I open the fridge and Rory squeezes between myself and the food, points and shouts, “Eggs! I want eggs! Dad, I want eggs for breakfast!” in such a frenzy that I wonder if his mother has been feeding him. “Uh, yeah. Eggs sound great.” I pull out the eggs, the cheese, the jelly, the butter and some frozen meat that I throw in a bowl with warm water to try and thaw out.
Behind me, Quinn walks into the room dragging a doll in one hand and a medical briefcase filled with toy hospital supplies in the other. She shouts “Baby’s hungry!” and I assume that she is talking about her cabbage patch and not herself in third person… but one never can tell…
I ask her if she wants eggs and she suggests cookies and I say, “How about eggs?” and she says, “Noooooo! SEEER-EEEE-AAALL! I want cereal, Daaaaaad!” and I say, “….you want…..eggs then?” and she goes to the cabinet and pulls out some generic brand chocolate cereal. I stare at the bag and wonder why I’m fine giving her this but battle the cookie. I make a mental note to purchase something made strictly of bran next time I’m at the store… something with less flavor.
Jade gets down a bowl, pours the cereal, pours the milk and Rory says, “I want cereal!” and I say, “You want eggs,” and he says, “NO! Cereal!” and I say, “Should I make enough for both of us? Are you going to eat cereal and eggs?” and he gets really sad, like I’m calling him fat and just stares at the table. I say, “Rory… you can have both, I just need to know how much to make. Do you want cereal and eggs?” and he says, “Yes. I want cereal-” and then he stands up and shouts, “-AND EGGS!”
In a moment of pure inspiration, I fold a piece of bread in half, bite out the center, butter the edges, drop it in the pan and crack an egg into the hole; ah yes, a One Eyed Joe. I chop up the meat, fry an onion, toss some cheese on the Joe, make some coffee, flop it all onto a plate, jelly the toast / egg concoction, do it a second time and then sit down next to Rory, who’s just finishing his cereal.
“Bone Ape-tit,” I say and chuckle, remembering the popular SNL Jeopardy sketch. I hand him a fork and ask if he wants me to cut it up but he says, “No,” very adamantly. I say, “Okay,” and wait for him to change his mind. He stares at the jellied bread, pokes it once with his fork and says, “I don’t want the egg. Take the egg out,” and I say, “Too late, pal. The egg is hiding inside and it is (take a bite) delicious.”
He shoves the fork at me and says, “Cut it, please,” and I do.
ABOVE: “And this alleged “missing cookie” was what color, you say?”
As Quinn nears the end of her cereal – she’s a considerably slower eater because she stops every few bites to dance (whether there is music playing or not) – I begin feeding her bites of fried onion and sausage until my plate is scraped clean. “Dad,” she says, “Dad… I want more. I want more eggs. I want… One Eye Joke,” and I laugh at her mispronunciation and say, “It’s all gone. Daddy ate it all… but you could ask Rory for some of his.”
Quinn stares at Rory, realizing her fate rests in the hands of The Monster with Many Mouths and says, “Roar…” and he sticks a chunk of food in his mouth. “Roar, will you share?” and he sticks another chunk of food in his already full mouth. I say, “Rory, do you want to give Quinn a bite?” and, instead of responding, he just slams his fork into a chunk of toast covered in egg, picks it up, exams it, places it back on the plate and rubs it around in jelly, having decided that it wasn’t quite up to his standards and then he lifts the fork and……. hands it to Quinn. With a full mouth, crumbs and debris falling from his slavering maw he says, “Hee yu oh, Quee,” and she takes a big bite and says, “Tank, Roy.”
I give Rory a squeeze and I kiss his ear and I whisper, “That’s such a good boy! Thanks for sharing! You’re such a good sharer! Where’d you learn to do that? You’re so good!” and then he shoves another glob into his mouth and says, “Roy eaddin goo,” and I translate this as, “Rory eating good,” something else that we regularly applaud them for. “That’s right! That’s right! You are eating good! Eating good and sharing! You’re a good boy! You’re a good brother!” and then he sticks his fork back into the toast and gives Quinn another bite, back and forth, back and forth until the plate is empty and then they both go outside and play while I do dishes.
ABOVE: ME TRYING TO CONVINCE RORY THAT BEETS CAN’T BE BEAT!
At lunch my wife leaves to visit a friend in Burbank for the afternoon, which means I’m on kid duty solo; a daunting task for someone less experienced but I find that if I just put some frozen peanut butter in the dog’s Kong shell and toss it out in the dirt, they pretty much entertain themselves for an hour or two.
Quinn walks up to me and says, “I need a kiss, I’m going to work,” and I lean down and kiss her and say, “Gonna bring home some bacon?” and she says, “YEP!” and walks over to the jammed baby gate, blocking her from leaving the house and says, “Can you open the door for me, please?”
I laugh and suddenly my internal clock – which is typically wrong – starts telling me that 1pm (nap time) is approaching and I need to get on making lunch. I grab my phone, flip it on and see that it’s already 1:30…. and I still have to feed them…. and make the food… and they’re not going to be in bed until 2…. oh, dear.
Ah, well! It’s not everyday that…. I don’t know. I try to make a reasonable excuse for how behind schedule I am but nothing comes to my mind. Instead I just mumble something to myself about how play time is educational and then I watch as Rory tries running down the slide, trips, stumbles, falls, hits the grass and does a somersault. He lays there for a moment before standing up and holding his head, checking for blood.
I say, “Let’s eat!” and the kids come inside where I start making mac and cheese – that staple of youths and poor people the world over.
As we wait for the water to boil, I pull out my amplifier, plug in my guitar and let Rory strum on it for a bit but he keeps saying, “Too loud,” and turning the knob down, down, down, down, until it’s off and there’s just the natural acoustic noises resonating from the body. I try to explain the point of the amplifier to him but he seems more intent on just strumming. Quinn, meanwhile stands in the corner shouting, “Spider! Spider! Daddy! A SPIDER!!” and I keep saying, “Don’t worry about it!” and then Rory has found a giant boot and is putting it on, presumably to smash it. He stands by Quinn and she points and Rory doesn’t see anything so he gets down on his hands and knees and begins to investigate.
Fearing for them finding a black widow or brown recluse, I put down the guitar and kneel down beside them. “Where?” and Rory says, “Under mom’s shoe!” and Quinn says, “Under the floor!” and I look around, turn up nothing and walk away.
The noodles are ready, the powdered and processed cheese is dropped in along with milk, butter, salt, pepper and love. I pour one-third into a small plastic purple bowl for Quinn and one-third into a small plastic yellow bowl for Rory and, because I hate washing dishes, I just eat my portion out of the the pan.
I sit down next to Rory, who hammers through his lunch so fast that I have to wonder if he did hard time in his past life. He turns to me and says, “MORE MAC AND CHEEEEESE, PLEEEEEZE!” and I say, “Listen… I appreciate you saying ‘please’… but there is no more mac and cheese,” and he drops his fork and wails and says, “NOOOOO! I want more Mac. And. Cheese! and I say, “I’m sorry, but that’s all we made. I’m going to clean up now,” and as I carry his bowl away from him, I see Quinn standing on the bench and swaying slowly to no music playing anywhere and say, “Hey, Rory… maybe you could ask Quinn to share a couple bites with you,” and I see her open her eyes, filled with panic, and I say, “… since you gave her all those yummy breakfast bites this morning.”
This statement has a strange effect on Quinn. She sighs and sits down and says, “Here, Roar! You want some mac and cheese?!” and he walks over to her and she feeds him a bite and then another, and then another, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth until their lunch is gone.