“What do you want for breakfast? We have oatmeal, mini-muffins, and peanut butter and jelly.”
“I’ll have mini-muffins!”
“Or do you want the tofu left over from last night?”
“I’ll have mini-muffins and tofu!”
I placed two garbanzo muffins on his plate and took the tofu out of the fridge. If you’ve read anything I’ve written, you’ve probably figured out I’m talking about Benjamin here, because there’s no way Zachary is going to eat spicy peanut-butter tofu in the morning. Or the afternoon. Or with a goat or on a boat.
By the time I had transferred the tofu into a pan that would fit in the toaster oven, Ben was off his stool.
“I need more rubber bands. Lilah has six and I only have five.” I looked over. No one had any rubber bands.
“Benjamin, sit down and eat your breakfast.”
Standing on his tippy toes, he reached for the cabinet where the rubber bands hang around a knob. “One of mine got dirty yesterday, so I only have five.” He managed to disentangle two rubber bands.
“Now go sit down and eat.”
He headed to his seat, asking, “Lilah, do you want a rubber band?”
“Mama, I need a purple rubber band,” she whined.
“This is why we need to stop with the rubber bands in the morning,” I replied, pulling off the last purple one. “Just sit down and eat.”
“Mama, can you move me to the table? Can you move all this stuff?” Her hand waved out to indicate the kitchen counter, strewn with the flotsam and jetsam she carries about with her. I moved the oatmeal, milk, and one blankie, then turned back to my morning tasks
The tofu was heating. The lunches were packed. I poured myself a glass of milk and looked up. Benjamin was not in his seat.
“I need more rubber bands.”
“Where are the ones from yesterday?”
“Oh. They’re in my coat pocket.” Sudden change of direction towards the coat closet.
“Mama, I need all my rubber bands.”
“Would you both just eat?!”
“You know, Lilah, you can’t always have everything you want,” Benjamin intoned wisely.
My husband walked in and began making waffle batter for Zach’s breakfast. (It sounds worse than it is; while he does make it from scratch, he only makes it twice a week, and it’s pretty much Zach’s only source of protein.) I mixed raisins into my oatmeal and set tofu in front of Ben, humming the Rolling Stones.
“Dada?” Benjamin said. “I didn’t ask for this tofu.”
“I’m going upstairs… to do… something,” I grunted.
As I fled the room, I heard J replying, “It doesn’t matter, Ben. It’s a healthy breakfast.”
I was upstairs five minutes. I put on running clothes and opened blinds. I came back downstairs. Benjamin was eating a banana.
Zachary wandered down the back staircase, sleep still in his face. “Mom, Dad. You know what I found in the dress-up clothes yesterday? I found my old Taggie.”
“So that’s where that was.”
Benjamin dropped his banana on the table and leapt out of his seat. “I didn’t pick a costume yesterday!”
“Benjamin! Get back in here and eat your breakfast!”
“Just a minute. I need to look for a costume.”
“We are not going to the Megillah reading tonight, and the Purim carnival isn’t until Sunday. Right now, your job is to finish breakfast.”
J began to put on his shoes. “Dada! I need to give you sixty hugs and kisses before you go.” Sixty hugs and kisses. “Does my banana look like a moustache?”
“BENJAMIN! There are children in this world who do not have enough to eat this morning,” I began.
“Oh, this line,” my husband murmured.
“So, sit down at the table and appreciate the lovely food you have.”
Benjamin sat down. J put on his coat. “You know,” he mused. “I must have been a lot like that as a kid, because I remember hearing that line a lot.”
I turned to look him full in the face. “Call your mother today and apologize.” He laughed. “No, I’m serious. Call her and say you’re sorry. I’m going to check up with her and make sure you did it.”
So, I put this post up by way of asking my mother-in-law: has my husband called you to say he’s sorry for every morning you wanted to apply Super Glue to his butt? And – more to the point – since he now seems capable of sitting in a chair and eating, how did you teach him to sit the fuck down and eat his breakfast?