It was a Saturday afternoon. I had just settled my toddler into her high chair with her lunch, and figured I had about 12 minutes to wolf down the soup I had just reheated. I was about to ask my six year old what she wanted for lunch, when she breezed by me and said, “Hey Mommy! Remember the hotel we’re staying at?” (We were not at a hotel. This is part of a cringe-inducing imaginative game that is apparently ongoing and neverending.) “Mmm-hmm,” I begrudgingly acknowledged. “They’re having a special Valentine’s Day meal today! Can we go? It’s happening right now!” she said excitedly. I mentally kicked myself in the un-fun ass and brightly chirped, “Of course we can go!”
As I raised my spoon to my lips to begin the now 11-minute shovel, Izzy interrupted with, “No Mommy, you can’t eat yet! I have to write the menu first.”
Dammit. This could take forever. By the time she was finished setting the table and writing out three menus (because God knows each of us needed one, lest we suddenly become environmentally conscious and share a single menu) Sophie would have lost interest in her lunch, and I would be doomed. Not to mention my soup would surely be tepid.
I took a deep breath and forced myself to be patient. “Should I open that bottle of wine on the counter?” I muttered jokingly to my husband. After what seemed like an excruciating duration, Izzy finished writing our menus, and graciously allowed us to accompany her into the foyer, where she had moved a table to serve as a hostess podium.
“Hello there, how many of you will there be today?” she inquired politely, handing us our menus. Once we were seated, she took our drink order. My precious food-scarfing time was quickly slipping through my fingers, as Sophie was beginning to squirm in her highchair. “I’ll have a water, please!” I said with forced patience. “Did you notice? We also have wine!” she announced proudly.
I felt that heartbreaking moment where one realizes the amount of thought their sweet, well-intentioned child has put into the game, and I felt a surge of love and willingness sweep over me. Plus, I wanted a glass of wine.
“I would love some wine!” I agreed happily. As she took our order, I felt consumed by giggles, and my husband and I began to snicker while she busied herself in the kitchen. She turned to us. “Stop laughing!” she said accusingly, and I felt instantly remorseful.
“Oh, honey, it’s not funny, I’m just so proud of you! You always do the nicest things to make us feel special!” I said truthfully, giving her a hug.
As we began to eat our lukewarm soup and unappealingly cold sweet potato fries, her motive became clear. “Can we have dessert? It’s on the menu!” she pointed out slyly.
Another loophole! This child is equal parts loving and conniving. When will we ever wise up? I still find myself unable to rain on her metaphorical or literal parade by putting my foot down and denying her the dessert that was clearly on the menu.
Once again, Mommy and Daddy were outsmarted, and Izzy enjoyed her ice cream. Well, what the hell, at least I got a glass of wine with my lunch. After all, it was on the menu.
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