Last night at the dinner table, in a span of twenty-two seconds, the ten-year old daughter was caught licking her mashed potatoes off the back of her fork and the twelve-year old boy turned the simple task of drinking milk into a highly complex procedure – which he failed to execute. Instead, he decorated his face with it, where it dripped onto both his shirt and the table. In fact, the mashed-potato-lollipop-licker got nailed twice in less than a minute; it was between takes that I turned to look at my son and saw the dairy beard.
What the hell?
I was already annoyed by the fact that husband, who sits right next to potato girl, didn’t seem to notice because he was far too busy licking his fingers one by one: slurp, slurp, slurp, slurp. He doesn’t lick his pinkie finger, but always hits the others in the same order, beginning with the ring finger and working toward the thumb. Guess what he does next? He picks up the napkin and dries his fingers.
Sooooo, when I turned and spied the milkman, doing it for the second night in a row I might add, I had a little somethin-somethin to say – to all of them.
“Can you slow down and make sure the cup is actually touching your lips before you tip it up to drink?” I said rhetorically, of course. He didn’t get that. He actually answered.
“Mom, I DID!”
“Don’t even go there. You didn’t, or it wouldn’t be all over your face and the table, now would it?” And another thing: his ability to detect rhetorical questions is non-existent.
“Mom, I –” but I cut him off.
“Just slow down. The goal is not to toss the milk from the cup to your mouth from an inch away.” I wanted to add that there would be plenty of time for that someday with beer, after breaking his mother’s heart and joining a fraternity, but I didn’t want to open up that can o’ worms at the moment. Fingerlickin’ good man would have chimed in and admonished me not to criticize the brotherhood. Plus it would only lead me to conjure visions of frat boys in their underwear, getting blindfolded and paddled and it was certainly too early in the evening for that fantasy.
That’s when I saw the potato-licker, at it again. Who taught children that it was a good idea to spin forks or spoons around and go at it from ten different angles? This is the same one who will simply tilt her head up to the ceiling if someone asks her a question just after she has taken a drink, so she can talk without it spilling onto the table. I desperately wish I was kidding.
“Kee, just move the food from your plate to your mouth with the fork; it isn’t a sugar cone for your dinner.”
I decided to test them one more time, just to see if anyone had learned anything.
“Why is it so hard to eat without involving fingers, noses, chins and fork cones?” I snapped. All but one had finally figured out that mom’s questions don’t always require answers.
“Well,” clipped the younger daughter, who’s nine and always ready with a long-winded speech when just a syllable will suffice. “Sometimes when the food is…” she began, glancing up to see The Look on my face. “Nevermind.”
Not two minutes later, I noticed a smiley face made with mashed potatoes and peas on my son’s plate. He can’t be serious, I thought to myself. I looked at him. He looked at me. We both looked at the plate. He looked scared.
“Are you kidding me?” I said incredulously. My annoyance at his poor timing surged ahead of my disbelief that he was making pictures with his food. Again, the rhetorical question meter failed to launch.
“I wasn’t –”
“You don’t have to explain what it was you weren’t doing. I can see exactly what you weren’t doing because I have eyes in my head. And stop answering my questions!”
I ask you, am I asking too much??
(Don’t answer that.)