Some time around 5:30 every evening, the four of us huddle around a $25 plastic folding table to throw food and complain. We aren't so poor that we're forced to use an outdoor table inside, it's just that our kitchen nook is so oddly shaped that it only fits furniture from the Rubbermaid collection. I'm sure we could have something custom-built out of cherry, or maple, or whatever bowling alleys are made of, but for the same money, we opted to buy a new car.
The table is clearly designed for outside parties where grass and heavy bowls of potato salad can hold it in place. On wood floors, it glides around like an air hockey puck. Arlo, who sits in a high chair, is the only stationary member of the dinner party, but he's usually too busy taking off his shirt and spreading milk with his Hand-Zamboni to offer any anchoring services.
It's supposed to be a family dinner, but somehow neither of us ever makes enough food for the adults. My rations one night were two "fish nuggets," approximately seventeen peas and a dollop of cinnamon applesauce. It reminded me of the meals my grandmother made the week after my grandfather had a quadruple bypass. Lindsay didn't even have a plate. She was eating rice pudding from the container while blowing on 4-year-old Silas' peas.
"Why do the kids have more food than me?" I asked jokingly. "Why don't you just say, 'Hey, I made dinner, but there isn't any for you'?"
My wife laughed because she knows I don't actually care and would rather ridiculous things happen than for life to be boring and predictable. "Oh, is that not enough?" she responded sarcastically, "I figured we could just finish what they don't eat."
That's what it's come to apparently; we gobble our children's leftovers like unloved basement-dwelling stepchildren in a fairy tale. Sometimes I even eat stuff off their plates as I'm putting them in the dishwasher. We're scavengers in our own house -- watching in hunger and desperation, hoping our kids accidentally leave some food for us to scoop violently into our mouths with bare hands like forest people.
Some couples have dinner after their kids go to bed. That seems nice and romantic, but unfortunately, our 4-year-old crashes at 7:30 and our 2-year-old is usually up partying his balls off until around 9:30, and since this isn't Spain, we eat dinner before 10 p.m.. I guess we'll just continue to have a kid's meal at 5:00, and then after both kids are asleep, eat pie while watching So You Think You Can Dance until we fall asleep holding forks.