I knew there was going to be trouble right from the start.
“Is this fish or chicken?” asked The Animal, as my wife placed the blue Pyrex on the table.
“It’s chicken,” replied my wife.
“It doesn’t look like chicken,” Boogieface chimed in. The chicken had paprika on it—a foreign substance to my children.
The Animal grimaced. “Uck. It looks disgusting!”
“That is extremely rude,” said Cass. “How would you like it if I told you something you made looked ‘disgusting’? Now sit down and eat. We’re going somewhere fun after dinner, but only if you finish on time.”
She was taking them to the library for a special pajama story time. At least…that was the plan.
Of course, when it was time to leave, everyone had finished their meal except for The Animal, who was trying to bargain his way out of eating his two — yes, two — green beans.
“How ‘bout if I just eat my chicken?” he asked, batting his 5-year-old eyelashes at us.
“Sorry. You have to eat everything, buddy,” I answered. “And you better hurry up—they’re going to leave without you!”
“Just ignore him, Val,” said Cass. “He knows what he has to do. If he doesn’t finish in time, he’s not going. It’s that simple.”
Cue the tears. “NO, MOMMY! DON’T LEAVE ME!”
I tried urging him along. “Com’on, buddy—hurry up! You don’t want to have to stay here with me, right?” Honestly, I was looking forward to the alone time. “Just put the green beans in your mouth and get it over with.”
“But I already tried green beans before,” he said, sniffling. “And I don’t like them!”
“Try them again,” said Cass. “The doctor said you have to try something 50 times before you begin to like it.”
I wasn’t sure about that little factoid, but I didn’t want him to miss out on story time. “Com’on, buddy,” I said. “Just eat them. They’re getting ready to leave!”
But Cass had had enough. “Just forget it, Val,” she said. “It’s too late. We’re leaving.”
“NO, MOMMY! NOOOOOOO!!!!”
By this point the little guy was so worked up he was nearly hyperventilating. I could see we were well past the point of reasoning, so I just went to the kitchen to start cleaning up. “Sorry, pal,” I said as I rinsed off the dishes. “But you had your chance.” I always know the right thing to say.
The Animal, however, was not amused. “I AM GOING, Daddy! And I’m NOT eating my green beans either!!”
I stopped loading the dishwasher, slowly turned, and gave him my I’m-The-Daddy scowl. “You do NOT raise your voice to me—do you understand!?”
By this time Boogieface was already in her PJs and headed out the back door to get her bike. Cass followed close behind. “OK,” she said. “We’ll see you later.”
“MOMMY, NOOOOO! DON’T GO WITHOUT ME!! MOMMY!”
I decided to give him one more shot at it. “Look,” I said, walking back into the dining room. “They’re leaving. So pick up those green beans and shove them in your mouth—now!”
And he did. And then he gagged and threw up right onto his plate.
It was at this point that I realized the irony of the situation. At his age I too despised green beans and would marathon dinner sit-ins at my parents’ dining room table. And now, here I was doing the same thing to my own son. I felt terrible.
“It’s OK, buddy,” I said, picking up his plate. “Just go.” And off he went with my wife and Boogs, sniffling and whimpering as he walked out the back door.
Finally, it was over.
Or was it?
A couple minutes later I peered out the back door to the garage and could see Boogieface just standing there with her bike. Cass and The Animal were nowhere to be found.
I opened the door. “What are you doing?” I said. “Where’s Mommy and your brother?”
“I can’t get Bunny in my bag and he’s gonna fall out.” Apparently they were told to bring their favorite stuffed animal to the event.
“Just shove him in the bag and get going. You’re going to be late. Hurry up—Mommy is waiting for you!”
But once again Cass had had enough. “Forget it,” I heard her say as she rolled back into the garage on her bike. “We’re not going.”
“NO, MOMMY!” Now it was Boogs’ turn to cry. “I don’t know what to do! Bunny keeps falling out!”
Cass stomped over, grabbed the pink bunny by the head, and shoved him down into my daughter’s backpack, which was hanging from the handlebars on her bike. “There!” she said. “Now let’s go! Honestly, I don’t know why I try to do anything for you kids!”
And so ended yet another memorable dinnertime at the Brkich household. For once I was glad to be doing the dishes alone.
To tell you the truth, with dinners like this, it’s amazing any of us can keep our food down. ~
Copyright © 2015 Valentine J. Brkich