a word, I am woefully inept when it comes to planning, preparing and placing said meal upon the table in a timely and aesthetically pleasing manner. So much so that my kids have apparently forgotten what it’s like to dine as a family within the confines of this particular circus-inspired, scheduled-to-the-max sort of establishment. Never mind that we did so for much of the summer, sweet corn having been shamelessly utilized as bait. But I digress.

“You want us to sit here? Together? And talk about our day?” my incredulous kids ask, clearly taken aback by the prospect of stopping whatever it is they’re doing to plunk themselves at the kitchen table for twenty to thirty minutes of food and not-so-idle conversation. Of course, my gentle demands are often met with a healthy dose of eye rolling coupled with I-can’t-possibly-set-the-table-if-I’m-tying-my-soccer-cleats-AND-doing-my-homework brand of snarky commentary. Par for the course in the trenches of Parentville, methinks.

Needless to say, the Gods of After School Madness rarely smile upon me and may, in fact, revel in my ineptitude, mocking my efforts to deal with the deluge of mini-crises that routinely befall our happy home at that critical juncture—that impossibly brief and patently crazed window of time wedged between the instant my charges make landfall and the race to the 437th extracurricular event of the week. As a less-than-composed parent, and seemingly without fail, this is the time when the wheels fly off and the bottom falls out.

That said, the phone typically rings just as the pots on the stove begin to boil over and shortly before godknowswho knocks at the door, sending the dog into an apoplectic barking seizure. Moments later, my dear progenies demand that I flit from the stove to hover nearby while they wrestle, by turns, with the concept of divisibility and the large and unwieldy vocabulary words that may or may not appear in a book I, stupidly, suggested. Granted, the experience itself is decidedly intolerable. Furthermore, it’s rumored that I may know next to nothing about math and even less about adverbs. However, the ceaseless petitions for my help continue—in the midst of meal preparation, listening to a certain French horn and clarinet, answering the door and phone, conducting backpack search and rescue missions for decomposing food with disturbing regularity, frantically gathering whatever paraphernalia will be needed for this or that nightly venture and dealing with the occasional cat vomit surprise and/or dog-poo-on-the-bed bit of hideousness. (For the record, I’m not particularly interested in learning how the latter occurred).

At any rate, when and if I finally succeed in shepherding one and all to the celebrated table to feast on what (hopefully) will qualify as a palatable meal, I immediately remember why I went to such lengths at all.  Firstly, there’s compelling data that links sit-down meals with a child’s success, especially with respect to at-risk behaviors—so saith a team of researchers at Columbia University and Dan Harris of ABC News. Secondly, Anderson Cooper of CNN desperately wants “…to bring back the family dinner, one meal at a time” through his Sunday Supper Club and I, most assuredly, don’t want to disappoint him. Thirdly, and perhaps most notably, the discussion that takes place over peas and potatoes (or whatever I managed not to burn beyond recognition) is invaluable. That alone is worth the price of admission.

Often there is talk of “bad actors” on the school bus and goose poop on the soccer field, who vomited profusely in the cafeteria and which dweeb dared to drink the “mystery brew” that a host of classmates lovingly prepared. Not to be outdone, my husband brings his own brand of bizarreness to the conversation, opening a tiny window into his day as well. As it should be, I suppose.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (occasionally at the dinner table with my inimitable cast and crew). Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom to share your in-the-trenches parenting moments.

Copyright 2011 Melinda L. Wentzel

On a side note, I was completely thrilled to learn that I had been selected to receive the highly coveted Versatile Blogger Award last week! And in acceptance of said award, I’d like to personally thank the woman responsible for nominating me, Lisa Tognola of Main Street Musings. Please do take a moment out of your harried day to visit her site. You won’t be disappointed. I promise.

