Thursday, 24 July 2014

Tea-Time: Another Cautionary Tale

Imagine you have three children. Three girls aged 10, 2 and 1, a curious mix of hormones, Haribo and Horrid Henry - or Emily, Alice and Rosie. Tea-time can be quite...interesting. By tea-time I mean evening meal, you might call this dinner, but I'm not here to preach about semantics.

So imagine, home from a hard days' work, you and your husband partnering up, as usual to prepare the evening meal. Alice, aged two is pottering about the living room making pretend cups of tea, and Rosie is sat strapped in to the chair at the dining table, eagerly awaiting her food. Emily is outside playing with her friends.

All is going relatively well. Burgers in buns, wedges and salad are being prepared with love. A well-balanced meal for your brood, You feel quite smug as you chuck spring onions and lambs lettuce leaves into the bowl for washing. Everything is cool. You've even bought the more expensive burger cheese with reduced fat - as opposed to the edible melted plastic cheap versions. Oh yes, everything is going great.

The table is set. Six-seater dining table. You at the head of it. Two babies on one side, husband and eldest daughter on the other. The seat at the other end is solely reserved for the pile of ironing that grows by the day.

You arrange the condiments in the middle of the table; mayo, ketchup, barbecue sauce. You carefully arrange the cutlery and put plastic Winnie the Pooh mats down for the two younger girls.

Next, you go to the front door and shout the eldest in for her food. "EMILY! YER TEA'S READY!!"

She runs in dutifully. Smooth smooth smooth.

So you all sit down at the perfect table with the perfect tea. You actually can't believe how good this is turning out. There's usually something to deal with.

Emily finishes first having scoffed a full burger covered in ketchup and cheese. You've never been one to keep them prisoner at the table once they have eaten, so you excuse her to go back out playing with her friends. Alice is next as she declares "I'm DONE!" She slopes back to the couch to sit and watch videos of people unwrapping toys on Youtube.

So now there is only you, your husband and Rosie left at the table. Rosie is stuffing chips into her face quite happily. The burgers are good. You even have a minute to ask your husband how his day was, but just as he begins to tell you...Rosie makes a coughing sound and promptly vomits up her chips. Projectile. A mix of chips and ketchup. Milk. And obviously, for no reason at all, carrots.All over herself. All over the table, all over the chair. Unbothered, she swirls the vomit around with her little fingers, smiling away.

You look at your husband. You both knew it was going too well. You chuck your husband a muslin cloth to wipe down. The smell smacks you in the face.  Baby gets thrown in the sink to be cleaned, it's excellent team-work again as you embark on Operation Clean-Up. Alice turns up the volume on the iPad. It's blaring out a woman's excitement at finding a Peppa Pig toy in a plastic egg, and all of a sudden Emily runs in screaming "LOOK AT THIS LOOK AT THIS!" And she has a furry yellow and black caterpillar crawling up the back of her hand and she is waving it in your face, and then in everyone's face...Alice screams, vomit-covered Rosie says "Wooo!"

The burgers are left to go cold. You sigh. You look at your husband. You both just know. You both laugh because that is the best way to deal with this sort of thing.

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