My children become excessively needy in the dinner hour - the prep time, the meal time, and the cleanup. Their demands are endless. Tonight was no exception.
As I scrambled with the many dishes on the stove and in the microwave, Tyler cried because he wanted to sit in his chair, 25 minutes before it was time to eat.
Tucker needed, needed, needed to be in the kitchen with me, standing at my feet, asking to help. Please. Help. Please.
Tyler wanted to be held.
Then they wanted to play a game. Now. Cootie, please. Now.
As we got nearer to dinner time, Tyler's bib could not be found. He could not think of eating without it, so we had to search high and low. When we found it, he didn't want to wear it.
Meanwhile, Tucker endlessly blew his last-day-of-school windmill, which sent spit flying all over everything and everyone. So, that's fun, just before dinner.
When it was finally time to eat, Tyler wanted to get out of his chair. After all, he had been in it for 25 minutes. No dice, kiddo.
Tucker got in trouble for shouting, "Pee-Pee! Pee-Pee!" (He didn't need to go. He just thinks he is hysterically funny.) We try to discourage this conversation at the dinner table, so he spent a few minutes in time-out.
"Tuck, when you're ready to use polite words, you can come back."
"Are you ready to use polite words?"
"Then you can keep sitting there."
In the meantime, Tyler had no interest in dinner, his meal, his chair, or his life as he knows it. He wanted Mommy. In his whiniest, most tearful voice, he cried for me. Since I was enjoying my enchiladas (as much as one can in such an environment), Robb tried to encourage him to eat instead.
"Tyler, can you eat your chicken? This is Daddy's favorite chicken. Very favorite. Taste it."
"No. Mommy. Mommy, mommy, mommy." Cry, cry, cry.
Tucker announced from the living room: "I'm ready now."
"Okay, come join us."
As he joined us, he announced that he had to go potty now. Robb and I exchanged glances over the table: to allow, or not to allow? We're still freshly out of the potty training graduation ceremony, so we are reluctant to keep the boy from going when he says he has to go. Go. Now. Quickly. Then eat. Now. Go.
Tucker yelled from the bathroom, "Hey! I tooted!"
Tucker yelled from the bathroom, "Soap! Soap! SSOOOAAAAP!" It was hard to know if he was yelling at us or at the soap. Especially since he didn't need a single bit of assistance when I arrived at his side to help him reach the soap. He was fine, thanks.
Once Tucker came back to the table, he reminded us of the promise to play a game after dinner. "Mommy, we play Candyland. You be green."
Tyler: "No, I be green."
Tucker: "No! No, you be blue. I be green. Mommy be red."
Tyler: "No, I be red."
Tucker, clenching his fists and gritting his teeth: "No. No, no, no."
I whispered, "Tuck, he doesn't really know his colors yet. He's just repeating everything you say."
Tuck, with greater rationale, "Oh. Okay. Tyler, you be green."
Tyler: "No, you be green."
Growling commenced. Tyler cried.
(Are you kidding me? Is it time for bed yet?)
And then the negotiations started.
"Boys who eat their dinner can have a cookie."
"I want a cookie!"
"Did you eat your dinner?"
"Then no cookie."
"But I want a cookie!"
"Eat your grapes or your chicken."
"I want a cookie."
"I want Mommy!"
(I want a stiff drink.)
In an adult moment above it all, I whispered (nearly in pig-latin), "You know, I made chocolate raspberry trifle for dessert. I'm not sure they've earned it. I'm pretty sure we have. After their baths and bedtime, let's eat it. Just us."
Tucker piped up: "Hey! What's the big idea?"
And who is this smarty pants at my table, I'd like to know? And who talks this way? I happen to know he was simply reciting lyrics from a song Uncle Rob gave him (incidentally titled, "Sucking Too Hard On Your Lollipop", but that's for another blog post), but his timing was impeccable.
In the end, they didn't eat their dinners (chicken and grapes notwithstanding), they didn't get their cookies, and they're still not quite asleep, hours later.
But we had dessert. And it was freaking amazing. (Everything tastes better after bedtime.)
Best of all, we have a cherished house guest staying with us this week, which is what brought all of this to my attention. Because the truth is: this is what dinner looks like every single night of our blasted lives. We just don't always have an audience.
Tomorrow: Girls' Night Out. Good luck, Robb.