Friday, August 16, 2013

The buffet is open. And empty.

Psalm 51:16 (NIV)

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
   you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
The last two days have been something of an eating bonanza for my children. Both afternoons Kristie has sent me a note to report all the food she prepared for our brood. On Thursday it was eight scrambled eggs, two bowls of tomatoes, a nearly complete tube of summer sausage, two slices of Colby jack cheese, two popsicles and three tubes of yogurt. Today she reported serving nearly two pounds of strawberries, popsicles, spaghetti, noodles in chicken broth, marshmallows, cereal, more popsicles and more summer sausage.

That’s just the afternoon noshing — it doesn’t take into account what we actually made for dinner or the other foods they managed to put away. Last night after his shower Max asked if he could have a bedtime snack. I told him no, that’d he’d been eating all day and it was too late. He outed himself as a “bottomless pit” (his words) but relented and let me get him ready for bed. Reading these lists from Kristie each day is about like recounting what Eric Carle’s “Very Hungry Caterpillar” plows through on day six of his binge, except we have three of them eating with abandon.

Just a hint of what's been devoured at our house of late.
I don’t think the kids have any idea what their parents go through to put food on the table. And we’re not talking about earning the money, but the actual act of preparing food almost nonstop for an hour or more because as soon as one dish is ready to serve you have to start on the next one just to keep up with demand. The Venn diagram of the boys’ acceptable foods has a very small joint intersection. In the tiniest part of the center are things like chicken nuggets, popsicles and Goldfish crackers. So we’re almost always prepping at least two things, if not more.

And goodness, there is no pleasure in burnt offerings. Not only does this food have to be prepared 15 minutes ago, it also needs to be as flawless as possible or the picky eating tendencies will flare up and we’ll be stuck choosing to either eat something they

Of course these challenges will only intensify as Charlie gets older and then a fourth boy enters the scene. I’m going to look back on days I’d come back from the warehouse club with only two pounds of strawberries and four pounds of cherry tomatoes as quaint. I shudder to think how many Goldfish they could consume in a week if left unsupervised.

It’s not exactly a deep spiritual issue, but all of this food we (mostly she) prepares for them are opportunities to teach them about where the food comes from, the time effort it takes us to get it ready for them and about accepting such things with gratitude. That’s the ideal — the reality is sometimes you just shove as much food as you can in their direction and hope it’s enough to occupy them until you’ve at least cleaned up the dishes dirtied in the process.

At least when school starts next week there may be periods of calm when the kitchen can be silent momentarily. But when they pile off the bus each afternoon, I expect them to tear through the fridge and pantry like offensive linemen trying to bulk up for the big game. And it’s going to be like this for nearly 20 more years. I’m just glad we’ve been blessed with so many mouths to feed.

A prayer for August 16:

Lord, I am thankful for the ability to provide for my children. Sure, sometimes I wish they weren’t so selective, and I’d be thrilled if we could eat a quiet meal gathered around the same table once each night, but I don’t need anything more than their presence in my life. It’s such a joy to see their personalities revealed, to engage them in discussion and teach them about whatever they might be willing to learn. I’m grateful for the busyness and the happy noise that let me know I live in a home where love reigns. Amen.

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