Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Kids' Table

When I think of Thanksgiving, I remember the innocence of the kids' table. 

I remember a mysterious set of arms - sometimes my mother's, sometimes not - would rotate around a tiny table of small children and cut the turkey and ham into digestible pieces. Mashed potatoes and cranberry jello salad were suitable art medium and the pristine, dreaded dress clothes never lasted long. We were farm kids; a stain was bound to happen. Food stains were a badge of pride at the kids' table.

I remember sitting with a small group of semi-strangers - the ones I only saw at major holidays such as Easter and the county fair - and watch them eat like drunk, teething, Jack Russells. I remember thinking how gross they were as I wiped gravy off my chin and deviled egg filling off my sleeve. It was a caloric massacre. Food everywhere. The floor. The table. The walls. Inside the creases of Clark's arms. 

I remember sitting at the tiny table long after the others had left because I had to clean my plate in a way that resembled an apartment with the goal of getting the full deposit back: spotless. I don't remember licking my plate in order to go play, but I've blocked out some parts of my childhood. To this day, I get paranoid that Dear Ol' Dad is watching when I throw my plate away. 

I remember eating and keeping one eye on my plate and one eye on the toy calling my name. Today that "toy" looks more like the couch or even better: The Original Jean's lift chair. 

I wish I hadn't been so eager to move to the adult table. Moving there was the first phase of childhood lost. 

At the adult table the drunk, teething, Jack Russells were traded for adults who knew only how to discuss the milk, beef and pork markets, the never-suitable weather and health insurance. Worst part about the adult table: I couldn't even reach the butter.

Thanksgiving today hasn't changed....too much. 

I still plan to sit at the adult table and discuss beef and pork prices, cuss the weather and discuss health insurance. I'll stand in the food line with 60 others and watch with longing eyes as the tiny tyrants at the kids' table stare at a full plate then proceed to only eat one bite of pork, a roll covered in ketchup and ice cream pie. They don't know how good they've got it. 

These days we eat in shifts, because let's be honest: No one can truly enjoy a meal when you have spit up running down your arm and you're constantly raising a baby over your head to sniff out a diaper check. Thanksgiving in this phase of my life means I only put things on my plate that I can cut with a fork. Spoons and knives don't exist in a new-mom place setting; there aren't enough free hands for either.  

Unless, of course, Momma offers to hold Crazy Train and I can eat with both hands. If thats the case, I'll be relocating to a secluded second-floor closet where I can eat in peace, with two hands, and maybe even use a knife to cut the brisket. I may even have time to get a drink. With ice. If I eat fast enough, I may even have time for a nap. 

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