And in the spirit of celebrating some of the most versatile bloggers on the planet I know (and in passing along the award to each of them in turn), I’d like to invite you to visit their sites as well. Whether their voices have been irreverent and snarky, thought-provoking and informative or palpable and heart-rending, they’ve spoken to me in a manner that’s been most memorable. Here’s hoping they’ll speak to you, too.

http://julia.typepad.com/

http://anymommyoutthere.com/

http://stoopmama.com/

http://www.wendiaarons.com/

http://sarahandthegoonsquad.com/

http://annalefler.com/2011/08/frankenwhat/

http://thebloggess.com/

http://www.whiskeyinmysippycup.com/

http://www.goodybastos.blogspot.com/

http://mommasaid.net/

http://www.andrea-stanley.com/

http://toddlerplanet.wordpress.com/

http://www.alittlepregnant.com/

http://neanderdad.com/

http://www.finslippy.com/blog/

Welcome to My World…

In keeping with the Versatile Blogger Award tradition, here are seven random facts about me that hopefully won’t result in damnation, divorce or an inordinate degree of shame.

1)  I am not EVEN REMOTELY RELATED to a morning person. Make a note.

2)  Laundry is the bane of my existence. I’m fairly certain that’s where they’ll find me when I buy the farm, surrounded by behemoth-sized heaps of fetid-smelling clothes and mumbling something about “…a cruel, cruel world,” wishing I had simply been “…run over by a fucking truck.”

3)  My husband and I once stayed in a Honeymoon Suite (for a much-needed respite from parenthood—and for the sole purpose of drinking to excess and engaging in wanton sex in a hot tub) only to fall dead asleep for 12 straight hours instead. Oy.

4)  It’s rumored that my lips have touched a 2-quart plastic milk bottle on more than one occasion.

5)  I only pretend to understand Pokémon whateverness, and on a related note, I only pretend to understand my dog, in all his neurotic glory.

6)  I was once sneezed upon by a reindeer in North Pole, New York (aka Santa’s Workshop). It was ugly and I don’t want to talk about it.

7)  I once broke my hand in a less-than-composed parenting moment (read: a fit of rage involving glitter glue, lip gloss and my children’s bedroom carpeting). I once broke a toe in the shower. Don’t ask.

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Filed under Homework Hell, Meat & Potatoes, The Natives are Decidedly Restless

In Praise of Potato Salad

Memorial Day is fast approaching. Five days and counting. A time to reflect upon the collective sacrifice made by countless servicemen and women throughout the history of this great nation. A time to recognize our past and present soldiers for their valiant efforts in wars here and abroad. A day reserved for flags, parades and formal remembrances.

However (and shameless as it sounds), I can think of nothing but potato salad right now, and how it has been an integral part of nearly every Memorial Day celebration in my life. As a kid, I remember sitting on a sun-drenched curb in the center of town, waving one of those tiny flags on a stick as my hometown marching band, dressed in spats and scratchy woolen suits, passed by, their irksome hats slipping ever so slightly over their faces—the ones reddened by both the morning sun and the furious pace. There were gleaming fleets of fire trucks, too, in all their glory, and massive floats that inched by, their crepe paper skirts flowing in the breeze—floats from which an obscene quantity of candy was ceremoniously launched, sending kids scurrying into the street to gather it by the fistful.

Indeed, the parades of my youth always seemed grand, but they were nothing compared to the annual picnic that would follow. In my mind, of course, it was all about the potato salad. The rest was just fluff—perfunctory trimmings that merely served to round out the meal on that special Monday in May. I knew what truly mattered. It was the potato-y goodness contained within my summertime favorite. So what if summer had yet to officially arrive. It was the consummate medley of onion, celery and carrots—perfectly infused with mustard and mayonnaise, pepper and eggs. Mom’s specialty. Now mine.

For the most part, I’ve adapted to the role, however, it has not come to this household without fits of passionate debate. That said, a select few (who will remain nameless, to protect and preserve their flawed views) believe that the aforementioned vegetables ought to be diced into chunks so impossibly small as to be rendered invisible. Naturally, one might question how effectively the flavors could then be enjoyed; never mind the nearly negated crunch factor. There are certain individuals, too, who would dare suggest that Miracle Whip is somehow comparable to Hellmann’s—the thought of which I find purely sacrilegious. Still others refuse to partake at all if it is rumored that a solitary Spanish olive has touched a morsel of the mix, insisting, instead, that I include sweet pickle relish—an unconscionable act in my mind. As a result (and to appease the whimsical nature of the crowd), I often get strapped with the tedious task of making SEVERAL ENTIRELY DIFFERENT POTATO SALADS. Ugh.

