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Dear Flora: Leftovers and PTA

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  • Tip Bones

Dear Flora, 

My boyfriend is great until it comes to food. The man will not eat leftovers, but also does not cook, so it is takeout or me cooking every night. He makes faces like a toddler when I try and do leftovers for dinner, and lately I just give up reheat something for myself and leave him to order take out for himself. This wouldn’t be a huge issue, but take out is expensive. I want to build a life with this man, but it seems like it's either always going to be expensive (takeout) or exhausting (me cooking every night). How do I get him to grow up?

-Picky Eater Problems

Dear PEP,

My first thought after reading your letter is that there may be a reason that your boyfriend refuses to eat leftovers, despite your valiant efforts to cook for him. Has he said anything specific about his leftover aversion, or has it been a topic he avoids? The reason could be quite simple and fixable, such as a texture or aftertaste, or more complicated, such as a childhood full of leftovers he never liked. In any case, your journey to better and more affordable eating begins with a difficult conversation.

If it's a simple reason, perhaps you can offer to tackle the problem. Microwaves can make food mushy, so perhaps he would like food reheated in the oven. If a plastic aftertaste lingers and he can't deal, maybe you can invest in some glass containers. I would also start looking at what foods do-- and don't-- reheat well. As a rule, starchy foods like pasta, potatoes, and bread reheat well, and vegetables don't. Take it step by step, and if your budget can stand it, commit to a set number of takeout days per week.

Dear Flora, 

I have recently moved from a city loft to the suburbs to get my kids into a better school system (also 6-year-olds aren’t meant for loft living). The move has definitely brought changes to our lives, but I am adjusting with one exception: the PTA. Now, I have done PTA at my daughter’s previous school and loved being involved, but this PTA is so different. I can’t seem to find my footing. We are the first queer couple in this suburb, and it seems these moms definitely don’t want me, or my wife, involved in the school. Maybe I need to adjust myself a bit, maybe I got too used to the inherent diversity that comes with city living, but either way I can not seem to get myself included in this new suburban PTA. I just want to be involved in my daughter’s school and am so frustrated. How do I find my place here?

-Beckies Be Beckying

Dear BBB,

I'm always glad to see parents take such an active role in their children's lives! Unfortunately, much like children, PTAs and other parent groups can make new members feel excluded, even when the goal is supposed to be supporting the kids and their school. When your family doesn't fit the expectations of the group, nobody wins: the PTA doesn't have you on their team, and you don't get the active role you want in your daughter's school.

I have found that oftentimes, when a place isn't made for us, we have to make one ourselves. Now I don't mean you should push your way into the PTA, but if the meetings are open, it may be your best option to show up and be your best and most friendly self. It's difficult to exclude people who are genuinely kind and active in a community, so taking volunteer opportunities at the school, bringing snacks to meetings, and actively listening in the meetings might just take you far. You may find that suddenly more parents welcome you!

It's absolutely unfair to exclude you when all you want is to help the school, just as they do. Their reasoning could vary from religious to personal, and I don't think that confronting them directly will help your case, as well-deserved as a callout may be. Ultimately, if the group is hostile to you and your family, it may not be worth it to join. Think of the PTA like a clique: you might be able to blend in with kindness or presence, but some cliques are just bad news.

That's all for this week! See you next time, and don't forget to submit your questions!

*questions may have been edited for clarity