Lunch Advice for the Young at Heart

I work from home. Sounds like an anachronism, right? My husband also works from home. Now it gets interesting.

Anyway, working from home allows me to be there not only for my kids, but for my other girlfriends who are working mothers. Which is why today, our eleventy-first snow day of the year, I had five (5) children in my house including my own: three 10/11 girls and two 6/7 boys. (Since they are all into animal hats, they are identified as such.)   

Having my kids occupied with play dates actually makes it easier for Jeeps and I to work, we just have to stick our heads upstairs every now and then to gently remind them to stop screaming, or please not to run around near the artwork, or to suggest maybe it's a good time to go outside. Please. Now. Out.

You wouldn't believe what five jackets and five pairs of snow pants sound like in the dryer, nor how much food five kids can pack away, especially after playing outside in the snow. But my girlfriends are swell enough to have sent them over here with provisions. You can guess what they wanted for lunch. What do kids always seem to want for lunch?!

Someday I'm going to make mac n' cheese properly from scratch, but today it was Annie's to the rescue, along with some Nathan's hot dogs. But here's what was interesting. Around my dining room table sat five kids under the age of twelve, happily munching away their lunch, and talking about food. 

A large part of children's conversation seems to be survey-based: who like this? Who likes that? Raise your hand if you...? And true to form, these kids were polling each other about food. I was actually surprised to hear some of the commentary. I mean, there were the things you would expect: Brussels sprouts—disgusting. Lima beans—vomitrocious. 

"I have never eaten a turnip," offered up Koala, her tone clearly indicating she intended to continue on this way for life. Then Cat ventured, "I tried spinach. Spinach is actually pretty good."

"I love spinach pie," Panda swooned.

"I love spinach and pasta," replied Koala enthusiastically.

"Who likes Pierogies?" sang out Redman.

"I'm Polish, are you kidding," retorted Cat.

Koala: "What are Pierogies?"

Cat: "Pasta pockets with potatoes and cheese"

Koala: "Oh, they sound like gnocchi, have you ever had gnocchi? It's awesome."

Panda: "No." (Ahem, she's had gnocchi, she didn't like it, but there is nothing like a friend to up one's food game. Note to self: try gnocchi again)

Cat: "Who likes chili?"

A chorus of "Meeeeees."

Redman: "Who likes potato pancakes?"

Chorus of "Mmms," and then both Koala and Cat comment how much they liked the potato latkes at our Hanukkah party. But not the soup.

Dog (brother of Koala): "Who likes meatballs?"

Forest of hands raises above the table, followed by commentary on whose mother makes the best meatballs, and whether tomato sauce should be referred to as "sauce" or "gravy." 

(By this point, I am hiding in the kitchen writing this shit down.)

Panda: "Who likes tuna cakes?"

I cringe a little, thinking this will be induce a mass gag-reflex. But Koala asks politely, "What are they?"

Panda: "Well, they're..... OK, so like, you know how you make meatballs and you put in breadcrumbs and parmesan and an egg and seasonings and stuff? OK, so you do all that, but you use tuna fish. And you make little patties and you fry them in the pan. They're really good."

Koala: "Oh. Sort of like fish tacos?"

Redman: "Tacos are my favorite!"

Pause, and everyone yells, "Spaghetti tacos!!!!"

On and on it went, it was terrific! And here's something else impressive: Koala has tree nut allergies. For dessert I cut up some strawberries and grapes, and put them out with some cookies Cat brought—shortbread, and Chips Ahoy. I went back downstairs to work. A few minutes later, Koala comes downstairs with the wrapper from the shortbread cookies. She points to text in an enclosed box: Not suitable for people with nut allergies.

"That means me, right, I shouldn't have this." 

She wasn't really asking a question, she just wanted the second verification, but I was really impressed with how she knew to stop, think, and consult. 

"What about the Chips Ahoy?" I asked. 

"Those are fine, I have those all the time." She smiled and skipped back upstairs. A minute later, I heard Panda instructing her friends to bring the dishes over to the sink, leaving me with a sort of lump in my throat. In such an age of hover- and helicopter-parenting, I'm a firm believer that if you give them rules and guidelines and basic training, and then benignly get out of their way...the kids are all right.

I also believe in an alternate schedule instead of snowdays.  I would have no problem sending the kids to school from 12-6PM on a day of inclement weather.  Then again, easy for me to say that because I work from home.

By the way, I had two hot dogs for my lunch and they were awful good, but they made me thirsty as hell.  The kind of thirst that can only be truly assuaged by a beer. But I was working. Once you start drinking on the job, it's a fast road downhill.

Shtupping on the job is permissible. But only on lunch hour. On non-snowdays. With your spouse. Not with your employee/er. Or the poolboy.

This post was over 2 paragraphs ago, wasn't it?