Sometimes, I think about the irony of my daughter being involved in Synchronized Swimming. Because, really, there is very little about her that is in synch with anyone else.
If there was any other part of her life that I could get Dimples to apply her synchronized swimming skills to, it would be to her meal-eating. In fact, our whole family could probably use a coach on this.
Being a teacher, I have developed the habit of eating quickly. Elementary school teachers have, on average, 4 minutes to scarf a lunch. Officially, we are allotted 30. But, once you get all of your students through the line that was already backed up because the school kitchen ran out of its nutritious pizza rolls two classes before you, and you use your one chance to pee and make any phone calls you need to make, and try to cook the frozen dinner you brought in the one microwave available for 100 teachers in the Teacher’s Lounge, that 30 minutes is pretty much gone.
When I met the Cap’n, I tried to slow myself down a little. The Cap’n savors his food, and does not rush. The Cap’n gets an hour and a half for his lunches. He can go to restaurants, even. So, he does not really understand the concept of “inhale it or lose it.”
Then I met the Family Firepants (my future in-laws), and knew I was really going to need to change my habits. They come from the era where your entire day is about the meals – the preparation, cooking, eating, and cleaning up and starting all over again. And there was no rushing through any of these phases.
And then I gave birth to Dimples – the Slowest Eater of All Mankind.
Here is a typical Family Dinner during the week:
Dimples and I arrive home around 5. I have not eaten since 11 because that is the ungodly time my lunch is scheduled at school. I am starving. But I don’t want to snack because it is close to dinner time.
I call the Cap’n to find out if he will be working late or coming home for dinner. If he is working late, I fix a no-fuss dinner right then and there for Dimples and me. If he says he will be home for dinner, I wait until about 5:30, and begin the dinner preparation process – which begins with the Feeding of the Dogs.
Wonderbutt and Mrs. P.I.B. are as unsynchronized as the rest of the family – with Wonderbutt finishing approximately 5 seconds after the food hits the bottom of his bowl, and Mrs. P.I.B. waiting until every part of the environment meets her satisfaction (pantry door closed, at least one human family member within her vicinity, but no living creature within a 3 foot radius of her bowl). Once Wonderbutt is finished, he hovers, hoping to get any tidbits Mrs. P.I.B. might leave behind – or to brazenly push his way to her bowl when she leaves her head lifted for too long.
Once I am done refereeing the dog meal, I begin to prepare dinner.
At 6:30, I serve whatever I haven’t eaten as I was pulling out of the oven because I am so ravenous. The Cap’n is usually not home by this point. He has no Dorfenbergerthalamus, if you recall, so he has probably gotten completely wrapped up in his work, and has no idea that it is even near dinner time.
At 6:45, I am finished with all three courses of my dinner. Dimples has taken one bite out of a roll, and put some butter on her peas.
At 6:50, the Cap’n calls and says he is now leaving work.
I start doing dishes.
At 7:10, the Cap’n arrives. Dimples has finished 1/8 of her meal. The Cap’n serves himself up a plate of cold food, and sits down to eat with her.
At 7:35, the Cap’n is finished. Dimples is about halfway done, and begs him to stay at the table with her while she eats. Because he is a pushover where Dimples is concerned, he usually does.
At about 7:55, Dimples finishes, then gets upset because she has only 5 minutes before she needs to get ready for bed.
As I ponder the possible reasons for our unbelievably unsynchronized meals, I think I have come up with the answer.
We need to orchestrate the meals with music.
And possibly wear our bathing suits.
If you have any suggestions for appropriate music (preferably NOT from the score for The Sound of Music), feel free to give your recommendations. If I put a little more effort and artistry into this, it could become the next Olympic sport.
“I’m not a big fan of that.” This is what Dimples says when she does not like something – usually the food placed in front of her on the table. What she really means, of course, is that she wants to know how exactly much of this vile food she must force down her throat in order to qualify for dessert.
It would be easier for me to list the foods she is a fan of, than to try to log all of the ones that disgust her. Scratch that. It would be easier to list all of the nutritious foods she likes (all three of them) than the ones she pushes around her plate indefinitely.
It does no good to remind her that she claimed to like that particular food two weeks ago. Or to point out that one of the foods on her current short list of favorites was actually a deeply detested food the first three times it landed on her plate.
As picky eaters go, Dimples is actually pretty good about it. She might declare that she’s “not a fan”, but she still grudgingly sits through the movie, so to speak. She just makes sure we are aware of her distaste and then takes as long as possible to ingest it – leaving herself more time to make a deal with her father regarding what percentage must end up in her stomach instead of the plate. (I let her father make the deals, because he’s usually the one who served her up triple sized helpings to begin with, apparently either suffering under the delusion that Dimples is a 300 pound cowboy who needs to keep up his strength for bull riding or fearful that our daughter will die of malnutrition before her next meal.)
So, I’m trying to think of a clever retort for the next time she publicly denies fandom to a food item. How about one of these:
“You don’t have to post the picture on your Wall.”
“I’m not asking you to friend it on Facebook, just eat it already!”
“Just eat it, don’t Tweet it.”
“The last I checked, Yelp wasn’t asking for ratings of your mother’s cooking.”
…Oh my God – there’s not an app for that, is there?