One of our twins has entered a “picky eating” phase where he’s basically refusing anything with nutritional value, and consuming way too much processed junk
Friends, I’m a relatively healthy cook. We eat full, balanced meals almost every night including meat, starch, and plenty of vegetables (typically a salad and one or two cooked veggies). And this child will not eat most of what I make. It’s gotten to the point, in fact, that he won’t sit near the foods he doesn’t like.
One night recently, for instance, his twin had requested meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, and a salad for dinner. I had a few asparagus spears that needed to be used, so I steamed those as well. Sounded like a good meal to all of us, except my picky boy. When we sat down, he had some salad and a slice of meatloaf on his plate. He refused corn, and threatened to leave the table when the bowl of mashed potatoes was placed on the table next to him.
It was all I could do to not snap at him. I admit it. I was frustrated and angry that I’d put the time and effort into creating a meal for our family, and one of my own children was unwilling to be at the same table as a dish he doesn’t like.
I was able to keep my temper in check as I realized that…well, he’s five. He needs a little guidance on how to politely decline a side dish he doesn’t love, while still remaining at the table with his family, but, well, he’s five. We have time to work on shaping his personality and I’m certain he’ll be fine if we set a good example now. And Ryan and I do try to set good examples at the dinner table when something is served that either of us isn’t fond of. I, for example, am not a huge fan of sloppy joes, but the guys all like them, so I prepare them from time to time, and I’ll put a small serving on my plate and eat some without comment. When there’s something on the table Ryan doesn’t like, he politely declines and we move along without incident.
Some adults, however, do not have the maturity to dine at the same table as another person who doesn’t share their same beliefs. With Thanksgiving being tomorrow and my annual reminder to be thankful for all of our blessings- even amid a year that has forced us to seek and find joy in the simpler things in life- I am going to say it again for the people in the back: BE. THANKFUL.
Be grateful for the people in your life, even those whose opinions differ from yours. Be forgiving. Forgive those whose beliefs differ from yours. A difference in opinion is how we learn. Be empathetic. Look at the world through a different lens; try to picture where other opinions come from, and remember that sometimes it’s ok to agree to disagree. Your reasons for believing a certain way may have no weight in someone else’s life. And that’s ok. We are all in this together, we are all here to learn from each other. My heart breaks a little each time I hear someone say, “if you can’t see why your opinion is wrong, your life means nothing to me and we can’t be friends.” Opinions aren’t wrong, folks. Opinions are opinions, based on personal conviction and life experience. The beautiful thing about life is that we all have the freedom to believe as we wish. Doesn’t make us right- or any more right that the person next to us- it just makes us human, which is the one thing we all have in common. So why can’t we just treat one another that way, hmm?
This year has been anything but easy. This year has been trying and frustrating and just HARD. Hard to find the joy on some days. Hard to breathe with so much weighing on us in so many different ways. Hard to parent in a positive way when there is so much negative to address. Hard to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving. Hard to be at home, perhaps, for some who aren’t safe at home. Hard to live without a living, for those who have lost their livelihood through shutdowns. Hard to see the good when there is so much bad. But I promise you, it’s there if you squint hard enough- even if it’s just a tiny speck.
Find something to be thankful for, and find some peace this Thanksgiving. Even if for one day, let go of everything else and be present. Let go of what you can’t change (like other people), fight for what you can, and know that you do make a difference. The world can be an ugly and hard place, but it’s also beautiful. And if anyone tells you any different, there’s always room at my table…right next to the mashed potatoes.