It makes me laugh when I read interviews with celebrities on parenting. They say things like ‘we make sure we’re all sitting down for dinner at the end of the day. That’s our time together.’
Well, in my house that ‘time’ together would be about 5 minutes. And it’s not necessarily ‘fun’.
There’s the whole ‘what to have for dinner’ conundrum. Which is its own beast. Maybe if you’re a celebrity you have a chef who takes care of that little issue. I’ve been trying to do better where dinner is concerned. But it’s all dependent on whether the baby needs to be held or will entertain himself in the bouncy seat. Or take a nap. If he doesn’t…it’s toast and sliced apples all around.
Then the dinner plans hinge upon the bigger two: how well they can entertain themselves without drawing blood or rupturing (my) ear drums. Monday night this was particularly heinous, which is why I ended up with flank steak and charred broccoli stirfry. With two sides of tantrums.
I sent each kid to the ‘naughty step’ more times than I care to remember. Except for the baby, who got so tired of all the noise he took a nap on the couch.
For the first half of last night’s entertainment, the older Johnson boys could be found running around in a circle, each holding on to one end of a piece of string. It was rather amusing, initially, the two boys running around in a high tech world with a low tech piece of string. Something you might expect from two young boys running around in poorest Africa. My first thought was ‘cute’ and then…’we should maybe get them a Wii. Or something.’ I can only imagine the Gort inviting a friend from school over for a playdate. And showing him the ins and outs of…string running.
‘You hold this end and I hold this end and now we run around in a circle. Isn’t it fun!’
Of course, ‘string running’ is really just a thinly veiled opportunity for the oldest to run into the younger one from behind and push him to the ground. Purely accidental, I’m sure. But, of course, it results in a lot of tears. And a lot of ‘I don’t know why he’s crying’. Even though I kind of know by now how these games go.
When the string game had run its course, they moved on to costumes. A fellow Kindergarten mom brought me a couple of Halloween costumes yesterday, because I’d told her I still didn’t have a costume for the Hen. So she brought me a Batman and Superman outfit. Because her boys are going to be a skeleton and a psycho clown this year.
I’d made the mistake of looking at the costumes in front of the blondies so naturally they were clamoring to change into superhero gear.
The Hen became Batman (‘Ba-ma’). In a costume several sizes too big. It killed me – the way he insisted on wearing the cape, walking around while shaking his head like a circus elephant. Probably because the ‘eye holes’ came to his nose. Instead of his eyes.
The Gort donned the Superman outfit. Even though he’s going to be a firefighter on actual Halloween. It took about ten minutes to get them into the costumes. And they played around happily for about five minutes. And then fought like dogs for the next five.
As I was trying to capture their costumed cuteness, the meatballs (for the meatballs in red curry sauce) were cooked a little longer than necessary. What started out as a twenty minute meal, turned into an hour and a half of intermittent cooking and cleaning and serving.
‘I don’t like that.’ My oldest pronounced. Before he’d even taken a bite. ‘I’ll still try it,’ he compromised when I gave him the evil eye, ‘but I probably won’t like it.’
The professor walked through the door around 6. Right as we were sitting down to eat. I wonder if it’s a coincidence that all his classes go until 6 this semester? I don’t think so. I imagine he specifically talked to his department chair about taking any and all classes occurring over the dinner hour.
‘This is too spicy,’ the Gort announced. ‘How many more bites do I have to eat?’ The Hen ate his meatball but refused the rice. ‘I wan mo’ he declared with a plate full of rice still in front of him. When another meatball did not appear on his plate, he hopped out of his seat and climbed onto my lap. And ate all of my meatballs.
‘How was school today?’ the professor asked his son.
‘I don’t remember’ he replied.
About seven minutes after we started, both boys had left the table.
Family dinner: such a sacred and bonding ritual in our home.