FILED IN: Humor Essays

Kids and Dinner Time Chaos

Try to just go with the flow and be amused

Kids and Dinner Chaos
© Can Stock Photo Inc. / photography33

The husband and I don’t get out much. Who in their right mind would volunteer to watch four kids? And God knows we’re too cheap to hire a sitter. We’ve pretty much surmised we’ll not have another grown-up outing until we’re wearing Depends. At least it’s something to look forward to — except the adult diaper part.

But heck, who needs to go out and pay for dinner in a place where you can’t belch at the table, or a movie where you can’t pause it to get up and take a piss? Why, no! Don’t do that! Just mosey up to the dinner table here at our house, and prepare for mealtime entertainment brought to you by true amateurs!

It always begins the same. I’m cooking, a chore I detest at the very least, and someone skips, runs, twirls, or crawls into the kitchen to inquire about the evening’s menu. The typical response from me is that I’m cooking something dead. This is met with a wrinkled up nose and a generally disgusted look. What? Do they prefer to eat their dinner while it’s still alive?

When I voice this question, the nine-year-old goes into her “Poor Animals” spiel. God, don’t try to take her into Gander Mountain to look at shotguns. Not only is she unimpressed by guns and ammunition, she is horrified by the stuffed game that decorate the store. Now, I understand her feelings on the matter, but at the same time, I can’t let this chicken die in vain, so I have to eat him.

My apologies to you animal rights activists and vegetarians.

The cooking is done, and I get to fill four plates, besides my own, which takes a while because I have to cut the chicken up into forty gazillion pieces so the little ones won’t choke, though they’ll find a way to do it just the same. Places are set, everyone gathers around and argues for 45 minutes about whose turn it is to lead prayer.

The three-year-old doesn’t care, she’s just going to eat. At least until after the prayer is over, then she decides she doesn’t want to eat and would like to get down. Nope, sorry. I just stuffed your starving, whiny ass into that seat, so now you’re going to sit. We sit and chew for 30 seconds before the seven-year-old announces that a girl in her class barfed at school today. The eldest immediately turns white and drops her fork. Her sister laughs that she thinks barf is the “F” word. Yes, my dinner tastes better as well.

The boy begins spelling T-H-O-M-A-S at the top of his lungs, over, and over, and over. We remind him to eat his dinner, but before he stops spelling, his older sister burps from her heels up. He is very much amused by this gaseous expulsion and begins fake burps of his own. The toddler is also amused by this and begins adding her own extremely strange rude noises to the mix. At least until she inadvertently touches the boy’s chair.

This crime is met by a shrieking, “He’s touching me!” (The boy doesn’t get his pronouns right most of the time.) Finding joy in this truly exciting way to irritate her brother, she continues to reach over and lightly touch his chair, then draw back quickly, before he stabs her with his spoon. Husband on one end, and I on the other, have to get up in order to put an end to the beginnings of World War III.

Crisis avoided, our son returns to spelling T-H-O-M-A-S. The three-year-old resumes whining that she’s done and wants down. Fine, beat it. She scampers away, probably to retrieve something from her dress-up box, only to return with it and beg one of us to dress her in whatever it was she got. The boy stops spelling so he can focus his full attention on picking his nose. The nine-year-old takes advantage of this silent moment by informing us that she drank some Kefir (basically watery yogurt) at Grandma’s because her belly hurt and she was farting too much.

Her sister decides to tell a joke. “How do they make cheese? They cut it!” See, these are not professionals. Nonetheless, we laugh, because damn, it’s funny. She then announces that her brother eats his boogers sometimes, which causes us to turn quickly to him because he was previously digging for nuggets.

He’s drawing, with a fork, in the leftover cheese puddle from the mac & cheese he just ate. I’m grateful it’s just swirly things he’s drawing, as he recently went through a phase in which he delighted in drawing butts.

The toddler returns, having dressed herself in a Tinkerbell costume, purple wings, and a pair of gray, fuzzy mouse ears. She asks for cheese. We direct her to her sister, the known authority on that very thing.

After another evening of dining excitement, they all run off to the living room to dance like a groups of drunken hippies, and we congratulate ourselves on saving $50 — if not our sanity.