Sunday, September 11, 2011

Everything I Need to Know I Learned at the Dinner Table

With the arrival of fall comes more dinner table conversations and many futile attempts at making homemade soup. My intentions and the initial cooking of the soup always start right, with the comfort-food aroma filling the house and the anticipation of eating something good brewing in the crockpot. The hard part, however, comes when it’s time to serve the three Christie kids liquid containing vegetables. Add to that their increasingly sophisticated dinner banter that, they have learned, is a good distraction.

“But I made it with LOVE,” I say, standing over a table full of sour looks and protests.

“Aw, not a love food again,” little brother whines. His big brother insists I stop trying to make homemade meals and just buy some chicken nuggets in a bag or the fish that come in stick-form.

“We don’t want you to hurt yourself doing all of this cooking,” my oldest boy announces.

At the dinner table one has to listen hard to keep up with several conversations. Tonight little brother is enthralled by his older sister, a feisty 6 year-old who likes to pretend she’s a snail.
He tugs on my shirt and pulls me down to his level to whisper a question in my ear.

“Can I marry Sissy?”

“I’m sorry, no. It’s against New York State law. You can marry another person when you grow up.”

Little brother frowns. Yanking me down to his level again he whispers, “She is a beautiful goy-il and she has a toy stuffed octopus. She’s the best!” he spits in my ear.

“What does “marry” mean, anyway,” I ask, wiping the boy slobber off the side of my face.
Little brother shrugs. His older brother interjects.

“Don’t you know, Mommy?” he asks, incredulously. “You and daddy are married many years.”

“Not that many!” I reply, defensively.

“Well- longer than my whole life and that’s a long time,” Big Brother says.

“Oh, right. Ok,” I say, checking his napkin for secretly discarded carrots. “So what happens after you get married?”

There is a long pause at the table. Meanwhile, Sissy is avoiding eating her soup by drawing flowers on her napkin with a pink crayon.

“Well, you just go home with your goy-il and she cooks for you. Then you play bad guys,” little brother says, matter of fact as I try to swallow a laugh.

“No- that’s not what happens,” Big Brother says confidently. “You go to work. Then you retire and move to a nursing home to live out the rest of your life sipping lemonade and playing Bingo.”

“Is that what you are gonna do?” I ask.

“Probably not. But you will, Mommy. And unfortunately for us, before you retire you are going to make a lot of years-worth of soup that we’ll have to eat. So, maybe, Mommy, you should just move on to the next step of life now,” announces my oldest.

Slightly shocked by the overly intelligent and heartless candor of my 8 year-old, I shout, “You want me to move away to a nursing home!?”

“No!” yells little brother, grabbing my arm, protectively. “I’m just gonna marry you when I’m a man,” he says, decidedly.

“Oh, yeah? What if you don’t want to get married, or if you meet a girl your age who likes octopus and even T-R-A-I-N-S,” I offer.

My youngest looks worried. He’s pushing the potatoes around in his soup with his spoon, deep in thought.

“Then I’ll just have to do a break up on her and marry you, cuz you’ll be the best at building my island of Sodor,” he finally says, triumphantly.

But my mind is stuck on the first part of that sentence. “Do a what?” I ask, incredulous. What’s a “break up?”

My youngest looks frustrated.

“Mom! That’s when you lose your goy-il and marry someone else!” he informs me.

“Oh, right,” I say, slightly stunned by his knowledge.

“You should already know that Mommy,” Big Brother says, adding, “Oh no. Our soup is cold. Call us when it’s snack time.”

As the table clears of children in under five seconds, I realize that getting these Christie kids to eat vegetables is the first of MANY future challenges.

Picture: the characters at my breakfast/lunch/dinner table
This post was reprinted in a column called "My Turn" in the Sept. 22, 2011 issue of Long Island Advance. It also appeared in the October 13, 2011 issue of Suffolk County News.


charles said...

loren simpahize whit you fatal attack that ocurrerd september 2001. no one deserves that we all human beings we are blood brothers write fron argentina kisses

Loren Christie said...

Hi Charles. Thank you for commenting. Down with the haters. God Bless America and Argentina too.

Anonymous said...

Hey there

charles said...

i whish you the best of this beautiful life

Putz said...

i don't want you to hurt yourself<><><>my wife cooking the other day{she is now retired as of sept.1st} a shrimp salad with cheese breadsticks and green beans, all going well until my son says wouldn't scones be good, well she swirls around in her best housewifey swirl, and hits herself with her cooking spoon at exactly the same spot on her forehead where she burned herself with a curling iron earlier that day<><>><this never happened while she was at work

Loren Christie said...

I enjoy your comments so much Mr. Putz. Why doesn't your son bake the scones? Shrimp salad with cheese bread sticks and green beens sounds like quite an effort to me. Let Mrs. Putz know that I think she deserves a gift certificate to the beauty salon courtesy of you and your son, Mr. Putz for all those years of fine meals. lol

Milk Man said...

You can add Milk Man to the fight against the veggies. Go fast food!

Loren Christie said...

You're so doomed, Milkman.

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Welcome to my writer's blog, started about six years ago for fun. Over time, the writing I have posted has ranged from personal reflection, to Long Island history research, to tall tales for my own amusement, to feature articles for local newspapers. As you can see from topics listed here, I travel in many mental directions in regard to interests. Click on the tabs and labels to explore my strange mind which senses that you may be having a criss-cross day. If so, perhaps this blog will distract you. However, please note that if you tell me my blog is beautiful just to get me to advertise rhinoplasty surgery and cheap drugs from Canada in your comment, I will ask the gods to give you a tail that cannot be concealed.


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