My oldest child is 8 and my twins are 6. They snack as if they will never get another meal, and they eat meals like they haven’t been snacking for three hours straight. I don’t know how I am going to be able to afford to feed my children if they keep up their current pace of food consumption.
This may not be a bad problem to have if their table manners don’t improve. I have tried, folks. Since they have been eating finger foods, I have insisted they say please and thank you; I encourage the use of utensils. I remind them to close their mouth while chewing. None of it matters. Dinnertime is a fucking wreck.
1. Food Hair, Don’t Care
I will toss an entire meal if I think too hard about food hair. Even if it is my own hair that I find, I can’t eat food that has been touched by hair. My youngest daughter, however, seems to eat her entire meal with her own hair in her mouth. It’s like she is using her hair to floss the teeth that are chewing her food. Or she will eat over her plate like I ask, but she is like an artist dipping her brush into paint and her brush is her hair and her paint is red pasta sauce. If you think she won’t slurp the sauce off the end of her ponytail then you have had the pleasure of never dining with us. My son likes to get his food into his hair by touching his face and his head between bites. My other child will wipe her face on her napkin, forget to fold it before using it again and end up putting the food back into her eyebrows.
2. Chairs Are Complicated
I’m not sure if the more pressing question is why do kids fall off of chairs and stools 19 times a day or why are they surprised when they do? One minute they are fucking around, balancing on their toe nails, while spinning like a top and the next they are suddenly under the table crying about the injustice of gravity. Usually they knock their plate over on the way down, so I encourage them to just stay on the ground to finish their meal—unless the dog gets it first.
3. The Dog Ate My Food
Of course, the dog ate your food. When you wave your hot dog around like you are a band conductor, ending your crescendo in your lap, the dog will take the ketchup-heavy meat product out of your hand or from the floor when it falls out of the bun.
4. This Burger Tastes Like Farts
It’s not meal time unless the word poop has been said at least 27 times. Nor is it quality family time until someone farts so loud they declare it hurt their butt cheeks. One night I was so irritated I couldn’t truly appreciate my son’s comedic timing when we were talking about Christmas and what he wanted for a present. He paused, let one rip, and looked at me and said, “I don’t know, but that gift was for you.”
5. Sitting Doesn’t Make Sense
It’s a hard sell to get my kids to eat their meal while sitting in the same spot for the entirety of dinner, which is all of 12 minutes. I “require” them to sit while they are chewing and to remain sitting until they are done. But my son will take a bite, slide or fall off of his chair and then walk around the kitchen as if trying to get his steps in for the day. Or someone will get up to get more food, forget why they got up and become distracted by something in the living room. When they leave the table, I tell them it must mean they are done. It simply means they want to dance, “check on something,” turn their ass toward a family member to fart, or pick up the fork they dropped for the 3rd time.
6. Alexa! Play Old Town Road!
Or play some other popular song loud enough to not be able to hear anyone else sing because the sound of your sibling singing is the worst. Apparently it’s not annoying to shout over one another while screaming at Alexa to turn it up. The silver lining is that I can’t hear the sound of their chewing or crying after they have fallen or when the dog eats their food.
7. Gravity Is Dumb
I know, son. I am shocked you fell again too.
8. This Is Disgusting
Our pediatrician tells my kids to try new things because their taste buds are always changing. Apparently my children have a special palate that turns their favorite foods into dumpster trash even feral dogs would be offended by if forced to eat. The peanut butter is in the cupboard, knock yourself out kid. And no, you can’t have a yogurt tube and piece of leftover Halloween candy for dinner.
9. Alexa! Turn It Down!
By the end of the meal, I am pretty dead inside, but my hearing still works. I don’t have enough money to pay for the Tylenol that will put out the headache of one more song by Post Malone.
10. Undesirable Conversations
I try to get my kids to talk about their days but even the most creative, open-ended questions can’t yield the information I seek. My standard talking points then revert to other ignored or laughed at statements: Eat with your mouth closed. Please sit down. Eat over your plate. OMG, your hair. Why? Why can’t you just sit down? Seriously? Again with the farting? I’m pretty sure you pooped your pants a little with that one. I’m done. I can’t do it anymore.
I do my best to promote quality time by sitting and eating dinner as a family. Quality is clearly subjective. My kids seem to be having the time of their lives, but I am sure I am sitting with an untapped form of torture. Please pass the salt. And the Tylenol.