|be advised | December 2016
A family of picky eaters
by Chris Aman
My aunt and her two children recently came to stay with me for a long weekend. I'm a single woman living in a one-bedroom apartment and gave up the bedroom to make sure that they were comfortable (her kids are still little -- 4 and 6 -- so they all fit on one bed just fine), and I crashed on the couch. My aunt asked what I was serving for dinner; when I told her the menu, she replied, "Oh, my kids won't eat that." In the end, I had to go out and get the groceries to make an entirely different meal. This happened for every dinner during their stay. It seemed really rude to me. Am I being too sensitive? There's a possibility that she may stay with me again over the holidays, so I don't want to just write this off. I could really use your advice!
Ahhh, you've gotta love the little ones and their finicky tendencies!
Quite honestly, yes, you are being too sensitive. I am certain that your aunt did not intend to offend, nor did she intend to be rude. It was likely an oversight that led her to think you were a mind reader and would know what her children would like to eat.
Now that I've gotten the sarcastic response out of the way, I will say that your aunt does have the responsibility to make sure her children are fed. If there are special requirements, she should have informed you of what they were prior to mealtime.
Assuming that your guests will eat whatever you make is a fair one -- if they are adults. Children are a different story. One week they will eat nothing but quesadillas with ranch dip, and the next they won't touch them. That being said, if they do return for a visit and stay with you, ask your aunt if she'd like to bring the snacks that her children are eating that week and what they'd like for meals. This is NOT an unreasonable request. If you feel that it is something you'd prefer to not ask of her and that you would like to provide meals and snacks when they are with you, ask your aunt to plan the menu (or at least provide enough ideas to cover the time they will be with you) prior to the visit so that you can shop. She has the children and knows what they will eat -- again, you are not a mind reader. You can add a few extra items that fit your tastes and call it dinner. Your aunt likely appreciates a place to stay and, more importantly, the ability to spend time with you. Don't make meals an issue as the gathering has nothing to do with the food. It is the relationship that matters. You can make a great meal out of anything.
If asking any of this prior to the visit is offensive to her, then I'd have to agree that you are not being overly sensitive and she is just being downright rude.
Before I sign off, I'd also like to take this chance to wish all our Be readers a happy holiday season, and a wonderful New Year!
Chris Aman, MBA, MSN, APRN, NP-C, is the co-owner of Inspired Life Wellness Clinic, where she is a psychiatric provider for teens and adults. She and her husband, Jason, have six children and live in Bismarck. They enjoy outdoor activities in the summer and hibernating in the winter.