I have a guilty secret: I don't like to eat with my children.
No! you gasp. It cannot be! But you love your children. And you love to eat and to cook and to feed people. How can you not love to feed your children?
Let me be clear. I have no qualms with feeding the children. Its eating at the same time that's my issue. And its' not their table manners. The 4-year old inside of me giggles when Trystan shovels oatmeal into his mouth by the handful, and can appreciate the art masterpiece that Charlotte makes out of her dinner.
The problem is that I never get to eat! We sit, we pray, and then the aerobics begins. I'm up getting the (milk/yellow mustard/fork) that was forgotten. I'm down on the floor mopping up the overturned bowl of soup before I stick my own sock in it by mistake. I'm cutting food. I'm blowing on food. I'm negotiating what food Charlotte must consume to qualify for the chance to watch a TV show after dinner. This is not to say that I perform these tasks alone, either. My husband generally handles half of the interruptions. And still, I don't get to sit.
And by the time I get to the first bite of my dinner, which is now cold, Trystan's done. Quick, get the baby out of the high chair before he (throws his food/screams bloody murder/wiggles out of his buckle and leaps from the chair)! And he must be cleaned, head to toe, and sometimes stripped (depends on how soggy the outfit got). Then he must be released into the living room to play, a feat which normally fails the first 2 or 3 times depending on (whether the powder room door is open providing access to toilet paper and flushing/how quickly he reaches the cupboard with the forbidden food processor attachments/how yummy Mommy's food looks).
Just as I settle in for a few more bites, Charlotte asks to be excused. And requires coaching on putting her dishes on the counter, and then needs help turning on the water when she washes her hands. By then, Trystan toddles back into the kitchen and begins yanking on my leg, begging for space on my lap, and bites off my plate. If I refuse, then he climbs up anyway, and I have to take him (kicking and screaming) into the living room. And race him back to the kitchen before he steals my chair.
Dinner time was almost relaxing from just before Trystan was born (when Charlotte was 2.5), until...well, until he came home from the hospital and discovered that everytime I sat down to eat, he was hungry too. (I was an expert at nursing at the table).
This, too, shall pass. And one day, when my kids are surly teenagers who refuse to speak in complete sentences, or have so many activities that they barely make it to dinner at all, I will miss these days. Peekaboo under the table. Charlotte goading Trystan into saying "stinky" (the worst word she can come up with). Trystan politely asking for more butter after he downed his last helping, leaving the bread intact....