Dinner time is always a time of joy and a time of tears. We have managed to establish a silly ritual in which the boys seem to think that their food can only be consumed once they have determined how many bites to take - mom or dad being the one that sets the number. Usually 15 to 20 bites. It drives me crazy that dinner has become a countdown. Along with the counting there is usually some grumbling and complaining about certain ingredients.
I spend about 30 to 60 minutes preparing dinners because I really enjoy food and I like to cook. I refuse to be a short order cook. I make one meal and if you don't like it... well that leads me to the best part.
I bought a can of dog food - we don't have any dogs. I put the can of dog food in the middle of the table and I said, "I spend some time making this meal for you and I am tired of the counting and complaining. If you don't like what I make then you are welcome to eat the dog food because anything that I make is inevitably better than dog food and I am tired of you treating the meal that I make for you like it is dog food." That night I received accolades for the meal I made.
The dog food currently sits in my pantry and on an evening that I make something a little different I bring it out just to remind them that anything I make is better than dog food... at least I hope it is.