Some days I'd just like to cook dinner without tripping over my children and their toys. My kitchen is what is referred to as a galley kitchen. That's cute realtor talk for "size of a matchbox." There is almost no space. It's so small that I cannot have the fridge and the dishwasher open at the same time or the pantry and the oven door open at the same time. Tiny.
There are good things about a small kitchen. Every thing is always at arms reach; you can easily do two things at once, like stir something frequently while chopping veggies or washing dishes; it's relatively easy to find things because there are so few places to put stuff.
However, there are bad things too. Like, if I spill the tiniest bit rice or water I will need to clean my whole floor; I have zero counter space; there is only sufficient room for one person (okay, that's not necessarily bad, but it is an impossibility in my current life.)
Here is the thing: my children want to be with me when I'm cooking and there is just not space for them. They've never wanted my attention more than when I'm cooking (the only exception may be when I'm on the phone.)
I've tried a few things. When Oscar was a baby, I'd stick him in his high chair in the kitchen while I cooked. It was a VERY VERY tight fit, but it worked for a little while. I occasionally did the same with Miles when he was younger and that was okay. I also have phonics and farm fridge magnets that make noise and those are okay, but my kids are mostly over them. I've brought the art easel in there for them before, but when they are both coloring on either side it just takes up too much space.
So, here is what usually happens. I begin cooking dinner while Danny is still at our house. I can chop veggies, prepare marinades, assemble ingredients. This is good because the boys are usually occupied with Danny and leave me alone in the kitchen and I get an awesome head start. I have to peek out every five minutes to check on the boys, but that's preferable to children in the kitchen.
But, then Danny leaves and I have to finish dinner and for some reason my children are no longer able to occupy themselves.
Oscar and Miles will both try to follow me into the kitchen. Really, the are grabbing my pants and trying to get in front of me, usually causing me to trip and stub my toe or knock one of them over.
Once we are in the kitchen, they do a really good job of standing EXACTLY where I need to stand at any given moment. Given the size of my kitchen, though, this really isn't a difficult task to accomplish.
Then they begin whining for snacks which I refuse because it is 5:45! Dinner in 30 minutes! Just wait for dinner! Drink some water! You'll be fine! You can wait! I said no! That's one! I will time you out for whining, I will! I'll do it! Go play with toys. Go on.
At this point Oscar will leave the kitchen and return in seconds with every single matchbox car he owns (maybe 50 million?) He'll dump those cars on the floor and proceed to try and keep Miles from playing with even one of them. This usually ends with Miles screaming, and throwing himself on the floor. If I'm lucky, Miles has managed to slam his head on the cabinets or radiator during his tantrum to add injury to his insult.
Obviously I have to pick up wailing Miles and he will instantly quit and begin demanding every thing on the counter (knives, raw chicken, scraps of food, my dignity.) I'll put him down so I can make dinner and he will insinuate himself between me and the counter and begin pushing against me with all of his strength, which is considerable for toddler of his age. He'll probably force me back a few steps causing me to slip on a matchbox car. I won't fall (there's not room) but Miles will likely land on his bottom and begin screaming and Oscar is going to start screaming because I stepped on his car.
I'll try to regroup and ignore all the freaking out over nothing, but Miles will start trying to climb back into my uterus and Oscar, sensing my weakness, will begin pulling on my pants demanding snacks (again.) Then I will try to move, and possibly escape a few feet to the pantry. Once I open the door, Miles is will try to get in front of me into the pantry and when I get what I need and back out of the pantry, I will bump into Oscar who is physically ON MY ASS.
Then Miles will have grabbed some pretzels and being waving them around and demanding that they be opened and Oscar will snatch them away and scream like a banshee and take off down the hall and Miles will dissolve into a puddle of tears and I'll contemplate either a) screaming; b) putting my head in the oven; c) why I though this whole "having kids" thing would be a good idea; d) serving cheese sticks and pretzels for dinner.
The dinner routine usually ends with me holding Miles and trying to cook one handed with Oscar following me so closely me that he's stepping on my feet, or I'm stepping on his. But, dinner gets made and plated just in time for my husband's arrival, at which point I sink into my dinner chair and shovel my food in at lightning speed so I can escape the dinner table for a few moments of not having another person physically on top of me. I don't even really enjoy the food I cook. And my kids probably don't eat it because of the pretzels and cheese sticks they ate five minutes before dinner and two minutes before I lost my mind.
So, yeah. Some days I just want to cook dinner without tripping over my children or their toys.