Friday, July 13, 2007

Dinner for Two

Lars (6) is charged with setting the table for dinner each day, a task he generally allows his father to do all the prep work for and then defers the completion of until he's been commanded/begged 436 times. Since I have deemed this the Summer of Learning to be Responsible, a new rule has been instituted. If Lars needs to be told more than ONE time to set the table each day, he will not be eligible to eat the meal.

Ross (8) enjoys life in the summer without a shirt on. Actually, Ross enjoys life year-round without a shirt on, so we have a long-standing rule about wearing a shirt to the table. Even if you run around shirtless the entire rest of the day, you must put a shirt on to come to the table. If you aren't dressed for the meal (and we're not talking tux...), you don't get to eat.

Today, when I began making dinner, I called Lars to the kitchen. I let him know which dishes and utensils we'd need for the meal and let him know it was time to do his chore. As he brightly spun around to leave the kitchen, I asked if he remembered what would happen if he needed to be told to set the table again. He said that he did, and reiterated the potential punishment. I said I was glad he understood and told him there were 15 minutes until dinner.

With ten minutes left to go in the making dinner process, I went out to playroom and told both boys (Lars, not setting the table and Ross, not wearing a shirt) there were ten minutes until dinner. "Ok, Mama," they chorused brightly. I asked Ross if he knew what would happen if he was shirtless when dinner was on the table and he said that he did.

At the five-minutes-to-go mark, Chris made some Very Pointed Announcements, such as, "Dinner will be ready in FIVE minutes," and, "Lars, Mama said we'll need spoons and butter knives on the table tonight."

When there were only two minutes left, Chris again tried to spur the children into action. As I set the bread in the microwave to warm, I called, "Fifteen SECONDS to dinner," and the house shook as feet pounded upstairs. Ross appeared as the bread dinged, wearing a satin magician's vest but no shirt. Chris sent him to get a shirt. Ross argued that he was WEARING A VEST. Chris asked if a vest is a shirt? Ross hollered, "NO, it's a VEST!"

I didn't figure there was anything to be gained by calling Ross out on the shouting and left it to Chris to say, "You need to wear a SHIRT to the table."

As Ross stomped off to playroom (note: we do not keep shirts in playroom...), Lars appeared. He settled himself comfortably into a chair at our new table (!!!) and looked at his place setting, perplexed. "Hey...where's my silverware," he queried? I looked at him, my eyebrows raised. I asked where he supposed his silverware was. "In the drawer?" he offered. I nodded, gravely.

Chris walked in, surveyed the table (he'd set our half), looked at Lars and said, "You didn't set the table. Go." Lars dragged off, pouting but without stomping. Chris and I settled in to enjoy dinner, as best we could with the kids peering at us furtively through the playroom window. Shortly into our meal, we glimpsed a notebook flying across playroom, accompanied by escalating shouts. Chris walked purposefully into playroom and found the boys blaming each other for not getting dinner. "Lars, did you set the table," asked Chris? Lars shook his head. "That's why YOU didn't get dinner. Because YOU didn't set the table." Lars hung his head. "Ross, why are you not with us at dinner," Chris asked?

"Because LARS di...," Ross began but Chris cut him off.

"Did YOU wear a shirt to the table?"

"I WORE a VEST!" stormed Ross.

"A shirt is not a vest. I told you to get a SHIRT," Chris countered. "YOU did not wear a shirt; that's why YOU didn't get dinner," and he returned to the table. The boys spent the rest of dinner in playroom, alternately glaring at us and getting too many things out to play with - things they are now working on picking up. When they finish, I'm sending them up to bed. They're miserable when they're hungry and I'm just don't have patience for misery tonight.


Joy, of course said...

Wow, I am very proud of you for sticking to your rules. This story is very funny. You are so mean.

I think we decided earlier that you don't get any WPE points for being mean though.

Epiphany Alone said...

Ok, let's see if I can break this one down:

-1 WMP for assigning reasonable chores for Lars
-2 WWP (worst wife points) for no crosstalk over husband's interaction with the boys
1 WMP for the "No Shirt, No Dinner" Rule
1 WMP for warnings at 15 and 10 minutes, 15 seconds
1/2 WMP for "no shouting"

Your net score is 1.5 WMP and -2 WWPs.

karen said...

Good thing this isn't the Worst Wife page, eh?

Epiphany Alone said...

Yeah, yeah. You just say that because you can't compete. ;)

Sister K said...

this might not work for too long when they figure out they don't want to eat what dinner's gonna be. maybe next time just make them have brussel sprouts or lima beans & liver while you have steak. THAT would score some WMP in my book. or let them eat dinner but make them clean up your plates :) curious. did it work for the next time?

karen said...

@epiphany: WW is a whole different game...and I think I'd be afraid of the judging!

@ sister k: You forget that my kids will eat just about anything that's set down before them. Also, I refuse - absolutely! - to make two meals. If they get liver & onions, that's what Chris and I are eating, too. There is one meal, you eat it or not.

For the record? Ross has been reasonably attired and Lars has set the table - without being told - every day since the dinnerless one!