Food and Cleaning

I hate, hate, HATE food.

I love eating – but I hate food.

I hate the multiple daily grind of deciding what to feed people, locating the ingredients, substituting those that I, inevitably, don’t have and then cooking and serving it to an unappreciative family. And then there’s the cleaning up. Always the cleaning up.

Here’s how dinner time works in our house:

At approximately 4:30pm I suddenly realise what the time is and that I don’t have anything planned for dinner. I fight off small arms, legs and plaintive pleas to ‘Play with me, mummy’ and make my way slowly into the kitchen. I rootle through the fridge, cupboard, freezer and any random bags on the counter searching for inspiration and possible useable ingredients. I continue fighting off small arms, legs and rather louder demands to ‘PLAY WITH ME, MUMMY!’ and generally realise that all I can provide is pasta, again. Possibly with a tomato sauce, And a bit of cheese.

At this point, the 4 year old is ‘playing’ with the baby – usually resulting in floods of tears from the plaything. After popping out of the kitchen several times to break up the ‘game’, in desperation I wander into my husband’s office requesting that he comes and supervises whilst I get on with the cooking. At this point, he informs me that he has to go out in 20 minutes and won’t be here for dinner. He then makes himself a coffee and a sandwich, which takes 10 minutes (while I continue to deal with both the cooking and the fracas occurring just out of my line of sight) and then proceeds to eat it in front of the poor, starving children, while complaining that they keep begging half of his snack. I desperately and unsuccessfully attempt to finish in the kitchen before he has to go out. I only cook enough for the children, since husband and I will have to eat later, once the kids are in bed.

Finally, I get the meal served and the children sat up. ‘Do I have to wash my hands?’ asks the 4-year-old. ‘Depends’, I say, ‘what have you been doing with them?’ ‘I touched my bottom’ he replies, and is sent off for a thorough hand scrubbing. Dinner then consists of me shovelling food onto the baby, while trying to prevent him tipping water all over the floor and me reminding the 4- year-old how to actually eat with a knife and fork and pointing out that he won’t get any pudding unless he eats enough of his dinner. He pushes his food around his plate, occasionally getting some in his mouth and eventually announces that he’s had enough. The baby, who has cleaned his bowl and a pot of yoghurt and has been sat playing with his spoon for 15 minutes demands to get down, so he has his hands and face wiped and crawls off. The 4-year-old asks to get down and wanders off too. His plate is still half full, the table looks like it’s been involved in a food fight and the floor ….well that’s where the other half of his dinner has ended up. Thank goodness we know some good carpet cleaning services.

My husband sails in the door just in time to see the room sparkling clean again and asks cheerfully ‘So what are WE having for dinner? And why do you look as if you’ve just been dragged through a hedge backwards?