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Single parent dating guide, making breakfast

picky eaters..
picky eaters..
Photo by Handout/Getty Images

Two incredible kids. Loving, thoughtful, generous, smart; perhaps overly so. They have accepted the fact you are dating their mother. To make sure you are serious about it though, you will have to pass all of several tests.

Some of the tests are simple: Do you like cats? Will you sponsor semiannual Disneyland excursions? Others a bit of a challenge: Where do you come down on the muddy cleats vs. leather upholstery conflict? Can you sit through back-to-back episodes of Dancing With the Stars without bleeding from the eyes?

The interview process is not unfair, remember these are good kids. You should be able to handle a little sweat and toil anyway, if you are truly committed. But what you aren't prepared for, what they don't warn you about in the relationship books is the unspoken examination. The true measure of a man's soul, what separates Bill Cosby from some worthless schlub, is how he performs at breakfast.

What would you like for breakfast?

First mistake. Children, sharks and rottweilers have an inherent sense for weakness. Come from a position of uncertainty and you may as well pack your toothbrush, 'cause you're history. Never give the impression you don't know exactly what you are doing. Asking even well-meaning questions reveals that you do not have the proper experience to be in these children's lives, in their home, and certainly not in their kitchen making dietary decisions. Your job, before you ever face a breakfast-preparation situation, is to pay attention. What do the kids like to eat? What do they commonly have for meals and snacks that they enjoy? What do they talk about? Also, importantly, what are they allowed to have? Speaking of Bill Cosby, you may be tempted to dole out doughnuts and frosted flakes, though it does little good to win over the kids at the expense of their mother's approval.

Part of the paying attention is to commit every minute detail to memory. Does one child like their bagel toasted four seconds longer than the other child? Will one of them absolutely not drink out of a red cup? Not knowing or heeding even a single bit of relevance is tantamount to serving liver. Putting the improper amount of butter on a pancake will get it sent back. But, deliver eggs and toast on the same plate and find yourself staring down the barrel of a hunger strike.

While attention to detail is important, anticipation will prove as pointless as the application of logic. For every one of the children's disparate and bizarre eating habits you figure out, there are two you can never know, and three more that'll change without notice. The child who only eats waffles now suddenly hates waffles, while the other has a self-diagnosed cereal intolerance. One doesn't like jelly anymore, one has decided she's a vegetarian, and neither child likes the smell the oven makes now. Pour too much milk in the glass, they won't drink it. Pour too little, and it get's warm too fast. Strawberries that are too firm today will be too squishy tomorrow, and orange slices are an unacceptable substitute regardless.

The most important thing to remember, don't take any if this personally. Even if a child could appreciate how hard it is to poach a perfect egg, the fact that they just stare at it is not meant to upset you. The small humans sitting in the kitchen are under the impression that you are meant to put a plate of food in front of them, and they are to determine it's worth. Unfortunately, their impression of what you may be capable of is tainted by the fact they'd rather be back in bed or watching television. Plus, they are aware of the existence of doughnuts and frosted flakes and everything on the table is being judged by how far it falls short of being those things.

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