At some point during our foray into parenthood, I turned into my mother. This is not a bad thing, per se, just surprising when I open my mouth and hear my own childhood come flying out.
When do I hear it the most? Mealtimes!
You know, that “fun” time where you beg, bribe, blackmail, plead, bargain and scream for your child to eat the food in front of them, only for them to tell you that the food on your own plate is “better”… The exact same food that’s on their plate, just cut into bigger bites and not in a Handy Manny bowl.
Of course, let’s not forget all of the times where they request a specific food – “Ima! I want Wacky Mac! Please!” – only to tell you that they don’t like it anymore after you slaved over the hot stove, giving yourself a papercut in the process of opening the box, to make it for them. How many packages of open snacks that they just had to have are laying around your homes right now? How many discarded Cheerios, wayward granola bar bits and cracker crumbs can you find stuck to your floors, socks and furniture?
Trying to eat a meal with young children is basically a recipe for heartburn, grey hair and therapy. Marathon sessions of “No more tv until every bite is gone!”, “No more dessert EVER!”, “Please eat! I made it just for you because I love you!” and “Fine. Starve then.” every time you sit down to enjoy a “nice family meal”.
Then there are the other meals. The “adult” meals. The Friday night Summer Shabbos dinners where the kids eat early and go to bed, leaving Ima and Aba to eat their meal in peace. The, “go ahead, honey, you eat first and I’ll watch the kids” meals where you cut your food into tiny child-sized bites just to make your solo meal last longer. You chew that brisket 52 times, take slow, tiny sips of water and wipe your mouth after each bite. You savour salad with dressing, pasta with sauce on top of it and fruit juice (read wine) like it’s your last meal. And it very well could be, because Peanut over there just threw his pasta on the floor and shot your blood pressure up to cartoon character levels of crazy.
But where’s dessert, you ask?
The Boogie Man already ate it… Hiding in the corner of the kitchen that the kids can’t see into, thanks to the cleverly placed microwave and that wonderful, magnificent baby gate.