Late this afternoon the older kids were getting ready to make cookies with their mom, the twins were in their high chairs snacking on green beans (one of their favorites), and baby princess had just finished nursing. It was an ideal time for me to beg a nap off my wife. To her credit she let me fade to the bedroom with no fuss whatsoever.
Fast forward an hour or two.
My wife woke me up to help with the screaming twins. No problem. When my wife lets me nap I feel like doing anything for her, so it didn’t bother me a bit to stumble out of bed in an I-just-woke-up-to-screaming-toddlers fog.
As I cleaned bean carnage off little hands and faces, I noticed the other children were starting to run amuck. Then when my nine-year-old wandered close enough I saw that crazy glint in his eyes. You know the one. The glint that says I’ve got a pent up gang of howler monkeys up here just about to bust out, climb the furniture, fling poop, and of course howl. Clock check. Yep, it was already past dinner time. They needed some stabilizing protein stat.
While perusing the pantry, I found some cans of mackerel. Aha, quick protein! I knew my kids wouldn’t eat it plain (can you say cold dead boney fish on a fork five times fast?), so I Googled “canned mackerel recipes.” As usual, the internet was full of ideas from fancy exotic to downright weird. I settled on one that looked rather uncomplicated and promising. I sautéed some onions and a pinch of red pepper flakes, mixed up the mackerel well enough to hide the fact that it contained bones and skin, and added it to the onions. Heat, sprinkle with fresh ground pepper, serve on rice, and Voilà – dinner is served.
I gathered my hungry children to the table, served their food, and was rewarded with a heartwarming string of compliments like:
“Ugh. Can I have a drink of milk?”
“Um… I think I’m done. I’m not full, but I’m done eating.”
“Ew…Does this have mushrooms in it?”
“I had three bites. Can I be done now?”
One of the twins laughed at me when I tried to feed him a second bite; and his brother closed his mouth, turned his head and looked at me with sad don’t-you-love-me-anymore? eyes.
Now I have to admit the food wasn’t what I would classify as tasty; but it was definitely palatable…if you were hungry enough (which for my kids was apparently closer to starving-in-the-desert-and-having-to-choose-between-mackerel-surprise-and-rotting-lizard-entrails hungry, than being-two-hours-late-for-dinner hungry).
Even my wife, my nursing-a-newborn and always ravenous wife, explained with apparent sincerity that she actually felt quite full at the moment and would have to pass on the dinner offering.
Oh well. At least I got a nap.