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Mom wins a skirmish in the dinnertime war

Submitted by on Sunday, 1 June 2008 No Comment

Originally published May 21, 2007, thehive.modbee.com   

I’m not good at sneaky and clever. I prefer to hit things head-on, and when you’re dealing with small people, that usually results in getting your head bashed in. I  have a perpetual concussion these days.

I don’t do spontaneous well either, unless I have plenty of time to plan it.

So it always astounds me when I’m able to pull off something with even a smidge of finesse. Tonight, I did sneaky, spontaneous and  finesse. Hey, maybe I’m figuring out this Mom gig after all.

Motherhood Muses, please don’t take that as a challenge. I’ve had all the smiting this week I can stand. And besides that, I might well have re-learned something valuable here, a long-forgotten lesson about how twisty, curvy back roads sometimes get you there just as quickly as the freeway.

The sneaky, clever plot began accidentally, as Big Guy kicked off his nightly harangue roughly 2.6 seconds after he buckled his car seat. “Mommy, what are we having for dinner?” The question’s usually a trap.

“Well, I thought I’d let you pick today. We can have fish sticks or grilled cheese. Which would you like?”

 “Nothing. I don’t WANT dinner.”

“That’s fine,” I shrugged. Not that he could see me, but it made me feel better. “You’re going to get awfully hungry before breakfast, though.”

It was in the back of my mind to fix the fish anyway, but then I snapped. While I am determined to serve the guys healthy meals, there’s a Grand Canyon-size gap between serving and getting Big Guy in particular to eat. The nightly mealtime melee had made me a Mommy Flambe.

So I decided to give up. Let it go. Wimp out for once. I turned the guys lose with a short “Thomas” DVD while I cut up a dangerously ripe flat of strawberries in the kitchen. Bad Mommy demerits for TV as baby sitter, but our back yard is flooded with stagnant water, so there really weren’t many other options.

Then funny things started happening. There was a tug at my shorts and a tiny voice pleading “taw! taw!” – that’s Little Guy-speak for “strawberry.” I plopped one in the outstretched hands, and he went back in the living room, juice dripping down his face.

Which drew Big Guy into the kitchen, lest he miss out. “Can I have a strawberry?”

 For the next 10 minutes a steady stream of red-faced moochers made the living room-kitchen commute.

Obviously, they were hungry, but anything that smacked of the “d” word would have jacked Big Guy up again.

I spied a fresh loaf of bread and remembered I’d made olive oil-balsamic vinegar salad dressing the night before. I quickly cut up some cheese and arranged it all on a platter. Voila! Instant dinner, no stove or microwave involved.

“What’s this?” Big Guy asked suspiciously as I put the platter on the living room floor. “Dinner?”

“Nope. We’re not having dinner. We’re having a picnic inside!”

They couldn’t shove food in their mouths quickly enough. The beauty of it was, it was a fairly balanced meal, eaten without a word of griping.

Tonight, I had the happy little family dinner I often fantasize about. I just didn’t have it at the table. 

Copyright 2007 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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