mommy and daddy are still eating
31 August 2002
A quiet evening, if you disregard the lonely howls of the poor pup chained out on a terrace next door. Dan and I sit at the dining table, enjoying homemade tacos slathered with lemony guacamole made from last Sunday’s farmer’s market avocado. Damian has eschewed dinner for a hunk of cheese and more play time. It’s a balmy summer night, we’re easy and he’s in a good mood.

But he doesn’t stay sequestered in his room for long. Soon enough he marches into the living room, announcing, "I'm going to play music while you're eating dinner."

He goes over to the piano, starts plonking. The music is dark and dramatic, probably a result of the fact that he's so short he can only reach one part of the keyboard, ie: the low end, the deep notes. Then again, he did choose where to stand. He’s not a tinkling high C sort of child. Dan comments, "Music aids the digestion." Digestion of what? Rocks? But it’s pleasant enough. Sweet. The intent matters more than the result.

But wait, there's more. Damian informs us, "The music is coming from a radio. There's a radio here", pointing to the piano, "and there's a CD inside playing music." Damian, our very own live-in-concert CD.

But all good things come to an end. "I’m done playing music. But Mommy and Daddy are still eating." Hmm. "If I go pet kitty, maybe Mommy and Daddy will stop eating."

Damian disappears into the living room, beyond my line of sight. Presumably Dante gets his fur ruffled.

Soon enough, Damian returns. "Mommy and Daddy are still eating. If I eat myself, maybe Mommy and Daddy will stop eating."

He takes a bite -- his first -- of his lasagna. Peers over at us. Nope. Didn’t work. "Mommy and Daddy are still eating. If I go spin my wheel, Mommy and Daddy will stop eating."

Off he trots, returning with a huge inflatable blue cushion, the ottoman to a matching inflatable chair that sadly lost its bounce when some stray kitty (well, okay, Dante) decided to find out if it would pop when he stuck his claws in. The ottoman has since become a car. Damian’s car. Which he drives to work. Just like Daddy in his blue car, you see. And now, it seems, the car has morphed or rather shrunk, lost its (imaginary) extraneous parts and become that simplest, purest of human-made forms, a wheel.

Damian rolls his giant spongy wheel through the dining room and into the living room. Mommy and Daddy are amused but continue to enjoy dinner.

Time for drastic measures. Damian gives us a severe look from beneath his long eyelashes. "Mommy and Daddy are still eating. If you don’t stop eating, Mommy and Daddy, Froggie’s gonna come."

Dan recoils in horror. "Oh no, not Froggie!" I try not to giggle. I fail.

Damian races off, returning with his Fisher Price airplane: a wide bodied jet, blue outside with yellow seats. Comfy looking. I wish Continental had such cushy seats. Inside this paragon of air travel sit three catnip mice: one gray, one beige and one bright yellow (so much for verisimilitude). And the pilot: Froggie. A tiny rubbery creature, small enough to fit in the palm of a preschooler’s hand. Dark purple. Stretchy. With googly eyes and webbed feet. Damian’s unlikely best pal. Or, as he sometimes refers to him, "My little toy friend."

Froggie’s here, let all sinners beware.

Dan has disappeared into the kitchen (coward). So I’m left to confront the dread Froggie. Who comes zooming up in his airplane to hover beside my chair. "You have to stop eating, Mommy! Right now!"

Completely cowed, I reply meekly. "Okay, Froggie." (That my plate was clear and my belly full was mere coincidence, I assure you. You must never trifle with The Power of Froggie the Omnipotent.)

Damian shifts voice from gruff to normal. "Mommy, come to my room and play with me."

Dan comes back into the room.

"Mommy and Daddy are done eating! Mommy and Daddy will come into my room and play with me!"

And so we do. After clearing the table. Which, of course, involves a long digression on all things kitchen. Life is never dull with an inquisitive and inventive four year old.

I love watching his brain work.

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