Sometime around 5:30 the four of us huddle around our plastic folding table in the kitchen to have “dinner.” We aren’t so poor that we have to use outdoor tables inside, it’s just an oddly shaped space that apparently only fits furniture from the Rubbermaid collection. We could have one built for us, but that costs more than our house.
The table is really supposed to be used outside where the grass can hold it in place. On wood floors, it glides around like an air hockey puck, meaning one of us is always too far from or too close to our food. Our 2 year-old, who sits in a highchair, is the only stationary member of the dinner party, but he’s usually too busy taking his shirt off and spreading milk around with his hand-zamboni to let us use him as an anchor.
It’s supposed to be a family dinner – at least I think it is – but somehow Lindsay never makes enough food for the grown-ups. Last night, my rations were 1 “fish nugget,” 17 peas, and a small dollop of cinnamon applesauce. It reminded me of the meals my grandma used to make my grandpa the week after he had quadruple bypass surgery. My wife didn’t even have a plate. She was eating applesauce out of a plastic container while trying to convince our 4 year old that his peas weren’t too hot.
“Why do the kids have more food than me?” I asked jokingly. “Why don’t you just say, ‘Hey, I made dinner, but there isn’t any for you.'”
She laughed because she knows I don’t actually care, and would rather ridiculous things happen than for life to be boring and predictable.
“Oh, is that not enough?” she responded sarcastically, “I figured we could just finish what they don’t eat.”
That’s what it’s come to apparently; we gobble our children’s leftovers like unloved basement-dwelling stepchildren in a fairy tale. Sometimes I even eat stuff off their plates as I’m putting them in the dishwasher. We’re scavengers in our own house – watching in hunger and desperation, hoping our kids accidentally leave some food for us which we’ll scoop violently into our mouths with bare hands like forest people.
Some couples have dinner after their kids go to bed. That seems nice and romantic, but unfortunately our 4 year-old crashes at 7:30 and our 2 year-old is usually up partying his balls off until around 9:30, and since this isn’t Spain, we eat dinner before 10pm.
I guess we’ll just continue to have a kids meal at 5, and then after both kids are asleep, eat pie while watching Enlightened until we fall asleep holding forks.