Yes, the dreaded meal plan. You search and scour different areas of the Internet, books at Costco with smiley, healthy looking people on the covers that are midway through chopping fruit and eventually, all the interruptions in the day just makes it too much. In desperation, you turn to your significant other and, rather pointedly, ask for help while you’re trying to make the home smell less like poo and more like The Bay’s perfume counter. This happens with a lot of stay-at-home moms and stay-at-home dads when the chicken hasn’t defrosted in time and you think to yourself that popcorn with an apple is the perfect supper for that particular occasion.
Take a photo of that and upload it to your Instagram with the caption, ‘Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Pinterest moms!’ I dare you.
Which leads us neatly onto the humble black bean enchilada. This is screaming with potential in making for a tasty meal at the end of the day as you trudge wearily through the house, turning off lights and yelling at nobody that’s listening. I know from past experience that actual enchilada sauce is a bit spicy for our young kids, so we substituted it with a very mild salsa. And look at all the different things that you can chuck in to one of those! Black beans are just the start.
Onions, corn, chillis, cilantro (that herb at the back of the cupboard), cumin (that other herb that’s further back in the cupboard and hasn’t seen daylight since 2014), limes, oregano, garlic, cheese, more cheese, tomatoes, green onions and sour cream to taste which basically means a gallon on my plate please because I have to keep my dadbod looking like a dadbod otherwise this blog isn’t legit. Take all of these ingredients, lay them on the table, open up tins, mix together well and you’re ready for greatness. Verily, to be looked upon by your children and have them think that you are the best Dad in the world, maybe not the coolest (that distinction apparently goes to Darth Vader), but definitely the best. Yes. Bestest, actually.
The box within my brain marked ‘Cooking’ was spritzed with a bit of metaphorical WD40, cleaned, oiled and then very carefully opened. Cooking does require, for me, a great deal of thought and concentration. Any recipe that I make should be celebrated, especially any new one, otherwise you’ll find me useless in the basement for three days, rocking backwards and forwards, a pool of depression on the floor when I realise how much money I’ve just figuratively thrown into the garbage pail.
During the prep stage, enter stage left my two-year-old, Pup. He wanted to know what’s going on, but more importantly, why you weren’t playing with him. Sure, it’s six in the evening and dinner is past due, but Pup wanted to be involved, babbled at different things, poked at chairs and very carefully and deliberately stuck his fingers into stuff, scrunched up beans in his little hands and then put them back where he found them. Which is nice that he did that, in a way, but kind of not okay when he’s fiddled with the food preparation that at some point you’ll have to eat later. This is also another reason why hardly any of us gets sick anymore. Eat dirt, kids, it’s good for you.
Pup eventually gets a bit bored then toodled off, leaving me alone to contemplate the meaning of the black bean and how much, numerically, is ‘a pinch’. And then:
My head moved faster than a seagull zeroing in on a Vancouverite’s sandwich, as tears streamed out of Pup’s eyes. He’s just shoved his arm into the bin to take out the shiny thing that he saw, except that it was one of the black bin tins and now he had his finger caught between the sharp tin lid and the tin itself.
I carefully moved his arm out of the garbage (see, I’m going all multi-cultural with the lingo here!), and appraised the situation. Yank his finger out of the tin quickly in a terrified panic and it’ll cut the offending digit pretty badly. Pull the tin apart slowly and he’ll escape it plus be less traumatised as now he won’t have red stuff spraying out of his finger. He’s also child no. 3, so I go for the latter, not the former. Panicking probably would have been me at child no. 1, poor guy. So, I prised the tin apart and somehow, thank God, he got free without further injury.
‘NAAAAAHHH! NAAAAHHHH! GAAAAHHH! AAAAaaaahhh!’
Cuddles and shushing and hugging and rocking and cuddles and rocking and hugging.
‘Want to watch TV with the kids?’
I turned it over to Paw Patrol, his favourite, despite protests and pleas from Lightning, our 6 y.o, and everyone settled in for the next little while as Pup cuddled with his IKEA kitten.
Now I contemplated the table with all the ingredients. I looked at the time and I decided to wave the white flag. I went into the back of the kitchen, removed a bunch of Rubbermaid containers, put in everything that I had taken out of tins and packages into those, shoved them into the fridge and popped some bread into the toaster as there wasn’t enough time now to make the enchiladas and cook them. After that adventure, the enchiladas would now have to be postponed, otherwise we’re looking at putting kids to bed at 10 p.m, they’ll be up at their regular time of 6:30 a.m and they’ll be super-duper cranky for the rest of the day, which will make it so much fun.
We had PB&J toast and everyone still went to bed happy. We had a better day in the morning than what we would have had otherwise. I will win no points for my children’s nutrition for that evening. The ingredients stayed in the fridge for a couple of days as Friday was pizza night, but eventually the recipe was made and it was pretty awesome. And that’s not even the point. The point is mental health, theirs and mine. I do not like the days, dread them, when the kids are so up and down emotionally because they’re tired from the moment that they get up. A good recipe can wait for a good day. As a parent, I have to make an on-the-spot change go with the requirements. See why I need to grease the wheels on my mental box marked ‘Cooking’?
Yay for coffee, is all I can say.