A few nights ago, I was making dinner when my six-year-old stepdaughter, Chloe, joined me in the kitchen. Without saying a word, she pulled her stool over next to me and peered into the pots on the stove.
“What is that?” She asked me as I chopped carrots.
“Those are peas, Chloe. You know what peas are. You love them!” I said, trying to end the conversation. For the last few weeks, Chloe had become the Queen of Hate when it came to previously-loved foods. Doesn’t matter if she ate eighteen salmon patties the week before because today? She hates them.
“No I don’t! I hate peas!” She said, naturally.
I smiled. I resolved a long time ago to let go of the food battles. She still ate most of the things we gave her and it just wasn’t worth ruining everyone’s evening with a classic “there are starving people in China” quip.
“Okay, Chloe,” I said. “Even though you eat peas every time we make them.” I winked at her and tossed my carrots into another pot. I watched Chloe look at the peas again and then step down off of the stool.
“Well… what kind of peas are they?”
“The same kind I buy every time, Chloe,” I told her, opening the freezer and showing her the bag. “When you made that Christmas cookbook at school, you even wrote a recipe for peas! How can you not like peas?”
There was a long pause while Chloe looked over the bag in my hand before she said, “Well, it’s because those aren’t the peas my mama buys. That’s why I don’t like them.”
…are you kidding me?
Look, when I became a stepmom, I was prepared for all of the “You’re not my mom!” cries everyone told me about (For the record, I’ve never heard them from either of our kids’ mouths). I knew that I was second best to the kids’ mom (Which is how it should be) and I was aware that one day I might feel like this was a pretty thankless job (On the contrary, I feel totally appreciated by EVERYONE involved).
But I never thought that my kid would turn down dinner because I didn’t buy the same brand of peas as her mama.
I wasn’t offended or discouraged, but there was a definite Aw, crap moment. I thought about all of the other things I buy that are probably different than her mama’s product choice. Shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, underwear, snacks, juice boxes, etc. And then, I started worrying about other things like if we tuck them in the same way, if they prefer bath time at their mom’s house or if they are really confused as to why we can’t record Disney movies off of our television. Chloe has never complained about any of the things I buy (Neither has her younger brother, Trey) or the way things work at our house, but it really hit me that evening that she has two totally different homes. And while they’re not really all that “separated” (I don’t think they are, anyway, considering we’re all so close), I worry about her and her brother. I worry that me doing things differently makes them homesick or nervous, even if they’ve never given me any indication of it.
So what do I do? Do I go and buy the brand of peas their mom buys, even if i don’t like them? Or do I just chalk this up to another six-year-old thing and carry on?
David, my husband, says that was just Chloe’s excuse to not eat peas. He says I tend to overanalyze and worry too much.
(He’s so right.)
What do all of you think? Have you ever bought the same products for your stepchildren that their mother buys to make them feel better? Do you think I’m just being dramatic?