It was pretty much a miracle pulling off this dish. And not because this salad is complex, but more because I was juggling my children through their dinner hour at the same time. I love my munchkins but many nights they take me down. I realize this is just the phase we are in.. a threenager, a teething 18 month old, and sibling rivalry all under one roof. Many days are tough, but then we have those days that are a breeze, full of silly fun, reminding me why I love being the mother of my children. Most of the time I take all the craziness in stride, but some days are plain out ridiculous. It’s all rather comedic. So comedic that sometimes I try to imagine what it looks like if I were watching my life through a tv screen..
We return home from a late afternoon playground session. Hands washed, stroller/shoes/snacks put away, and I start to prep the kids dinner. At my request my threenager cleans up some of the toy mess. Her brother is ripping books off a shelf. This is totally manageable until our new puppy, Silver, starts flying back and forth running off with toys sending the kids into screaming fits. I continually have to pause from whatever I’m doing to remove a toy from Silver’s mouth or fish it out from under the bed. Now one kid needs more water. The other kid dumps their water out all over the floor. Then one kid gets in their toy car. The other kid starts screaming because they now want to play in the car. In a fit of emotion the carless kid digs out my 3lb weights and thinks it’s fun to drop them on the tile floor. (Thankfully no broken tiles or toes.) After I remove the weights the next best thing is to attack the wipes and pull them out of the package as quick as possible. Now add in cooking two meals, one for the kids and one for the adults. As I said it’s pretty comedic.
Through this craziness I manage to get their food on the table and the kids in their chairs. I use this ‘kid contained’ time to start to continue the adult dinner. Sometimes I try to keep the eyes in the back of my head open to monitor what goes on as the kids eat. When left to their own devices they encourage some ridiculous behavior from one another. This meal I decided to instead focus on my cooking and let them eat. Basically I let the control side of me go and just submit. I know I’m picking my battle, choosing to deal with a rather large clean up. But sometimes this is better than trying to enforce good table manners. There is only so many times I can say keep your feet off the table, sit down in your chair, please face forward, don’t spit your food, etc ect.. So I roast the cauliflower, fry the capers, toast the nuts, chop the parsley, run out to the yard to pick some chives, take the dog out to pee, feed the dog dinner, take the dog out again, slice the cauliflower, and so on. And through all this the kids are making each other laugh, banging their forks as loud as possible, and sort of eating. They aren’t really eating but they are happy! I’m not expecting them to eat all their meals, but I can typically count on one to do a pretty good job, as was the case this night.
The end of the meal equals my little food monster standing in his high chair, grabbing at the calendar, and getting food all over the wall. I clean my kid up, get him on the floor, and spray everything down with vinegar. Meanwhile I realize the other has emptied her water bottle all over the table and floor. As I clean this mess mr climber pushes a kitchen chair over to the counter in attempt to grab at anything and everything – my phone, the bag of pretzels (= salt crumbs all over the floor), the cat painkillers, plants, the toaster, pens, knives. This is a relentless battle I cannot win. No matter how many times I remove my kid from the chair, return the chair back to the table, and say no the game immediately resumes. My kitchen floor is now covered in water drops from me running back and forth juggling washing dishes and removing my child from a chair. At this point my threenager has managed to finish eating her dinner, or what she will eat of it. I spend the next 30 minutes cleaning the kitchen of my mess and theirs. Of course the chair pushing continues but with the new realization that using the chair with the booster seat enables crawling onto the countertops. Lovely. As the kitchen cleaning comes to a close and I take a deep breath realizing that I just survived the last hour of craziness, Josh walks in the door. How perfect timing he has! But you know what, I wouldn’t trade any of the craziness in. I take another breath, crack a beer, look at my family, and realize just how lucky I am. That is until two sips in I have kids screaming over the same toy, trying to get my attention away from Josh, and once again tearing apart the house. Is it their bed time yet?