15 minutes before dinner
" I want a cookie with frosting" Nico demands.
" Not right now Nico. We're having dinner soon." I reply
"NOOO!!! NOW!!" Nico shrieks, throwing himself against the refrigerator. Daniela rushes in. She starts hitting the fridge with her hand yelling "Ow! Ow!"
Did I mention that I'm trying to cook. And that my kitchen is smaller than an airplane bathroom.
"Listen, you can have a cookie after dinner, but now you need to leave the kitchen so mommy can cook."
"Fine, go cook. And don't watch me!" Nico barks as he opens the fridge and starts looking for the cookies with frosting.
Ok, fine. This can go down the hard way. I grab the cookies and put them on top of the fridge.
"If you are hungry, you can have a cheese stick or grapes. Dinner will be ready soon and you can have the cookie after dinner."
Max hears the cries since we are now louder than the TV and comes into the kitchen. If you're keeping track that is now 4 people, 2 of which are hysterical, in the world's smallest kitchen. Max and Nico begin to agrue some more about the cookie. Daniela is still slapping the fridge and yelling. Max drags Nico to his room, but this does nothing to calm him down. I finally cave and bargain with Nico. In exchange for stopping his screaming, he can have one Nilla wafer. Miraculously, it works. I give one to Daniela too and they both run outside. Back to dinner.
5 minutes before dinner
"Ok everyone. Start cleaning up." I yell.
Max stays on the couch, seemingly unaware that I've said anything. Nico is outside jumping on the trampoline in his underwear reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at the top of his lungs. Daniela is drawing on her belly with a magic marker. And Mateo is playing outside with the neighborhood kids. I start herding them in, one at a time, trying to get them to pick up their toys, wash their hands, etc... Finally I give up, sit down at the table where I've put everyone's plate, and start eating by myself. Whatever, I'm hungry.
I am eventually joined by the rest of the family. Daniela has brough her bowling game to the table and is busy lining up all the pins.
As soon as he sits down, Nico asks, "Where's my cookie with frosting?"
"I told you, you will get it after dinner."
"Aw...this dinner is yucky." he whines.
"Yeah, it's really disgusting." Mateo adds.
"What are you talking about?" I say nicely. "It has all kinds of things you like. There's meat and cheese and vegetables..."
"YUCK, YUCK, YUCK...I want a cookie." says Nico.
Max and Nico start to agrue about the cookie again. I look at Daniela and tell her to try some of her dinner to which she shakes her head and continues to set up her bowling pins.
Finally a compromise is reached and Nico agrees to eat 4 bites of his dinner because he is 4 years old. Make as much sense as most things he says. Then he will have a cookie. He eats his 4 bites and then changes his mind that he would like ice cream instead. You can guess what Mateo and Daniela did when they saw the ice cream.
3 minutes into dinner
We are all sitting, nicely and calmly, at our kitchen table. Max and I are eating the casserole I made. The kids are all eating bowls of ice cream. A peacful silence settles over us. Just the way I pictured my family Sunday dinners.