It was that time of the evening when children start to whine, "What's for dinner?" I opened the fridge and looked in, hoping for inspiration; searching for a good, yet easy, answer to that annoying question. On this Friday night of a long week, I found myself fixated on the yogurt and a bottle of wine, but I knew it wasn't the right answer for the kids.
With the dollar down, however, the amount of leftover beans in our refrigerator was up, and like me the kids couldn't bear to pass their plates for another serving of what had morphed from an arts-and-crafts supply to a table staple. They couldn't make sense of this highly unexpected transformation and likely wondered if glue would next make the menu.
We had bowls of lima beans, bowls of navy beans, bowls of black beans, and bowls of refried beans. The last thing anyone in my house wanted was re-run beans. In fact, we'd eaten so many beans in the past couple of weeks that my youngest son, instead of asking, "What do we have to eat," like a normal hungry boy, had taken to asking, "Is tonight a meat night?"
Beans, beans, they're good for your ... It stabbed at my heart.
And if it's not beans we're eating, it's peas. In an attempt to liven up their meal, the kids asked, "If beans are good for your heart and make you, well you know, then what are peas good for?"
"Peas, peas, they're good for your brain," I rhymed. "The more you eat the more you can retain." There were grumblings of whether such things were true. It wasn't the kind of bodily function they hoped for in a food rhyme.
My young daughter made a tradition of digging through her spoonfuls of black-eyed peas like it was New Year's Day and they hid financial reward -- coins that if scooped out would yield a portion of good fortune to her in equal measure; enough coins and theoretically she might have the means to change up the menu, to avoid plundering the peas again for at least 12 months, or eating so many beans.
"Honey, this is a bowl full of plain peas. Nothing special. So eat up," I told her as she scooted her peas around her plate looking for a quarter or two. I thought that perhaps eating peas without the risk of choking on a dime just wasn't appetizing, but later she revealed that she was really trying to spread them out to make it look like she ate them.
Peas, peas they're good for your ... Smarty pants.
My middle son spent bean and pea nights pushing them around his plate as well, building and tearing down mounds like a boy and ants battling for terrestrial dominance. He pondered things like, "What will I get if I plant a pinto bean?"
"A hatchback," I quickly responded. Not understanding or appreciating the joke, he shoved his beans toward the perimeter of his plate, ignoring me when I encouraged him to eat up.
So on Friday night, staring at all those plastic containers filled with peas and beans, both my brain and my heart got involved in the dinner dilemma. My heart told me not to torture my offspring with anymore rhymes designed to make peas and beans more palatable. My brain told me to give the kids the yogurt and give myself the wine.
My gut told me thank you.
(Lucy Adams is the author of Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run. She lives in Thomson. E-mail Lucy at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit her Web site, www.IfMama.com.)