Now it almost — almost! — seems like a different world, a different time.
Whenever I ask the kid, age 7, what she wants to eat, she usually pipes up: “Sushi!” Then we can go out and have a lovely evening giggling and chatting and using chopsticks like we’re freaking professionals. At home, we’re huge proponents of no-screens, just-family-time meals. We sit around the table laughing and chatting and happily munching on something ridiculously healthful and green. (This is what happens when you live with a triathlon lover … sorry, family!)
It’s bliss. It’s fun. It’s, dare I say it … not messy.
But oh, there are still times I watch the kid eating some new food, some new wonderful recipe, and I can see her eyes light up with delight or her lips purse with dissatisfaction, and it brings me immediately back to all those firsts — firsts that feel so far away now, so forgotten.
The first little circle of cereal when her eyes got big and her mouth worked feverishly, as if to say, “What is this magic food, and why have you kept it from me?”
The first bit of fruit and the delight of sweetness.
The first bit of lemon and the mad squinting of, “What have you done to me?”
When she was a bit older and into books, we read all about Eloise at the Plaza and the independent adventures she had gallivanting around the enormous hotel. My daughter wanted to do something similar, so we got dressed up like Eloise and hit the town, stopping at The Palace Hotel in downtown San Francisco for high tea and adventure.
Imagine high tea with an excited four-year-old. Indeed, we forgot our white gloves.
Sure, our table looked like a mess afterwards — some spills and a solid shellacking of crumbs. She did her best, but her hands couldn’t quite keep up with her brain. But good lord did we have fun. That is a mess worth having.
I’m reminded now at the dinner table just how much fun we’ve had over the years when it comes to dining together. I’m wistful looking back at all those firsts but think of all the fun we still have together and find joy in all the new firsts yet to come. It can be messy sometimes, sure, but family and food can cast a magic spell of wonder and memories.