I’d like to think that all our meals are healthy, all of them happy. The whole family gathered around the kitchen table, chatting, giggling, maybe thinking about which board game we’ll play afterward and oh shucks, first we have to eat dessert! A perfectly done Baked Alaska. Mmmm.
Then I wake up from the reverie and glance at the rearview mirror.
The kid is in the backseat, simultaneously tying her soccer cleats and stuffing her face. If they handed out ribbons for juggling a ball and a book while wolfing down a yogurt stick, she’d win. Hands down. That’s my girl.
Soccer days are all at once incredibly fun, incredibly frustrating, and incredibly messy. I have to pick up the child, age 7, from school and then rush all the way across town for an hour and a half marathon of sweat and tumbles. If I don’t prepare something she’ll munch on quickly, inevitably the practice turns to tears.
I have always been a proponent of the slow food movement — the crunchy, organic theme of sitting down together to share healthy food and each other’s company.
Then I had a child …
I’ve been loving all the stories over at Happy Family about family meal fun time and turmoil. Because life? it intervenes on all your well-laid plans.
True, most days we do manage to sit down at the table and eat something that at the very least doesn’t suck. But life intervenes. The kid has grown. She has her own appointments now, her own needs, her own thoughts on acceptable foods. Soccer practice days are always a challenge, between getting her ready and being sure she has time to chill for a bit, between giving her something she will eat and making sure it’s at least moderately good for her.
By the time we get to practice, she’s ready to roll, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand and heading to the field. I look to the back seat and see the detritus of an active life — the crumbs, the bags, the something sticky and good god, is it moving?
It’s weird how much I have grown to enjoy these makeshift, hurried meals. How we chat the whole way about school or friends or the next episode of Mythbusters. How we share a protein bar or gulp some toxic kale smoothie. How we, in the end, take the churn and rush of everyday life and try to make it fun. It may not be the family table and the food may not always be the best and good lord, the mess is usually on par with the scenes you think of when you hear words like “radioactive” and “spill.” But we have a good time. And then we get back in the mess/car and repeat it all again on the way home.