But I digress.

It’s almost Memorial Day and I couldn’t be happier to be on the cusp of summer, poised to embark upon a season of picnics and the endless pursuit of fireflies. Of course, anyone can make potato salad at any time of year. Even in January for Pete’s sake. But who would want to? It flies in the face of tradition and would likely anger the Gods of Outdoor Feasts. I, for one, rarely tempt fate in that manner—content, instead, to stick with that which is customary and perhaps unobjectionable to the masses.

Aside from the great anticipation with which I approach the coming holiday (since I am certain it will involve the deliciousness of potato salad made to my liking), I recently discovered TWO MORE reasons to celebrate the culinary goodness of summertime.

Firstly, May is National Hamburger Month, which of course fills me with the irresistible desire to race straight to Tony’s Deli, where the best burgers on the planet assemble en masse. Seriously. There is a succulent quality about them that is almost beyond description. Secondly, May is also National Salsa Month, which quite possibly explains all the trips to Ozzie and Mae’s Hacienda these past few weeks, where I’ve felt compelled to gorge on homemade salsa and tortilla chips. Olé! All in all, May is shaping up to be a positively delectable month, methinks.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (in praise of potato salad). Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2011 Melinda L. Wentzel

2 Comments

Filed under Holiday Hokum, Meat & Potatoes

Puuuurfect Pancakes

PREPARATION TIME: Significantly longer than it takes to prepare entrée without a feline helper—or without assistance from children drunk with amusement over said feline and his asinine antics.

SERVES: As many poor souls who dare to partake—despite knowing all the facts.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup dry Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix

¾ cup milk

1 T oil

1 egg

Dash of saliva, eau de pussycat

Tuft or twenty of black fur (see above)

Trace of cat breath (don’t ask)

INSTRUCTIONS: Combine dry pancake mix and milk in a bowl. Set aside on counter. Instruct children not to blow on flour-like heap or to stir clumps of milky mixture with their fingers—no matter how tempting that might be. Search high and low for oil and fresh egg, employing great care not to trip over children or ravenous cat in the process. Set egg and oil on counter and begin search for measuring spoon. Warn children (hand on hip and finger wagging is optional) not to spin or juggle egg—no matter how tempting that might be.

Become thoroughly engrossed in some inane activity like talking on the phone (with husband who SHOULD be home helping with dinner), checking e-mail or responding to 324th child-generated question of the day. Set table. End activities and return to pancake disaster-in-the-making. Work self into frenzy upon sighting cat on counter with head totally immersed in bowl. Throw both hands up in the air and then on top of head (hair pulling is optional) while giving children patented incredulous how-could-you-NOT-tell-me-he-was-in-the-batter?!! type of look.

Really go ballistic when eye-contact is made with little black bastard, now abundantly bedecked from nose to tip of whiskers with flour/milk mixture. Begin fuming profusely from the ears when cat nonchalantly blinks and licks his lips as if to say, “It’s simply marrrrrrvelous.” Bolt in the direction of furry four-legged miscreant, screaming louder than when he shattered favorite butter dish and shredded children’s school calendar—just because. Chase wily little demon around the house like a madwoman bent on thrashing his sorry patutie, while simultaneously launching a lengthy and colorful tirade, recounting each and every misdeed for which he was responsible and all that could have possibly been WRONG with the decision to ADOPT said cat. Kick and pummel self repeatedly for having caved-in to kids’ begging and whining for cat, for becoming attached to his fuzzy little face in the first place and for ever thinking his ridiculous pranks were cute.

Catch breath and regain composure while dismissing feelings of utter rage and loathing toward cat. Give up on locating him for the time being. Vow to thrash him next time. Accept the fact that THERE WILL BE A NEXT TIME. Return to kitchen. Reassure ashen-faced children that you haven’t killed their pretty new kitty. Instruct them not to repeat the words Mommy shouldn’t have said—no matter how exciting that might be during Show and Tell.

Warm griddle or fry pan to medium-high heat or until a few drops of water sizzle upon contact—with pan or with furrowed brow. Remove tufts of fur from flour/milk mixture. Add remaining ingredients to bowl. Mix well. Convincingly explain that all those silly cat germs—now housed in the batter—will surely be killed once we “…put it on the stove and cook the bejesus out of it.”

