Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Time to Eat

I often find myself calling breakfast, lunch, or supper, breakfast.
'Just come and eat whatever meal this is.' I tell Max.
Oli has no choice; he's strapped in, a tray before him, with a spoon sticking out of the food in question.
The performance is about to start.
This evening it is cold chicken, a slice of avocado, some potato salad, a fish cake, some cheese and a few cherry tomatoes - anything that is still edible in the fridge.  This does not go unnoticed.
'Actually chicken is not my favourite.' Max chimes in.
Fortunately he decides he likes potato salad, then gags and complains I've left the skins on. At what point do I insist on table manners?  I hear myself become the mother I promised never to be.
'Just eat your food, and stop whining.'
Slowly the noise level begins to rise.
Carefully, Max starts to take his supper apart. Skins are peeled, fish cakes dissected, avocado squashed.
I try to help Oli get the spoon to his mouth without large dollops ending up on the floor. But the child who needs help, loudly refuses it; the other, who can quite easily put a fork to his mouth, is noisily demanding it.
'I neeeed you! I don't like the skins!'
The one ear I had on the radio is now reluctantly and firmly tuned to suppertime FM.  I remember that children need hydrating and pour out two cups of water.
That's when I notice a persistent droning about apple juice.  Max is well aware of the new rule about milk or water at supper (introduced not for dental hygiene but specifically to curb the drone).  Meanwhile Oli is desperately and noisily pointing at the counter tops; apparently he can see the one thing he really wants.  I scan the surfaces but can only spot a packet of bagged salad and half a cup of cold coffee in a cafetiere.
'Ma..Ma, Ma..Ma.'
He wants me? I give him my hands.
Ah, banana? From his vantage point, I know he cannot possibly have a visual on the fruit bowl, but I'm willing to concede this one.  I walk over to the dresser.
Max is beside me speaking loudly about a bruise.
'You've been hurt? Where?'
'I want a prune' he says.
I manage to get him to sit down again and when his plate is cleanish I open the packet of dried prunes.
'Just one or you'll be on the loo for hours.'
On second thoughts I give him three.
Hands are mopped, buckles unstrapped and the boys are returned to the important stuff of trains and cars.  The show is over, and I still can't really remember whether it was lunch or supper.

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