Meals in the Shenanigan house are rarely a thing of beauty, a time for peaceful conversation, or an opportunity to linger while digesting. No one stands on ceremony. The free-for-all atmosphere of everyday life carries over into our feeding frenzy . . . otherwise known as mealtime.
Kids interrupt siblings and the sport of belching is used in hopes of impressing, while volume steadily increases out of fear of being unheard. Drinks spill like clockwork, and unwanted food is ditched under seat cushions, tossed casually under a brother's chair, or stuffed inside adjacent drawers, house plants, cabinets, and heat vents.
Although in theory our table seats eight, our growing offspring crowd around the table and grumble when someone's seat is arranged too closely to the proximity of his or her space. Curly's junior chair is wedged between Laddie and Eddie. Lately she has recognized the injustice of this assigned seat. She would prefer to sit beside Mini.
Mini's seat has been strategically placed between the other two brothers on the other side of the table. I call this approach 'spreading the love'. It was not too long ago, that the two youngest sat at my two elbows in order for me to assist them in their mealtime dilemmas. While I am glad to have progressed into the 'everyone feeds themselves' stage of life, there are always new challenges.
Tetonka cannot keep his rear end in his seat, so he leans over the table while kneeling. We constantly beg him to be seated, and in the same breath we urge others to finish eating and leave the table all together. Yet, I continue to feed them.
This school year our weekday breakfast has been redefined. Pancake and waffle treats were once reserved for weekend fare. As soon as some cartoon-watching, PJ-wearing munchkin observed Coach pull out his griddle, word spread faster than melted butter in a frying pan to the rest of the loungers that Daddy was cooking up a hot breakfast.
Despite the fact that I have rejoined the work force and have places to be most mornings, my ban against all things sticky, syrupy, and time-consuming on a school morning has been lifted. A few of the crew benefit from the additional protein of a hearty breakfast, and sleeping-in is so last decade for me, that I whip up pancakes, scrambled eggs, and bacon or sausage once or twice a week. There may be a direct correlation between the morning feasts prepared to the number of tardies we've been awarded this year, but I haven't conducted any definitive research.
This morning my breakfast preparations fell short. Either someone was extra hungry, or my usual batch of cakes produced shorter stacks than normal. The outcome resulted in a new low. Mayhem ensued: begging, guarding, stealing, and licking.
Yes, licking. Eddie quickly licked his pancakes as soon as he received his plate. This was his form of insurance that I wouldn't force him to share with the other kids who were beginning to express their lack of meal satisfaction. Tetonka circled the table that was dotted with little puddles of misguided syrup as he waited to pounce on a bite that was unwanted, unguarded, or unlicked (they do have their standards).
Reggie begged for more. More anything. Why not cook up another hot plate of greasy bacon? How could there be no more eggs? I admit to scrambling less eggs this time around. Left over eggs typically end up in a clouded Tupperware container buried in the back of the refrigerator until they are transformed into an ideal junior high science project and no longer considered a food product.
Accusations of unfair portions were hurdled at me from every direction. Thank goodness Laddie had already eaten his fill (probably part of the reason I was faced with this dilemma in the first place) and had departed for his bus.
In my estimation, I was about four pancakes short of a successful breakfast and one egg shell short of cracking up!