Rowan consumes, by my accounting, at least two-thirds of his daily calories in the form of a gargantuan bedtime snack. It’s often the only time of day where he actually sits still to eat, plowing through some variation on applesauce with raisins, with a chaser of plain raisins, a muffin or a piece of toast, a yogurt tube, a pear or a plum cut in sixths, cucumber slices, Manzanilla olives, shredded cheese, dill pickles, etc. You get the idea.
It’s work to get breakfast into him, and half the time his lunch bag comes home mostly untouched. He’s fairly decent about eating dinner, but his attention span at that meal is sometimes limited, and he’ll often excuse himself, saying, “Thank you for a good dinner and may you please save this for my snack.”
Yes, I may.
Rowan usually reads while he eats his snack, and sometimes, if I have the patience, I read to him. When I have the patience, I remember that this is a time-limited opportunity, this time to sit next to a nearly-eight-year-old and read to him as he sits in Halloween pajamas and pops olives into his mouth. He doesn’t really care what you read to him, just as long as it’s you and the book he has two hands free to eat. And so even though he’s reading the final installment of the Harry Potter series on his own at the moment, last night he pulled out that great children’s classic Slugs in Love, and handed it to me. And I read, his foot nudging mine.
And, really, you know, I didn’t have a whole lot of patience. I was kind of nearly out of patience, at the end of what had been a long day filled with a certain amount of, shall we say, attitude. But I sucked it up, and open the book, and began to read about the star-crossed slug lovers who have such a hard time finding each other. And I got to this passage:
Herbie was at his wit’s end. … [He’d] asked everyone he could think of if they knew her.
“I think she’s the greenish one,” said Homer.
“I think she’s the pinkish one,” said Jodelle.
“Maybe she’s the one who likes tomatoes,” said Adelaide.
“All slugs like tomatoes!” said Herbie.
I was tired. There had been many words used during the day, and I had few words left, and those words weren’t necessarily coming out right, and when it came to the greenish and the pinkish, what came out of my mouth was:
“Maybe she’s the penis one.”
And, after a small silence, we laughed. Oh, how we laughed. Me and my son, sitting at the counter in front of a cornucopia of food, giggling and giggling away like not one but two third-graders at the word penis, penis hee hee hee, snort.
And, all of a sudden, I had a wee bit more patience — enough to get through snack time and bedtime and beyond.