Hamburger Helper and pizza, please!

My daughter’s dream menu is not for the refined palate

I really have to help my kid refine her tastes.

When her mom goes away for the weekend, which she did for a women's hockey tournament recently, we can plan on some quality daddy/daughter time around the Dad on Board manse.

This means watching movies, playing video games, hanging out with neighbors and cousins, and eating anything we want. (Note to the mom in question and others concerned: Vegetables make at least one appearance during these two-day mini-vacations.)

In fact, dining plans were the first thing we talked about as we waved goodbye to the hockey mom.

“You can have anything in the world that you want for supper tonight,” I said to her. “What do you want?”

“Anything?” she said, clearly weighing her options carefully. It's not every day that a kid gets to take control of the evening's plans.

I expected to hear something along the lines of lobster ravioli, calamari with marinara sauce, or maybe her new love: iced tea. I thought it would be something she'd consider fancy.

Instead, I got this: “I want Hamburger Helper and pizza and nachos and macaroni and pot stickers.”

She didn't even take a breath as she unleashed the staccato blast of her dream menu.

“Oh, and for dessert – ice cream,” she added.

Of course, these are things a 9-year-old might choose if 9-year-olds ran the world, or her father to be honest, so I should not have been surprised by her choices.

“Really?” I said. “Hamburger Helper?”

She assured me that, yup, those things would go together perfectly.

There's a few reasons I thought this was hilarious: First, the kid is skin and bones. She'd get about two bites into one of those things and push herself away from the table, stuffed.

Second, that'd be more than I'd want to spend on a meal where the majority of it comes from the kitchens of Kraft. And third – we'd have to confess our culinary sins to her mother when she got back from the tournament Sunday night. And I don't think Monsignor Amy would look kindly on our savory shortcomings.

I opted to take back a little control and be the Dad. I told her that our meal of mostly boiled foodstuffs wasn't going to happen, and she should perhaps rethink her choices. She just laughed and told me she knew those weren't good choices.

I also thought that if I wanted to lead her to the finer things in life, or at least expose her to things a bit less microwavable, I should probably provide a better example. My idea of a date night with my wife is to pick a Route 28 chain restaurant we haven't recently frequented. Usually she'll call an audible and point us toward a much nicer option, but if I was left in charge it'd be wherever the best parking was.

So with that in mind, I was determined to guide my impressionable child to make smarter choices.
In the end we thought we'd combine as many of those foods as we could and ordered a hamburger pizza. After all, her mom was probably on the ice at this point – and she may absolve us if we left her some.

Bill Burke is a writer who lives near a really good pizza place in southern N.H. with his wife and daughter.

Categories: Dad on Board