A question of degree

 

He's not really hungry an hour after lunch but it's a quiet moment.

Often, during quiet moments their father will stand in front of the open cupboard searching for inspiration.

The inspiration he seeks most usually comes in the form of biscuits and other treats. I notice that diabetics also seek the same inspiration during noisy moments, but maybe it's only solace?
“Why don't you make yourself a sandwich if you're hungry?” I mention rhetorically. He ambles reluctantly away from his mental crutch to begin sandwich assembly. I am busy in the kitchen, the very small galley kitchen. It is not possible to be furtive in a very small kitchen with two people, but that doesn't prevent him from trying.

Life partners are able to communicate without words. I look at his half made sandwich. The inch thick layer of butter is not beneficial to a person with high cholesterol and dodgy blood pressure. I look at him, so that the message will pass one to another. He sighs because I am a kill joy as he scraps of the surplus and deposits it back into the butter dish, crumbs, debris and all. I raise an eyebrow towards the contamination. His shoulders shrug as he removes the detritus with his knife. The knife, detritus and extra butter lie on the edge of the plate. I turn to hang up the saucepans. His body movements are entirely predictable as I see out of the back of my head. I flip around to see the knife whip out of his mouth. He is able to read my eyebrows; 'you'll cut off your tongue!' His first born son blunders into the kitchen, no doubt lured by the smells. He staggers about with the uncertainty of a drunk heat seeking missile. Synapses fire as he spots the butter dish and glides past with a co-ordinated scoop, duck and dive for cover sequence. Purposeful but wordless. I frown with disapproval, his father grins.

Now would seem as good a time as any to make an afternoon snack for all the hungry tummies that are about to enquire when the next nose bag will be available? A pre-emptive strike on my part. I assemble calories in a simple trough formation, chips and dip in the middle of the table and call in the farrow. I scatter Goldfish crackers into a bowl for the youngest, whilst I tutor his older sister in the art of table manners. It is a standard list of the 'elbows off the table' variety but lengthy none the less. With her as their role model, the boys, all of them, attempt to copy. Three pairs of additional elbows of varying sizes, slip off the table.
“It's not fair, why dontcha tell them to do it too?”
“Well you're doing such a great job of showing them how yourself!”
“You'd never let me do that!”
“Do what dear?”
“Like him!” she nods as her little brother.
“He's doing great too dear.”
“Huh?”
“Well, he's at the table, he's eating, there's no motor mouth……he's doing a great job!”
“Yes right!” I may not be all that quick but even I can detect the note of sarcasm of pre-teen attitude.
“Don't you think he's doing well? We'll be able to have another try at eating at a restaurant again?” The eye roll response is a little disheartening if not irritating. “Come on dear, you could try and be a little more positive when he tries so hard?”
“Fat chance!”
Well really! I turn to the little one stuffing in the last couple of Goldfish.
“You can use your good manners again in a restaurant can't you dear?”
“Yeph!” he sputters crumbs.
“There you go!” I beam at her.
“Mom?”
“Yes dear?”
“We can't go to a restaurant with him like that!”
“Like what?”
“Look!” she demands. I look. I see a nearly, seven year old, approximately sitting on his hunkers on a chair, fairly near to the table. Not static but not stimming.
“What? He looks great to me?”
“He ain't got no pants er trousers on!”

Clearly my bifocals and campaign trails are in need of a few more minor adjustments.

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