Pour batter onto heated surface (in desired shapes and sizes), ignoring children’s persistent requests to “Make him one, Mommy! Make him one!”

SERVE & ENJOY: Resist the urge to noticeably inspect pancakes for traces of fur, etc. and deny all claims that… “Mr. Binks helped us make pancakes, Mommy! I think I can smell his breath in here!”

Heaven forbid you give him that kind of satisfaction.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2006 Melinda L. Wentzel

 

3 Comments

Filed under "S" is for Shame, Cat Chronicles, Daily Chaos, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, Meat & Potatoes, Ode to Embarrassment, Rantings & Ravings

How to Win Friends and Influence Children

Dale Carnegie might have made his New York Times bestseller even more successful had he known what I now know about motivating others—especially the mulish imps with whom I reside. He could have rocked the world with the groundbreaking information I’ve painstakingly gathered from the field (i.e. the Mommy R & D Laboratory).

The beauty of said discovery is that, in essence, it is ridiculously simple—my kids will do anything for a chicken nugget. Homework standing on their heads. Soccer drills during a monsoon. Strep tests with glee. They’ll even take a bath and clean their room on a Saturday, which elevates the validity of positive reinforcement to an unprecedented level of acceptance. Without question, if a savory nugget is the prize (warmed to perfection or stone cold), I can consider the unpleasant task at hand done. And if the esteemed chunk of meaty goodness came from Tony’s Deli—all the better.

Case in point (as I tucked one of my cherubs into bed recently): “I’m afraid you probably won’t be going to school tomorrow, Hon. Not with that fever.” A pall then fell over her face—as if I had announced the sun didn’t like us anymore, so it would be moving to another galaxy, ending life as we know it.

“But we’re having chicken nuggets for lunch tomorrow, Mom,” a tiny voice whimpered from beneath the covers, the hovel where the smallish being in question shivered and shook thanks to that wretched sister-to-malaria she had undoubtedly contracted.

“Nuggets?” I thought to myself, completely baffled by the inane notion that a piece of poultry could wield such power—enough to inspire a sickish child to drag her sorry self to school. I expected a far different plea; one that perhaps involved the cute boy with the Sponge Bob lunchbox or gym class with those beloved scooterish devices or a library full of “…my favorite horse books!” all of which would have been sacrificed on a day home from school. Not once did I hear, “But Mom, I’d miss my friends and my teacher and the best bus driver in all the world!”

Nope. Chicken nuggets ruled. Go figure.

“And anyway, I’d miss soccer practice, and all that sloshing around in the mud…and my coach…and my team…and I wouldn’t be able to look for worms afterward to add to my collection! It’s not fair, Mom; I have to go to school. I just have to. Besides, it’s the last time the cafeteria ladies will make chicken nuggets for me this month and I’d have to wait until December to have them again!”

Given that this strange child of mine likes a grand total of two meals on the school lunch menu (fish sticks and chicken nuggets, but not chicken tenders or poppers because dear God, they’re INFINITELY DIFFERENT than nuggets!), I understand her dilemma. Completely.

“Okay, you can go to school tomorrow if you don’t wake up feeling absolutely horrible. But just for the record, it’s against my better judgment,” I said grudgingly, having caved yet again. But part of me cheered the news, comforted in the knowledge that I wouldn’t be saddled with a whiny child all day, longing for her precious chicken nuggets, enraged with me for having deprived her of that which she adores. I have enough trouble being labeled Meanest Mom on the Planet.

At that, she breathed a great sigh of relief and snuggled deeper into the sea of blankets. All was right with the world. “Thanks, Mom.”

“So what’s the big deal with chicken nuggets anyway? It seems as if that’s all you ever like to eat.”

She then reminded me of the note she had scrawled some time ago, highlighting for my benefit (as well as for the cafeteria personnel’s future reference) what specific menu items currently meet with her approval. Among a host of other things she considers tasty, the list included chicken nuggets (or more affectionately, cicen nuggets).

I stand corrected.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2008 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Daily Chaos, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, Kid-Speak, Meat & Potatoes, Mushy Stuff, School Schmool, Sick-O Central, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction