To all the moms who have amnesia about what it was like to have little kids, I cordially invite you to my house for dinner. When you look at pictures of small children on Facebook and remember fondly when yours were small, I challenge you to recall dinnertime. Think hard now. Do you still feel nostalgic? Really? Liar! Now, are you one of those parents who is always telling younger moms, "It goes by fast, cherish every second?" I'll pause while you slap yourself.
Sure, the way my 22-month-old says the word "orange" by scrunching up her nose and mouth is adorable and the way my 4-year-old wakes up every morning with a zest for life asking if it's a "stay home day" because she can't wait to spend time with her family warms my heart, but mealtime. Oh mealtime.
It starts off innocently enough, with mom and dad each feverishly cutting up chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces, mini bite-sized pieces for the little one. Slice slice slice. Chop chop chop. Smaller. No, smaller than that.
Then drinks. Who wants what? Milk? OK. What, now water? No problem. Back to milk? Fine, milk it is. The giraffe cup? Got it. You meant zebra cup? Crap. Pour it yourself? No, how bout you just hold the cup? Now it's all over the floor. Grab the mop. Shit, now the chicken's cold. Who wants vegetables? No one? Too bad. Eat your broccoli.
All right, we're all seated. The four-year-old needs a napkin. Done. Now the 1-year-old wants one. Done and done. Everyone have everything they need? Heads nod. Good. Take bite one. Cue the dog whining at the door. He's gotta pee. Eat your broccoli while I'm gone.
Out and back. Bite two down the hatch. Did anyone eat their broccoli?
What? More Ranch? Sure. Squirt squirt. There ya go. Oh, you want it mixed with Barbecue sauce? Squirt squirt squirt. Enough? Good. You best eat your broccoli.
Shovel shovel shovel. What are we eating again? Oh yeah, chicken. And what is that sound coming from the preschooler? The Super Why theme song? Oh, wow, I can almost hear it when she's not YELLING ALL THE WORDS WITH HER OUTSIDE VOICE. Now the baby is screaming. What's wrong? Nothing? You're just screaming to hear yourself scream? Great. Cool. Wonderful. Just eat your broccoli, OK.
More shoveling. Sip of wine. No, you can't have mommy's wine. It's not juice. Hide the wine. You still see it? OK, pour it down the sink. See? All gone. Why is there still broccoli on your plate?
Someone dropped their fork. Who was it? Who cares? Now the dog is running off with it. Get back here, you mutt! Wipe it off with a napkin and give it back. For the love of God, why is no one eating their broccoli? Time for the airplane game. Ohhh, it worked. Let's do it again. And again. And again. And OH MY GOD THIS IS TORTURE BUT SHE'S WILLINGLY EATING A VEGETABLE.
My friends, none of this is out of the ordinary. This is a TYPICAL night at home trying to feed two children fairly healthy food while trying to consume some calories ourselves at the same time. Crazy idea, I know.
Listen, I'm not complaining. I get it. They're small. They'll grow up and yell "I hate you, mom" or "I wish I had a different dad," and we'll think back and wish they were small again. But we sure as hell won't wish for a mealtime with them. Because mealtime with kids involves so much cardio and yelling of instructions it should be held at a gym.
So, about that dinner invitation? You free next Tuesday? How do you feel about broccoli?