No Child of Mine

Matt had, in my opinion, the worst possible schedule this past weekend.  Both Saturday and Sunday he had to work from 10:30-7:00.  Early enough that he couldn’t really do anything before he had to work and late enough that the kids would be going to bed so we couldn’t do very much after he got home either.

So Sunday night, knowing that Matt wouldn’t be home until late, I fed the kids dinner without him.  I decided that spaghetti would be both fairly easy to make, and easy for Matt to warm up when he got home from work.  I knew I had all the stuff to make it since I had just been to the store a few days earlier.

I got started a little late on it because the kids and I had spent a few hours working on our Christmas tree that afternoon and it was getting close to 5:00 before I realized the time and rushed to get dinner started.  Once I got the water on the stove I began looking through the freezer for the sausages.  I knew I had some because the last time I went to the store I had bought them out completely because sausage was on sale.

But after a 10 minute search through both my indoor freezer, and my deep freeze in the garage I could not locate the sausages.  I finally gave up and got into the refrigerator.  We still had some leftover sausage from when we’d had spaghetti a few days earlier (yes, we eat spaghetti about twice a week these days.  It’s cheap, it’s easy, and it’s one of the few things none of my kids will complain about eating).  There were three left from that dinner which would be enough to satisfy Brendan and Kaylee (Cam doesn’t eat the sausage) but not Matt and I.

So plan B.  I dug some chicken tenders out of the freezer and decided to make some chicken parmesan for Matt and myself.  That takes a bit longer so I decided I would just wait and eat with Matt when he got home.  So after 30 minutes I had spaghetti boiling on the stove, sausage warming in the microwave, garlic cheese bread browning in the oven and things were starting to smell really good in my house.

As everything was finishing up for the kids dinner I put the chicken parm into the oven to bake, knowing it would be ready to come out just minutes before Matt arrived home.  With that taken care of I began dishing up dinner for the kids and called them to the table.

Now, the rules for dinner have changed a bit throughout the years to fit our situation at the time.  When Brendan was little, and our only child we would serve his meal first then worry about getting ourselves served and sat down at the table.  This allowed us to get our meal served more expediently without Brendan underfoot and, at the time, he took forever to get through a meal because he hated to get his hands dirty at all and would do all he could to keep them clean.

Later, when Cameron came along we kept with that trend because it was easier to keep both the baby and the toddler out from underfoot while trying to get my and Matt’s dinner onto the table.  Eventually, as the boys got a little older, what ended up happening was that the boys would start eating and by the time I got ready to sit down they would want seconds, or a refill, or would have spilled something.  It only required one parent and 9 times out of 10 Matt would sit down to eat while I took care of the need and all three of my boys would be done or almost done eating before I even got to sit down.

When Kaylee came along it got even worse, until I finally put my foot down and said things needed to change.  Nowadays, the kids are served their food first, but not allowed to eat it until all five of us have been served and are sitting at the table.  That way I can at least have a few bites of my food before the predictable calls for seconds, refills, and spills begin.

On this particular night, since I wasn’t planning to eat until Matt came home, I served the three kids their food, told them I was going to turn on their dinner movie, and then come back to serve drinks.  The dinner movie took me a couple of minutes to set up because I was wrestling with an uncooperative DVD menu, but overall I wasn’t gone from the kitchen all that long.  Despite that, by the time I came back into the kitchen to pour drinks Brendan was saying he was finished and wanted more food.

I’m not really sure when this all started, but lately Brendan has been absolutely inhaling his food.  Almost no one gets anything to eat before he wants seconds.  I’ve decided that he must not be my child, because no child of mine could possibly eat food that quickly.  I admit, when he asked me for seconds that night I was a bit frustrated with the situation.  In the amount of time it took to turn on the DVD player and fast forward through all the garbage they put on before the main feature he had eaten and entire plateful of spaghetti, two pieces of garlic bread, and a full piece of sausage.

I told him he’d have to at least wait until I got through serving drinks.  Well that was a mistake, because I served the drinks, and then Brendan’s seconds and it was about that time that Cameron finished his dinner and wanted seconds as well.  So back to the stove I went to serve up yet another plate of dinner.  It was at this point that a portion of my own dinner got finished cooking.

Whenever I make chicken parmesan I serve steamed broccoli with it because I love the two together.  Kaylee adores steamed broccoli.  If I would let her she’d eat the entire bag of it by herself and eat nothing else for dinner.  She saw me take it out of the microwave and instantly demanded some.  Well, how can I turn down an open request for vegetables.  Most of the time I have to basically force the kids mouths open just to get a morse or two of veggies into them.

But it meant another trip through the kitchen to serve my kiddos yet again.  Once I had her broccoli served Brendan was asking for a third helping of food.  I won’t deny it, I lost my temper at this point in the evening.  I was frustrated because in the 20 minutes (and that is seriously all that had passed at this point) my kids had been eating dinner I had made 5 separate trips into the kitchen for more food, all without a single break in between them.  I was also feeling a bit irked that while Mr. Brendan had happily gulped down two, going on three, helpings of food I still hadn’t had a single bite and was starving half to death.

Not that that part of it was his fault, and despite my irritation I tried very hard not to take that out on him.  However, I denied him thirds explaining that Matt and I hadn’t eaten yet and that I wanted to make sure I saved enough for our dinner before I served him a third helping.  Cameron chose that moment to pipe up and ask for another serving of bread.

Well, bread was the one thing I had been short on while making dinner.  I only had enough for one serving per person.  I had explained that to the kids when they had sat down for dinner, but evidently Cameron had forgotten.  I told him there was no more bread and he looked into the kitchen to see the pan with two more servings sitting on it and said, “yes there is.  I see it right there on the pan.”  It took all of my willpower to be calm as I explained AGAIN that Matt and I hadn’t yet eaten and that some of the food needed to be saved until we had a chance to eat.

Both boys left the table disgruntled and swearing they were still starving.  I offered them both lots and lots of steamed broccoli.  They refused, and that seemed to help some as they didn’t want to admit they were hungry and be offered broccoli again.  Finally Matt texted to let me know he was on his way home.  I started dishing up our dinner and found there was plenty of spaghetti left for the boys to have thirds.

I fixed Brendan the last of the sausage with his helping of spaghetti, and gave Cameron one of Kaylee’s two pieces of bread since she had filled up on broccoli and hadn’t wanted it.  We finally got through the feeding frenzy of dinner and I was ready to hit the sack for the night even though it wasn’t even yet 8:00.

The next night we instituted a new rule to the dinner table.  Now no one is allowed to ask for seconds until mom and dad have at least finished their first helpings.  That suggestion did not go over well with the boys, but our answer was to eat slower and they won’t have to wait as long.  We’ll see how well this new rule works out.  Maybe I will finally be able to eat all of my dinner while it’s still hot.  I’m not holding my breath.


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