Fighting over bones

Confession: my family has eaten too much fast food for the last two weeks.

Yesterday, Fritz had a soccer game (they scored three goals which is awesome…except the other team scored 9). Since the game was in Tampa, Bill was able to come.  Since the game was in Tampa, the stop and go construction traffic meant he only saw the last 10 minutes. 

Afterward, we went as a family to the mall to shop for each other.  Bill takes half the kids shopping for me, while the other half shop for him.  Plus each child buys for one sibling (we draw names out of a hat).  I think the insane trip to the mall is what they will most remember in 20 years. I remember going with my dad to shop for my mom. It’s the fabric of family life.

We arrived at dinnertime, so we went to the food court where we had to go to 4 different places to please everyone. Bill and I had burgers from Five Guys. What a treat.

Fritz had pizza, which he’s really not supposed to eat because he has an overbite and braces to correct the overbite and the braces hit his teeth when he chews. He uses a knife and fork and is careful not to mash his jaws together. And he doesn’t eat the “pizza bones” – the crust.

I can’t remember which siblings ate the first crust, but Billy was hungrily waiting for the second one. Billy and Peter had eaten sandwiches from Subway. Just as I had done when we ate at Subway earlier this week, Bill restricted them to 6″ subs. And it was not enough for the growing boys.  Fritz was done and handed over the crust, but now Peter was claiming half for himself. They started to bicker, each expounding on why he was entitled to this scrap of food, and appealed to me to render a favorable verdict.  

“You split it,” I told Billy, “and he picks the one he wants.”

And then I saw the man at the next table throw his head back and laugh. He’d been watching us, this young dad with two little girls. Probably fascinated by my enormous family, definitely intrigued by boys, certainly curious about how the older, more experienced parents would handle this typical situation. I am just glad that, at that moment, the big girls were walking the squirmy tot around, I had finished a wholly delicious meal, and I was relaxed and mellow, enjoying sitting next to my husband while we waited for the kids to finish up. I don’t always have a good reaction to kid bickering, but the conditions were right and I was able to be the good mom when I needed to.

But can I just say how fatiguing it is to always be “on” – to know that there is always someone watching, evaluating, judging?