Nobody likes obstacles.
And things we don’t like we usually try to avoid. On one level this makes sense.
If you don’t like spinach, you avoid it.
If you don’t like your crazy racist aunt, you avoid her.
You don’t like the idea of dying so we do things that will hasten the arrival of death.
Of course the Nietzchean creed of “that which does not kill you makes you stronger” comes into effect…but really wouldn’t you rather just roll the dice and not do that thing which is an obstacle and see how it turns out? How much stronger will you be for eating spinach if it makes you gag?
And so this is the way of the world. Avoid the obstacles and if we can’t avoid them – fight them.
This gives us the War on Drugs or the War on Terror or the War on Cancer…or anything really. We seek to avoid and vilify our perceived obstacles.
None of this was in my mind when S came to my table and asked
Do you have children?
I don’t but I didn’t feel that would be an impediment to offering her something creative to whatever her situation was. She hadn’t said anything yet but she looked like she was going to say something. And then it came. Almost in one big breath. All at once.
I have two kids. Two boys. I know this shouldn’t freak me out, but it does. It totally freaks me out. It makes me so angry. But we have so few dinners together and then they just ruin it. They just eat so fast.
They take these huge disgusting bites of food and finish dinner in five minutes and then they want to leave the table and go and play video games.
And then I scream at them. Every meal I end up screaming at them to slow down, to eat like a human being, to enjoy dinner, to spend time with the family and enjoy that. But they never do.
I know I shouldn’t be upset but I am. I know they’ll grow out of this probably. But why do I care so much?
S, replace the silverware your children normally use for dinner with clean garden shovels and shiny new pitchforks. And when they sit down to dinner seeing a regular plate of food with garden tools next to it they will obviously look at you like you have lost it. But you can just gently and calmly say ‘Boys, I realize that I have made dinner a really stressful place for you and I am sorry. If you want to eat your food really fast and in gigantic bites it shouldn’t be such a big deal to me and I have decided that I want to help you with that. Eat as fast as you want.’
Oh my God. This will totally work. I don’t need to fight my children. That is insane and wonderful. I want to go to a garden store. Now.