Thursday, April 3, 2008

Dinner 911

I wonder if the “bewitching hour” means the same thing to every family. Is that hour between 4 and 5 pm really this crazy at other people’s homes?

If you were to zoom in on our little world right around dinner time, this is what you might see: Mike and I running around the kitchen, trying to keep Finn from breaking things as we manage the various pieces and parts of what we’ll eat, and finally, forcefully buckling him into his chair so that we can get the last few things together. Even though I don’t like to do it, I inevitably put some form of food in front of him before anyone else sits down and an imaginary clock somewhere begins ticking down the 3-5 minutes that he will sit at the table. Every night I race to get it all ready so that we have those same glorious 3-5 minutes to sit and relax and God forbid – talk, but each night I sabotage my plans and give in.

Meanwhile, for some reason I will never understand, my girls shift to hyper performance mode. They are impatiently dancing around the kitchen, bumping into us repeatedly, asking for our attention to hear the latest Hannah Montana number performed. We continually shoo them out of our way, focused on the task at hand - dinner. When I am as close as possible to having everything dished up and ready to go, I ask them to sit. They do, and we field at least 5 more change requests while trying to serve ourselves and get seated.

The second – I mean the very second – that I put the first forkful in my mouth; Finn will endure no more of this dining nonsense and wants out. He takes everything off his tray and teeters bowls and cups on the edge of the table – sometimes they stay, sometimes they fall (much to the dog’s happiness!) He then pulls his tray off and throws it to the floor. Next, he removes the back of his toddler chair and ditches that as well. The entire short while he is doing this, he is emitting his "all done" sounds. I can’t begin to imitate them, but they're not actually pleasing to the ears. And he knows how to say “all done”; he just refuses to do so at dinner time.

Throughout all this, Logan and Riley are still trying to sing and dance, right from their seats. They refuse to sit on their actual butts, barely balancing, squatted on their toes and rocking all over the place. They repeatedly drop things, bump into each other and argue about it, all because they just plain refuse to sit down. We attempt to manage this situation and teach good manners, but the same issues arrise each day. We are getting ready to remove their chairs from the table.

Mike and I ridiculously make small attempts to talk during this circus, but give up quickly and shove our food down our throats fast, knowing that one of us will have to clean up the potted plant Finn just dumped or get him away from the toilet or the latest attraction, the computer. The vegetable-milk battle begins yet again with Logan and Riley and they leave the table “too full” only to return to our sides within 30 minutes telling us how hungry they are.

Last night my mom was over and bought us Portillo’s for dinner. I didn’t want it, I’ve really been trying hard to eat healthy, but after a day of struggle-filled doctor visits with Riley (ugh – foreign body in her eye - scratched cornea), I had a raging headache and welcomed the comfort food. I was so thankful for the extra hand getting everyone settled in for their 3-5 minutes, that I devoured (with a capital “D”) my beef sandwich and fries. Nice. As my mom sat there amid this regular weeknight chaos that she hasn’t had the joy of witnessing lately, she leaned over and whispered, “Do you and Mike ever talk?”

“Nope.” I responded. Not these days!

The plan… some form of date night this weekend…. No matter what.


n8 said...

Oh...there are many parts to my day that I know will be difficult but the witching hour is dreadful. I do the same things...feed them a little snack to get them to stay in their seats until dinner is served (such a bad idea), require them to stay seated (I am lucky if it happens), and try to get them to try everything on their plate (which usually causes crying and whining). Meanwhile, I try to stuff my face as fast as I possibly can. The one thing we do WITHOUT fail each night is our 'happy-mad-sad.' Each person has to go around the table and explain what made them happy, mad and sad that day. Sometimes we throw in 'what did you do nice for someone today?' The kids LOVE it. Campbell is always the one to say 'happy-sad' first. Although nothing else with her limited vocabulary. Gage always wants to go first. And, Briggs is fairly predictable on what he picks. Try make keep them in their seat for longer and it is a great tradition.

Here is something to relish at least have your partner with you. I am so excited to finally have Tim home so that we can share in the most crazy moments of our day together.


mary said...

I sat at my desk trying to control the laughs that your entry was forcing and finally just gave in. Since I have witnessed first hand the "bewitching hour" as you call it, I was able to connect a visual with your well-chosen words and it was too powerful to just smile through.

It reminded me of years ago and a certain scrambled egg dinner, too involved to relate now, but I am sure you remember. As I read on, I continued to be reminded of countless memories of my own and my friend’s children too.

So this is parenthood? Well, part of it - and no one escapes. Truth is – no one would want to – ever.

Too soon- a sweet serenade from your Hanna Montana wannabees (teetering on their chairs) will be "upon request only" rather then provided endlessly and the "menacing/chuckle worthy" antics of your curly-haired little guy will fade and you will remember these days - years from now - and the memory will make you smile. Enjoy!