“I think we’re going to have a grease fire. Honey. Honey?! Are we? You’re a firefighter. Can you tell me? Do we need the extinguisher?!”
“Mommy, get me a snack. I’m hungry,” my three year old whined while following me around the kitchen as I frantically flung open the windows. “I’m hungry. A snack. Snack. Can I have a snack? Please?”
“Anna, in just a second! Mommy’s trying to prevent a fire. Dave, do we need an extinguisher?!” Meanwhile, the baby is running around with an obviously poo-filled diaper. Whee!
My husband casually looked up from the laptop, where he was surfing truck listings on Craig’s List. “Oh…there’s a lot of smoke. Maybe.”
Maybe? Maybe?! That’s it! I wasn’t going to risk losing our house, or at the very least, inconveniently have to utilize our fire extinguisher just because I had a hankering for fried chicken. Burner off. It was going in the oven as baked chicken. My routine after-church Diet Mountain Dew had given me a little too much confidence on a Sunday afternoon.
“Mommy, my snack. Can I have ham? And cheese? In the living room? With baby sister?”
Oh, why not? Anything to get them out of the kitchen, where grease covered the stove and countertop, and smoke still billowed from the blackened piece of chicken in the pan. And besides, hubs and I were going to have to eat sandwiches now, anyways.
Several minutes later, I heard Anna’s feet pounding into the kitchen, and she breathlessly reported, “I have some bad news. Baby sister made a BIG mess! Come look.” I followed her running toddler legs, only half concerned. I mean, how much mess could be made with sliced turkey and cheese (Anna asks for ham, but she means turkey).
Wrong. So wrong. Erica had balled the cheese up in her little chubby hands and was sprinkling the crumbs all over the couch cushions (which were strewn about the floor as a picnic area). Not only were the cheese crumbs spread in hundreds of tiny pieces, but she’d begun smashing them into the fabric of the cushions.
“No, no, no!,” I yelled, frantically picking up pieces before she could grind any more in. I stormed back into the kitchen, and told my still-surfing husband, “That’s it! I’m so tired of cleaning this house only to have it destroyed again in five minutes. I’m tired of the filth!”
“Oh…there’s only one solution for that,” he said casually, still not looking up from the computer. Before he could explain, I started in on him, “I clean and clean and clean, and it just doesn’t matter. So don’t tell me I need to clean more!”
Calmly, he stated, “No, I was going to say we shouldn’t allow food outside of the kitchen anymore.” Oh. That’s all? And although I was frustrated from the fried chicken fiasco and cheese crumb catastrophe, I had to admit he was right. (He’s going to love reading this one.) But why had I not enforced this rule before? Because I just want my kids to eat, and I didn’t really care where. I was content to clean up their messes rather than struggle through a tough couple of days of enforcing a new house rule.
I’m not sure if it was the Diet Mountiain Dew induced energy rush I had, or the fact that my long fuse finally lit the stick of dynamite, but I knew this would be for keeps. I pulled Anna into the kitchen, and announced our new house rule. We only eat food in the kitchen. Period. No exceptions.
She whined. She cried. She flailed herself about on the floor. But an hour later, when she wanted a pickle, and I insisted she eat it at the kitchen table, she didn’t protest much. And she even put her plate in the sink without asking after she was done.
Maybe this momma bear needs to drink Diet Mountain Dew more often. But don’t poke her just to find out what happens.