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The Dreaded Words

Posted by mcm0704 on January 13, 2010 |

Here is another excerpt from my latest book, A Dead Tomato Plant and a Paycheck. This segment is from the chapter What’s For Dinner? Or, Mutiny of the Midgets. Enjoy…

There are certain words and phrases in the English language, dirty words aside, that are guaranteed to disrupt the otherwise peaceful existence of any mother and drive her to the brink of insanity. Paramount in this area are the words, “What’s for dinner’?”

At our house, this question was always asked at the most inconvenient times – at lunch before I’d even had a chance to mop up the soggy Cheerios from breakfast, occasionally during dinner the night before, and once before I’d even had my morning coffee.

Approaching me before coffee, by the way, had to be the epitome of curiosity, courage, and stupidity. I barely breathe before my morning caffeine, let alone answer a question, and the kid who was brave enough to tread where no others had ever trod was putting his life in jeopardy.

When the kids came home from school the first words out of their mouths would be, “What’s for dinner?”

Every other year I might have gotten a “Hi, Mom” first, but I quickly learned not to let my emotional security hinge on whether or not that happened.

I can remember thinking how simple it would have been had they all waited until everyone was home and sent one delegate to ask the question instead bursting into my office every hour on the hour. Or I could have called a family conference and made a general announcement. Or made a recording and left the tape player handy so all they had to do was push a button to hear what was on the dinner menu.

Sometimes I’d decide it would be a terrific idea for them to be surprised once in a while. But when I suggested that they just wait and see, they’d act like I just invited them to experience Chinese water torture. And maybe it was agony for them not to know. They were pretty good at devising all sorts of sneaking-and-peeking games that usually left me with fallen bread, sticky rice, and an almost uncontrollable urge to scream.

It probably wouldn’t have been so bad if I thought they were asking because they really cared about what I’d expended so much time and energy to prepare. But it was terribly deflating to be asked that question for the fifth time in a row and have to hear for the fifth time in a row, “Ugh! I hate stew.”

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