Class Warfare Blog

June 2, 2019

I Went Through Childhood Never Having Been Asked What I Wanted for Dinner

Filed under: Culture,Education — Steve Ruis @ 12:10 pm
Tags: , , ,

Last night I saw a TV commercial in which a bright and chipper Mom asked everyone what they wanted for dinner. Each kid chimed in with a different idea (pizza, spaghetti, whatever) and then Mom miraculously whipped up food that met all of these requests! I do not remember what the commercial was for (Miracle Whip?) because I had a moment of reverie trying to remember if I had ever been asked what I wanted for dinner. (When I reached a certain age it became very important for me to remember things. I have gotten to the stage in which I can remember that I once knew something but couldn’t remember what it was and sometimes I can then wrestle mightily with age and actually come up with what I thought I knew but had feared I had forgotten. Other times, of course . . . <cricket, cricket, cricket> memory gone!)

The best I can recollect, I can’t remember being asked what I wanted for dinner, at home. In very rare visits to restaurants (McDonald’s was considered a restaurant) I was allowed to select certain things but at home, nada.

In no way do I feel deprived. I had a loving and protected childhood. It took quite a while but I finally discovered that this was not the norm, TV shows like Leave It To Beaver, and Father Knows Best to the contrary. We ate dinner seated around the dining room table every evening. TV viewing was restricted to after dinner and Saturday morning cartoons. (We had but one set and it was black and white.)

I remember family meetings, around that self same table, in which we discussed where and when we were going on vacation. Us kids were not asked where we wanted to go or what we wanted to see but we still got excited about going on a trip. (I do remember being 14 and not wanting to go on vacation as it would gut my summer baseball season and I was allowed to stay home by myself for two weeks. Today that might be considered child abuse but I felt very trusted (and I got $20 to spend on groceries that, yes, I cooked myself).

It seems possible that children are now asked more often what their preferences are for such things. I don’t really know, but I suspect that this came about (if it did) based upon advertising.

In my world as a youth print and TV ads were generally not directed at children. The first of those in my recollection were Saturday morning commercials for breakfast cereals and toys. This was a time period where the audience was rather well defined (adults didn’t get up early on Saturday to watch Beanie and Cecil or Kukla, Fran, and Ollie) and it was felt that kids had some leverage in asking for sugary breakfast cereals and toys. Of course, enough whiny kids begging for such things resulted in editorials in newspapers decrying the adverts directed at children.

Soon to follow was fashion for kids. (Every boy I knew in my youth wore teeshirts and jeans or chinos, except the Catholic school kids who wore the current school uniform.)

I do not take my oft taken stance of the grumpy old man chasing the kids off of his lawn in this case, but I do wonder about consequences. Kids seems to be more focused on money and acquisitions than when I was young. My main source of income was scrounging soda pop bottles in the creek, taking them in for the deposits. (In high school I had a $2 week allowance (for dusting and vacuuming the house every Saturday on top of doing my normal chores and I felt quite flush.) Kids now seem to have more disposable income that some of their parents. They also seem to have more of everything that did we as kids.

Things change . . . often for the better and often not. Handling such changes should be given more room in our educational curricula as, for example, our political stances toward long-term phenomena, such as climate change, show we need better tools in this area.


  1. Asked what I wanted for dinner? LOL from first seeing the title of this post by you until the universe dies off. Yes, on the odd times we, as a family went to a restaurant I got to pick what I wanted, as long as I didn’t ask for a hamburger. I found I liked shrimp.
    Kukla, Fran, and Ollie? Remember that show. I was born in southern Wisconsin and we lived for a while in the northern portion of Illinois and the show was done in Chicago originally. Any others here who saw it would have been on film sent to stations who signed up to show it.
    I remember Crusader Rabbit also, my first favorite cartoon. The best cartoon show was Rocky and Bullwinkle in my opinion, followed by Soupy Sales. Still have a few vivid memories of my days in Junior High, now called middle school for some idiotic reason.
    Bloody hell, there I go again, rambling on and on. Well getting to 71 wasn’t all fun and games. Every so often, reading this post or talking to somebody face to face, my oxygen starved brain still can try to semi function, sort of.
    Thanks for the memory trip Mr. President.


