I adore my 1-year-old boy.
He is the easiest going baby with the finest disposition. He’s also gorgeous and smart. I crave putting him to bed and picking him up, his messy-haired-head nestled in my shoulder.
I love when he says, “Buh”, picks out a book and sits on my lap, his prompt for me to read to him. I can listen to a loop of him identifying his facial features: “no-ohs, mouh, eeya, eye, chee.”
But all this goes out the window at around 5:20 every evening when we sit down to eat. Eating dinner as a family sucks.
Until recently, we’d fallen into the habit of feeding the kids first, throwing their asses into bed and eating our dinner in peace after 7. Then for some God forsaken reason we thought we should eat more often as a family.
You know what’s better than eating dinner as a family?
Urinary catheterization is more enjoyable.
The baby is an absolute nightmare at dinner.
It’s not like we relegate him to the crawl space and feed him horse diarrhea. Quite the opposite. He sits at the table in a baby-safe chair because he’s now too good for his highchair, and we cook good food for him.
For example, tonight I am making my family picadillo, a traditional Cuban dish, and for a Caucasian Jew, I whip up a pretty damn good one.
As I slave over the stove, putting the finishing touches on the dish, the baby is already complaining like a shitty little prince.
He turns to me and moans, “Ugh! Ugh!” as if saying get on with it piss-boy. Hurry that dinner along.
Mind you, he has a full bottle of milk and crackers or some bullshit to snack on between complaints. And mind you, we spend all of our money and time keeping him and his turd brother alive.
I place the picadillo–which is typically a hit with both kids–on the center of the table, and the baby claws at it and intensifies his moaning to the point where he sounds like a sea lion at Fisherman’s Wharf.
“Ugh! Oooh! Ugh!”
“Hold on,” I say. “It’s very hot.”
“Hah-t,” he says in acknowledgement, yet continues to moan.
I drop a scoop on his plate.
“That’s not fair. I want some, too!” Says the five-year-old as though our number one priority is to starve him.
I sigh and mutter a “Jesus Christ” and plop some on his plate.
“Okay? Can Mom and I eat now?”
“Yeah you can eat now,” says the five-year-old. “Dad, you’re the nicest dad in the world.”
“Thank you. I think.”
The baby is eating, licking pieces of rice and ground beef off his dumb fingers. When my wife serves herself, he reaches for her plate and recommences the sea lion moan.
“It’s the same thing you’re having,” she says.
“Trrtah,” he says.
“What?” My wife responds.
I feel bad for my wife because she sacrifices her life for these mongrels, and it’s never enough.
“Buddy,” I say. “Leave Mommy alone and eat your dinner.”
“No,” he says and pushes his plate forward. Then he bangs his sippy cup on the table and smiles at me.
“No, no,” says my wife.
“Yeah,” says the five-year-old. “Shut up, you stupid baby. Fart, vomit, penis, vagina.”
But the baby is only getting started. He must be as disruptive as possible, so much so that when my wife tries to chew her food, he lunges at her and swipes away whatever’s in front of him.
“You,” I say pointing at him, “are a misanthrope.”
“He’s tired,” says my wife, somehow finding it in her to empathize with this varmint.
Tired? Tired of what? Being considerate? Tired of being a decent human being who lets mothers nourish themselves?
“Down!” He yells. “Down!”
“You want to get down?” My wife asks.
“Okay, but you need to let Mommy eat dinner.”
She takes him out of his chair, puts him down, and immediately he starts moaning for her to hold him.
And like most nights when we “eat as a family”, she props him on her lap and eats cold food.
It’s my night to put him to bed. He knows this and doesn’t like it. He screams and cries as I carry him away from the table because he wants his mommy so badly, who just can’t seem to please him.
“You’re lucky you’re cute,” I say, snapping on an overnight diaper. “Because if you were an ugly baby, you’d have a much harder time getting away with this shit.”
I pick him up, he snuggles his head on my shoulder, and just like that, he’s an angel again.
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