I’ve been sick. No, not COVID sick, thank goodness, but the seasonal head cold kind of sick. I count myself fortunate in that regard. Sick enough, though, to tell my children the other evening that if they went and got themselves showered, they could choose dinner that night. (Don’t worry, my husband was there. I didn’t send them off to flood the house alone.)
It took a while of me refusing to negotiate for other ‘rewards’ because I wasn’t down with taking them shopping for new toys just so they’d agree to bathe, but they finally relented when they realized it wasn’t a real option. Of course, the pair chose two different dinners before heading upstairs to clean the filth of the neighbourhood trail off their tiny little bodies.
They’d had a good day at school and playing outside with their friends and you could see it by the specks of mud on their faces and dirt under their nails. They were going to have to clean up regardless of dinner. Really, I just wanted them not to make it difficult for me. It worked.
I wasn’t up to cooking and I knew they’d think it was cool to choose their own dinners so I thought it was a safe bet that I could order in what they were after. Pizza and spaghetti for dinner it was.
Because it wasn’t a standard weekday meal, we let them bring whatever they wanted to the table along with them. Usually we try to stick with a no toys or devices at the table rule but not this time. One brought an iPad and the other brought toys.
Tired but trying, we gave them their dinner and they ate while they played with their various distractions. We went on to ask them about their days and obviously the conversation didn’t go well. One child seemed to conveniently forget everything that happened at school that day and the other gave one-word answers.
That was, until, I asked my kindergartener if she sang the Days of the Week song at school. In case you aren’t up to speed on songs that four- and five-year-olds sing at school, it’s effectively singing the days of the week to the tune of the Addams Family song.
“Yes!” my daughter replied, looking up with a grin!
For whatever reason, both her and my son began to sing and carried on through the entire song, which admittedly isn’t very long.
My husband and his quick wit asked: “what day do we eat on?”
My daughter, who knows her dad well, paused briefly then replied: “Days of the Eat!”
Her dad answered: “I was going to say ‘Chewsday’.
“Mine was definitely better,” she noted.
All of a sudden the toys were dropped, the iPad was pushed aside and it was back to an engaging family dinner.
“What day does the rocket ship launch?” asked my daughter.
“Sunday,” said my son, proud of his knowledge
“What’s the best day to make eggs?” asked my husband.
“Friday,” he said.
“No,” said my son. “That’s the best day to make French Fries.”
“Ya, that’s not funny, Dad,” my daughter added, as if they were somehow the authority on terrible Dad Jokes.
It was a delightful meal that I didn’t have to cook and I didn’t have to clean up after and that everyone actually ate. Sure it wasn’t the healthiest, or the cheapest thing I could offer but it got us through a time when I wasn’t up to producing more and what’s more, we had a great family chat on a night I’d given up on trying to make it happen.
It also gave me enough time to sit back and capture their quotes on my phone while their quick witted banter carried on.
After dinner was over and we were tidying up, I thought the conversation was over. Apparently it wasn’t.
After a few more cheesy days of the week jokes my husband finally got the last laugh. Or rather, the last groan.
“At the hockey academy they don’t learn the days of the week,” said my husband.
I looked at him quizzically as we cleared the table. (And, I should add as we did this that my daughter was wandering around the kitchen with a laundry basket on her head singing a Medley of Bon Jovi’s greatest hits, but that’s a story for another day.)
“They don’t learn the days of the week,” he repeated. “They learn the ways of the deke.”
The lesson I learned was to never try to out-Dad-Joke a dad.