Battle of Wills

The scene: We’re at the dinner table, Sunday night. We’ve settled down around a meal of take-out Italian, because, unlike the Norman Rockwellian family that gathers together over pot roast and mashed potatoes on Sunday, the idea of washing that many dishes is overwhelming this evening, so we beg the pardon of Mother Earth and dive in to our plastic containers. Please don’t judge us. Desperate times call for really bad environmentalism.

The characters: David, quietly drinking his beer. Me, sort of drinking my own beer while sniveling unattractively through a haze of autumn hay fever. Quinn, actually sucking the cheese out of her ravioli, then, before we can stop her, throwing the pasta carcasses over the back of her high chair for the dog to catch. She’s happy, though, so that counts for something. Saoirse, meanwhile, is pitching a fit. A full-on, whiny, moaning, crying fit.

The conflict: Saoirse wants bread. She has requested chicken tenders. (Yes, this former full-on vegetarian who only buys organic food for her family has fallen headfirst into the modern American fast-food trap, so chicken tenders it is. Stop the judgment, already, will you? It’s called survival, people. And a mom’s gotta do…). But all she wants to eat is the loaf of white bread that comes with the meal.

The plot: David says, eat your dinner first, then you may have the bread. “But I’m huuuuunnngry!” SK cries. I take a sip of my beer. David reiterates his point to more wailing. I jump in, sharply, making both SK cry harder and David come back at me with something along the lines of “butt out.” SK sees the exchange, apparently decides she doesn’t like attention being diverted from her fit, so she says “I wanna eat my breeeeeaad! I’m huuuungry!” Quinn throws her fork overboard. David tells Saoirse to eat her food. I take another sip of my beer. Saoirse cries some more. David has finished his own beer. He tells Saoirse again to finish her dinner, and I bite my tongue because I would’ve cleaned her up and dismissed her from the table at this point. Saoirse cries some more, then picks up some pasta with both fists and stuffs it into her mouth. I look heavenward. David reprimands Saoirse, so she pulls the pasta from her mouth, leaving strands of chicken-y, buttery mucus to stretch from her mouth to her fingers, and from her mouth to her plate. She sees the mucus and stops crying long enough to play with her saliva. David gags. I start laughing uncontrollably.

Conclusion: No real conclusion, you know that. It’s a family dinner with a preschooler and toddler. Immediately after this, David gave the girls a bath while I guiltily rinsed out the plastic for recycling, and within minutes Quinn was chasing Saoirse around her room, Saoirse was laughing, and David was joking around with them. That is, until Saoirse kicked Quinn and Quinn started crying and David started admonishing and I decided that you know what? I am going to butt out this time.

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