    Comment by Walter Kronkat — June 2, 2019 @ 12:34 pm | Reply

    • Hey, I am getting to 73 this year, so we are in the same cohort! I liked Beanie and Cecil a great deal (I have some recordings even now) because of the outrageous puns and risqué comments. The “cartoons” made back then, espcially those made for theater audiences, were written in various levels. There were comments directed to the adults involving celebrities and slapstick jokes for the kids. I was a big fan of Bugs Bunny (“Oh carrots are divine, you get a dozen for a dime, its magic!”)

      On Sun, Jun 2, 2019 at 12:34 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — June 2, 2019 @ 12:56 pm | Reply

  2. I’m only 56 and it was the same for me. I remember this with food at our house, “ you don’t have to like it, you just have to eat it”
    It’s shameful how much our kids now want want want. They view life on the devices now instead of living it. Advertising is a finely tuned profession and in this case, they get to work in the most vulnerable minds in the population. What’s interesting is you can just say no, turn everything off and the kids go find something cool to do. Just have to say no and be a parent.


    Comment by jim- — June 2, 2019 @ 2:28 pm | Reply

    • Parenting doesn’t seem to have the preeminence here that it does in, say, France. We are taught nothing and thrown on the mercy of the advice of relatives.

      On Sun, Jun 2, 2019 at 2:28 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:



      Comment by Steve Ruis — June 2, 2019 @ 6:14 pm | Reply

  3. Culture plays a huge role in this. I attended International schools for most of my childhood and the Anglophone children were much more difficult than the rest of us. I grew up being expected to accept whatever was on offer, as a matter of courtesy and also respect for the people in the world who were less fortunate.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by The Pink Agendist — June 2, 2019 @ 5:14 pm | Reply

    • We were told that we didn’t have to eat what was served in that we could go hungry. Many people, we were told, around the world would be very grateful for what we had. I almost never refuse food, even dome of the overcooked vegetables that were served. My Dad did most of the cooking but my mother was from the Midwest and both gardened and canned their own vegetables. Out of fear of botulism, they boiled the canned vegetables for 20 minutes before serving. Imagine the revelation I had when I left home and got properly cooked fresh veg.

      On Sun, Jun 2, 2019 at 5:14 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:



      Comment by Steve Ruis — June 2, 2019 @ 6:13 pm | Reply

    • Feijoada with all the oh-dear-god-no bits?

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by john zande — June 2, 2019 @ 6:57 pm | Reply

      • Everything and anything, in every country we visited. The fortunate thing with feijoada was one normally gets to serve one’s self, or at least you get asked to point at what you want. So no pigs feet or chicken’s feet or anything like that 😀

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by The Pink Agendist — June 3, 2019 @ 4:03 am | Reply

  4. We were made to eat lambs brains… Twice. As if once wasn’t enough.


    Comment by john zande — June 2, 2019 @ 6:55 pm | Reply

    • Made you smarter, no? (Hey, I am an American; I believe all kinds of weird shit.) My parents served boiled spinach as a vegetable one night. It had been boiled (and boiled, and boiled, …) until it was slimy. I taste it and decline to eat more. I was told I had to eat it all … so I did and promptly threw up my dinner right on the table. (Revenge of the nerdy kid!)

      On Sun, Jun 2, 2019 at 6:55 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — June 2, 2019 @ 7:29 pm | Reply

      • If that was the plan, she never said. It was trendy, like fondu… Damn Women’s Weekly! And yes, we had to eat it all, too. Couldn’t leave the table until.


        Comment by john zande — June 3, 2019 @ 5:21 am | Reply

  5. My mother always asked us. She made up menus for the entire week & then a shopping list to go with the menus. Now, of course, not all requests were granted, it wasn’t always in the budget or the proper time of year or whatever. But my mother was a fabulous cook & she liked to bring everyone into the kitchen.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by silverapplequeen — June 3, 2019 @ 4:52 am | Reply

    • Very cool! My father did most of the cooking as he got off his job mid-afternoon, so by the time my mother got home, around 5:30 pm dinner was on the table. Us kids set and cleared the table and washed and dried the dishes afterward. We weren’t around to be consulted as we participated in after school activities or just went out to play after getting home from school.


      Comment by Steve Ruis — June 3, 2019 @ 9:09 am | Reply

  6. I hated liver night! Even mounds of buttery mashed potatoes couldn’t hide that flavor!


    Comment by Holding The Line In Florida — June 3, 2019 @ 6:55 am | Reply

  7. I think that giving kids a choice is important, which is why I ask them if they want to eat what’s for dinner or go to bed hungry.


    Comment by List of X — June 13, 2019 @ 3:05 pm | Reply

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