Parenting: Mealtime

What sick bastard came up with the photo above? This is either a joke or a depiction of how a family looks when they live in a house with a serious nitrus leak. "Honey, I can't stop laughing about that little chicken you made!" "I know the feeling, dear, I haven't stopped laughing for days, but also can't seem to remember how to tie my own shoes! I've lost 20% of my brain cells in one week!"

Dinner at my house is no laughing matter. Much like high school football, I take a few minutes alone to "get my head straight" before a meal with the family. I listen to Metallica, say a prayer, and conclude with a hand clap, shouting, "Let's do this shit!" as I saddle up next to my wife and two kids.

3 minutes later, the Mrs and I have surrendered. Dinner is over. The kids have extended their winning streak to 2,346 to 9. 

There's fish on the floor, a fork in the living room, ketchup on the wall, ketchup on the chair, ketchup on my wife, and -- oh, shit, now there's ketchup on the sofa. My oldest son turned trying to stay into his chair into an entire Cirque du Soleil routine, somehow avoiding heartburn while he ate sweet potato fries upside down. My youngest son ate a dinner consisting entirely of Triscuits (impressive since when we started dinner his plate had nothing but fish and vegetables on it). And as happens after many of our children's dinner-time victories, my wife makes her dual-pronged, "I-can't-do-this-anymore + why-do-I-even-try-to-make-nice-food?" concession speech while I speculate how cranberry juice got on the ceiling and mutter, "Jeeeesus." 

It's possible that serving food to little kids may lead to a diagnosis of PTSD. Like one day I'll be telling a shrink, "I should have seen it coming, Doc. We were making chit-chat the night before, I told the kids we'd have strawberry yogurt in the morning. But when morning came, they're at the table, and I realized we only had enough yogurt for one kid ... then everything went black."  

But in today's nanny-state, if I feed my kids nothing but chips and ice cream, people are reading me the riot act, saying things like, "They wouldn't be so constipated if they ate a few vegetables, Mike." Mind your own fucking business! I'll make the decisions around here! 

There's also the left-wing peer pressure machine that churns out photos like the one above, where a family sits up at their farmhouse-inspired table for a meal of chicken, muffins, broccoli and carrots, green beans, carrots, and cauliflower and broccoli. Seriously? Two broccoli dishes and two carrot dishes? Does this family have a certain number of bowls they need to use at every meal? And a gravy boat. Holy shit. I'd love to see either of my kids with unrestricted access to a gravy boat. If they have that kind of control over a high-sodium condiment, they flip the script and suddenly the condiment becomes the main course. "We're having gravy tonight, kids! ... And maybe a little chicken if we have any in the fridge." My kid's poor piece of chicken better be wearing a life jacket if it wants to stay above the brown tide.

At least kids keep you on your toes. They spend the afternoon clumsily pawing at kitchen drawers and the fridge like a herd of zombie monkeys, claiming they're "so hungry," then when dinner time arrives you learn that their favorite food from last week is now "disgusting," they actually wanted water even though they said they wanted milk, and -- "Hey, is that a fluffy white dog outside? C'mon, Dad, let's go look at that fluffy white dog! I wanna play baseball -- Hey, let go of that tractor, that's mine ... That's mine! Stop it!!!" 

And if kids didn't keep me on my toes, constantly guessing and anticipating anything, I'd have time for relaxing and hobbies. Yuck!