What Do Kids Really Mean When They Ask, “What’s For Dinner?”

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What's For Dinner? DontMesswithMama.com

Lately, I noticed something my son was doing that his friends in kindergarten weren’t. They ran up to their mommies and daddies when they came to pick them up after school and gave them big hugs and kisses. Mine just always wanted to know, “What’s for dinner?”

After a long day at work I always hope that my kids will be just as excited to see me as I am to see them. To see their smiling faces and hear them laugh makes this whole rat race/career-thing tolerable for me. Having my son ask me “what’s for dinner?” made me feel like my presence isn’t all that significant in his day.

I’d like to think that he asks me this question daily because he thinks his mommy is a great cook. But most nights it’s all about what I can heat up or microwave in 20 minutes or less – chicken nuggets, cheese quesadillas or PB&J sandwiches. So that clearly was not the case.

Was it his way of telling me, “Where the heck have you been all day lady? You haven’t done anything for me. You don’t care that I’m trapped here at school all day!”, which brings out my whole working mother guilt thing. Should I be at home raising my children, being a super-involved PTA or classroom mom, enriching their lives by my very presence, making them organically, nutritionally balanced meals rather than working and having a career?

I didn’t want to make a big issue out of it and I hoped it would pass after a day or two. Not a chance!  This went on for nearly two weeks and it was really starting to grate on me.  I had to find out why my son was asking me this question instead of happily greeting me like his classmates.

So last Friday in the car on the way home from kindergarten I asked him ever so casually, so as not to make him think it was a big thing even though it totally was to me, why he’s always greeted me with that question instead of  giving me a hug or kiss.

His answer? “Because I’m hungry. Silly mommy.”

Lesson learned here, he’s five years old. He’s not being passive aggressive, his motives are pure and totally innocent. He’s at school daily from 9 am to 3 pm, learning and playing and apparently working up quite an appetite. It was all about me and my baggage and this ideal I have of being the “perfect mom.” I needed to get over it.  The kid is hungry and he  just wants to eat.

Now comes the bigger dilemma, what should I make for dinner?

Image courtesy of dusky / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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  1. Funny!

    My kids have been asking “what’s for dinner?” for as long as I can remember. Now they’re grown and gone but they still ask when they’re coming over. Cracks me up.

    • Debra Rutt says:

      I guess I should be ready to hear that question all my life then!
      I’ll have to check out your Swedish Meatballs, I could use that as an option one night for the family!

  2. Jennifer Johansen says:

    Haha! Yep, passive-aggressiveness is definitely learned, and not something kids are born with. I asked my four year old yesterday if she ever thought before speaking. “I can’t think AND speak. That’s silly!” Of course, of course.

  3. Lisa Garner says:

    My sons have always been the kind of kids to greet me with what’s for dinner, do you have any snacks, can we stop for a drink etc. It’s nice to be reminded they are normal!

    • Debra Rutt says:

      Isn’t that the truth! I always wonder if this is “normal” because all I know is with my own kidlets….it’s good to know it’s a shared experience!

  4. I can relate. Kids are so innocent and moms overthink. *Sigh* My son and I used to have the same scenario. Now, I just make sure that a snack is ready and waiting (he’s almost 14). That kid can eat!!

    Great post!

    Penny at Green Moms and Kids

    • I think you hit the nail on the head – parents overthink and kids just say things not thinking what it really means. So parents need to just let it go. Thanks for visiting.

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