Dinnertime = Wild Time

I’m running a little late to get dinner started, but not too late. It’s 5PM and the chicken has been cooking in the slow cooker all afternoon. It smells wonderful, but sadly it’s a little dry. All I need to do to get it on the table is heat the tortillas, chop the onion and cilantro, and mix up some kind of a sauce to go with our “street” BBQ chicken tacos.

I send Andrew upstairs to watch Wild Kratts (because the downstairs TV is broken (ugh!)) and sit Caroline down at the table with two graham crackers. Otherwise she just wants me to hold her because it’s 5PM and that’s what she wants everyday at 5PM.

The graham crackers keep her occupied for maybe ten minutes.

Then Andrew’s back downstairs asking for a snack. Can’t these children see that dinner will be on the table in FIVE minutes if they’d just let me get it all together??

I finally get their tacos made, and manage to bribe them into sitting down at the table. I put their plates down in front of them and get back into the kitchen to fix my tacos, and I realize that before I’ve even sat down Caroline has dumped her entire plate – chicken, tortilla, shredded cheese and chips – onto the floor.

Uh oh she says.

*!*!*!!** I say in my head even though I really want to say it out loud.

Andrew asks for his cheese to be melted so I pop some in the microwave for him. And he wants his chips crumbled. He spends way too much time getting his taco just the way he wants it and then he tells me it’s not really very good and he wants a granola bar.

Um, no.

I’ve given in to the screeching and Caroline is having a fruit pouch. That doesn’t seem quite fair so Andrew gets an applesauce and I’ve eaten half my taco.

I try to ask Andrew about his afternoon with his babysitter and what kind of craft they made and if they were able to have that picnic, but Caroline is begging for more chips and the dog is barking at the back door and Andrew doesn’t really want to talk, he wants to play with his food.

And I wonder, why? Why do I try to make them sit down and eat dinner like civilized people? We do hold hands around the table and pray every night, but that’s pretty much the only positive thing that comes of this experience these days.

Brian makes it home for our dinner maybe once during the work week. (Thankfully he’s always here on the weekends.) The rest of the time he reheats leftovers that have been sitting out since the kids and I ate at 5:30 because right after dinner we need to jump in the tub or run out in the backyard for a few minutes before jammies and bedtime.

Family dinners are so very important to me, but when Brian consistently can’t make it home in time are they really family dinners?

Can’t I just feed them apple juice and cheese sticks, eat a Lean Cuisine and make sure Brian has stuff for a turkey sandwich when he gets home??

No. I guess not.

I’ll keep on keeping on. They’ll be bigger soon. Caroline will get more cooperative eventually. (She’s really a pretty good eater. Maybe the graham crackers were a bad idea.)

How do you handle dinnertime? 

Am I insane for even trying with a four year old and a 20 month old??

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