We recently moved.
And, by recently, I mean last summer.
What I really mean is, we bought some new furniture pieces and rugs to go with the new house style.
What I more honestly mean is that my children eat like wild hogs after a 10 day fast.
These days, I eat most meals in fear. Mostly, that macaroni and cheese will end up strewn across my newish rug. It’s not my fault that a cream based color scheme worked best. Nor is it my fault that even Annie’s Mac-n-cheese still uses a yellow bordering-on-neon-orange in their cheese sauce.
And if it’s a dinner with any sort of red sauce involved?
Dinnertime now consists of a steady stream of reminders to use a napkin, wipe something up, or not hold your pizza cheese-side-down. Not to mention the constant refrain of “Lean in. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL CLEANLINESS, lean in!”
These offspring of mine are probably the messiest eaters I know. And I know lots of messy eaters. I’m eyeing you, Ahab.
Please tell me that I am not the only one for whom dinnertime is a major source of frustration? Clean up often consists of locating apple sauce from far corners of the house, deciphering the cause of the red Florida-shaped stain, or determining the original source of the stick.
Once I found a splattered patch of applesauce on a piece of furniture that wasn’t even in the same room as where we eat most of our meals, though, that was it! At that point, I knew it was time to enforce some rules. Applesauce on the TV? Unacceptable!
There’s nothing like new furniture to force my parenting hand.
In an effort to get through these dinner times with as little whining (or wine) as possible, I instituted a new dining policy. This sounds fancy. And fun. Like something you’d see posted above the entrance to a restaurant at Disney World. Right? (It was a hard sell for the sweetkids, too.)
No matter, I was forging ahead with my dining dictums, anyway. Yes indeedy.
Once we covered the new “no eating on the couches until you’re 21” rule (and, who are we kidding? By then, hopefully, they will have moved out. And they can ruin their own dang couches!) we moved on to the Big Three. Unlike This Is Us, these did not refer to sibling characters that I long to see develop and grow. They do, however, refer to the top three eating offenses.
- If you spill it, you clean it. I’m the only one allowed to cry about it.
- When you finish it, you clear it. Bonus points for clearing everyone else’s, too.
- If you break it, you buy it. Making a mental note to check piggy banks to make sure they can actually afford to “buy” anything.
As you can imagine, there were many cries of, “But, they are just accidents” and, “What if it’s just a mistake spill”?
No matter. Hope wells inside of me that someday soon, I will eat in fear no more.
With my children.
Without spinach being found anywhere other than between my teeth.
Or, you know…they’ll move out.