Last night at dinner I issued my family an ultimatum. I slapped my palm on the table and glared at all of them. “I’d like to get through one night — one night — where we don’t talk about bodily functions at the dinner table.”
I mean really, is that too much to ask? I meal plan and clip coupons. I take nutritional needs into consideration and spend all day slaving over a hot stove. OK, not really. I usually plug in the Instant Pot.
But the point is, I work hard to prepare a healthy meal so that we can enjoy what is supposedly the golden hour of all things family related: dinner time. Yet at my house, we can’t get through one supper without mentio ning poop, pee, burping or farting.
Thankfully, after my mini-meltdown the night before, tonight’s dinner is going well. Everyone is on their best behavior. My teenager chews with his mouth closed. My 10-year-old doesn’t complain that we’re eating fish two nights in a row. My husband has refrained from feeding the poodle table scraps when he thinks I’m not looking.
“So,” I begin brightly, with high expectations. “What did everyone do today?”
“Our substitute for music was a math teacher who didn’t know how many strings a ukulele has,” says my daughter. “She couldn’t even sing. Where do they get these people?”
“It’s probably hard to find substitutes for music,” says my husband.
“I’m going to get some more milk,” my teenager says, standing up. “Anyone want some?”
“No, thanks.” I slice up a bite of salmon and absentmindedly bring it to my mouth before I consider the situation. “Wait!” I call. “Don’t drink the rest of the milk or there won’t be any for breakfast.”
“I would never drink all the milk,” he says with a smirk. “Never.” But he puts the carton back in the refrigerator.
My husband shares a situation that happened at work, and I do my best to follow along. I’m pretty good at remembering names of his coworkers, although I have no idea what he does all day. “Make sure to eat that salmon,” he tells our daughter. “That’s where the protein is.”
“And your milk,” I add, eyeballing her glass. “On second thought, maybe we should save that for breakfast.”
“What did you do today, Mom?” my son asks.
“Well,” I began, thinking back to a day that was packed with activity. “I cleaned the house, went to the gym and volunteered at school. Then I came home and wrote 2,000 words of the book my agent wants. But the bad thing was —” I stop myself just in time.
“The bad thing was what?” my husband asks as he feeds the dog a morsel of fish.
“Merlin pooped in my room,” my daughter blurts out. “It was everywhere.”
“Mine too,” says my son.
“Dang it.” I hang my head. “We failed again.”
Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as The YA Gal. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.