Meals are the absolute strangest time of the day. I suppose breakfast is the exception. At breakfast, my kids groggily trudge straight to the table at 5:50 am to find a Toaster Strudel that my wife has artistically enhanced with frosting designs. The other 2-10 meals my boys eat per day happen when they happen, and the experiences are often surreal. Their hunger pangs seem to come on with the same strength and unpleasantness as Harry from Dumb and Dumber’s date-delaying laxative-induced shitsplosion.
When my kids realize they are hungry, the start to freak the hell out. It’s junkie behavior. First they passive-agressively open the fridge in a way that will make every glass container in the door compartments rattle together. Next they state their hunger in a matter-of-fact way that screams “I’m King Joffrey and you are my lowly serf.” Then you ask what they want, and they start the negotiations at such a high bar (“Lobster!”) that you can’t even meet in the middle without needing to enroll in chef school. When they see that you’re frazzled, they throw the “McDonalds” bomb out there just so you can say “no,” and they can respond by telling you that you never let them have anything they want, ever. Not once.
When you finally make the choice for them and start to prepare Ramen, selling them on the idea that they’re actually eating worms, they do everything they can to make it an extremely dangerous situation. That’s when the yelling starts.
BACK AWAY FROM THE STOVE TOP. DO YOU ACTUALLY WANT TO GET BURNED? SIT AT THE TABLE. NO. I SAID SIT. NOW. YOU WON’T SIT? THEN I’M NOT MAKING YOU ANYTHING. STOP CRYING. GET OFF THE FLOOR. FINE. STAY ON THE FLOOR. KIDS IN CHINA EAT LUNCH ON THE FLOOR ALL THE TIME, ONLY WITHOUT THE LUNCH PART.
When I finally do serve the food, whatever it may be, it’s usually met with an “I don’t like it.” At this point you force the first bite into their mouth like they’re an infant who hasn’t figured out breastfeeding yet, and they are suddenly bathed in with the epiphany that they were in fact ravenous, the food is fine, and all is well in the world. At this point, in the midst of the calm, one of them spills their drink, and I rage-faint.
Sometimes, when I’m able, I give in to their stranger lunch requests. Today was one of those days. My oldest wanted a slice of cold pizza, a peanut butter and jelly soda (it’s as gross as it sounds) and a piece of fudge. He also requested to be accompanied by Iron Man, who apparently has nowhere more important to be than at my child’s side, watching him ingest a meal that Michelle Obama would personally smack me for serving. I was able to capture a photo of him relishing his victory. Smiles like this are worth the madness.