Below is my memory of what supper time was like when it was a daily family event at my house.
“Cathy, set the table,” I call to my 8-year-old daughter from the kitchen.
“OK, Mom,” she answers. Five minutes pass. She is now doing cartwheels.
“Cathy, set the table!”
“Just a minute, Mom, I’m practicing my back walkover.”
What seems like an hour passes. “Set the table NOW!” I scream.
“You hate me!” she wails, running out of the room.
I set the table myself; it’s quicker and it takes less emotional energy.
With supper ready, I turn to 9-year-old Bobby. “Bobby, tell your brothers and sisters it’s time to eat.”
Standing inches from my ear, Bobby bellows, “Hey, everybody it’s time to eat.”
Ignoring the ringing in my ears, I say quietly through clenched teeth, “Bobby, I want you to go upstairs and ‘tell’ them in a normal voice.”
“I have to do everything,” he shouts angrily as he stomps up the stairs.
By the time we are seated, the supper is cold. Silently seething at everyone for not getting to the table while the food was hot, I pick at my cold mashed potatoes, while Frank, my 6-foot-2-inch teenage son, takes almost half of the roast and puts it on his plate. This greatly upsets Bobby. “Mom, Frank has four pieces of meat and I only have one.”
With strained patience, I say, “Frank is bigger than you are, Bobby.” Then I shoot Frank a look that lets him know that I don’t think he’s so big that he needs half a roast. Getting my message, he puts a tiny piece of meat back on the platter.
Bobby doesn’t give up. “Frank doesn’t have any peas. Does Frank get dessert if he doesn’t have any peas?”
Frank enters the conversation. “I don’t want any peas or dessert, twerp,” he informs Bobby between mouthfuls of meat.
Bobby doesn’t realize that Frank, with a part-time job, has enough money in his pocket to buy any kind of dessert he wants. Unfortunately, little Bobby has no such option. “How many peas do you have to eat in order to get dessert?”
“Oh ... 20,” I answer, mentally dividing the bowl of peas into equal portions.
“What are we having for dessert, Mom?” Bobby asks. I know he is wondering if it’s worth it.
“Pumpkin pie, Bobby.” He loves pumpkin pie.
David, my 11-year-old, wants to help. “Look, Bobby, it’s easy. All you have to do is put the peas in your mouth and take a big gulp of milk. The peas will go right down. You won’t even taste them.”
Bobby decides to swallow those hateful peas. With determination, he forces a spoonful into his reluctant mouth. His face turns as green as the peas.
Desperately I command him, “Bobby, don’t you dare throw up!”
Quickly, he grabs the milk and takes a big gulp.
As we leave this, our typical supper scene, Bobby is anticipating his “just desserts” and I, his mother, am saying a silent prayer of thanks that the peas weren’t upchucked all over the table.
Carol Kloskowski is a resident of Elburn. Feedback on this column can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.