Friday, June 4, 2010

Under foot

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.

16 comments:

Stacie said...

My 2-year old daughter has been doing that to me for quite some time too. Fortunately, I have room to move in my kitchen. But it's between her and the damn cat. I can never figure out why melting down and/or being held HAS to happen while dinner is being made. Maybe we'll never know.

Amanda said...

OMG, this had me laughing like a maniac. My daughter is only 11 months, but she's walking and is into EVERYTHING. Our kitchen is also the size of a matchbox, but I doubt it would be any different even if the kitchen were supersized. She tries to sandwich her head between my legs and the lower kitchen cupbards, which always results in her toppling over, banging her head, and screaming. I can only imagine how mcuh more difficult it would be with two. Thanks for the laugh, though!

Heidi said...

My kitchen is much larger that yours and guess what - it doesn't make a darn bit of difference. Small will get between me and the counter, medium will hang on my pants and large will get up so close behind me he might as well be a chair. They're all grabbing, poking, touching, whining and just for added fun, bringing the large, needy and perpetually hungry dog into the mix. This is a recipe for disaster, three times a day. How do I manage?

It's called a martini.

Jan said...

The Young One was my third child and delivered via emergency C-section. The doctor was appalled that I requested, just as they we're about to put me under, "While you're in there, make sure this never happens again, okay?"

I know YOU understand...

JessicaP said...

I have a tight kitchen too, not as tight as yours though. The dogs are my problem but they listen unlike kids. This was not a huge issue for me but Brody still, at 7, feels the need to ask me seven bagillion things while I am cooking. He does it from the dining room though. My favorite is when I am whipping something and one of them asks me to sign a paper... REALLY! Maybe a meltdown is in order, followed by vodka!

ShilaL_Kappler said...

人不能像動物一樣活著,而應該追求知識和美德..................................................

Barbara said...

I'm with you. That happens at my house and we have a slightly bigger kitchen. No matter how much room they still play under your feet.

Stimey said...

Kitchens like that are tough. We lived with a tiny galley kitchen for a year and it was hard.

Also, making dinner is my least favorite part of the day. Especially when you go through all that and then no one wants to eat what you made.

Susanica said...

Problem solved! We will be delighted to leave Danny at your house an extra hour or so every night. Let's see? The boys will play. You get to cook with some sanity. Another bonus!I know you are a great cook, so Danny will get a nutritious and delicious meal. Oh, what the heck. Just toss him in the tub with the boys too. And can you put on those cute Dinosaur PJs before we come get him? What's that I hear? The sound of you going "aaarrggghhh!??" ;-) -Monica

Maybe its me said...

I feel your pain. Mikaela can be completely content playing in another room, but as soon as I start making dinner she's on top of me, pulling on my pants, pushing me away from the counter so I will pick her up or opening every cabinet pulling things out right at my feet. Most recently she has started opening the fridge and pointing and whining for things. Meanwhile Ben is asking me a gazillion questions and asking me to look at things he's playing with. After all of the effort, they rarely want what's on their plate. I feel better reading your blog and seeing everyone's comments! I am glad to know I'm not alone!

gretchen said...

Oh man, I'd go nuts! I have a strict "no one in the kitchen when I'm cooking!" policy. I get harassed about it quite a bit, but they like it when they get their food and it's delicious. I can't tell you how many times I've had to shout "There are two too many people in this kitchen right now!"

Keely said...

I do a LOT of slow-cooker cooking for that exact reason.

thebearandroo said...

I am loving Monica's solution to your cooking problem :)

I feel your pain, sistah. Our kitchen is average sized but they have to be UP MY BUTT every second that I'm in there. And if they aren't on the floor, they're up on the cabinets trying to stick their fingers into everything. Or standing on their chairs trying to reach. The best is when Carter starts picking up his toys & throwing them at me while I'm cooking. Or how about the day that he climbed up the stove & tried to reach for a hot pan? Or the other night when I stepped out of the kitchen for a minute & he pushed his chair over to the cabinet, climbed up, reached to the back of the cabinet, then walked into the living room & handed Chase a steak knife?

There is no winning with these kids.

Heather said...

Oh.my.god, I have never laughed so hard...I literally had tears running down both cheeks...almost woke the baby asleep on my chest from laughing ( and it took me a good twenty minutes to get him to fall asleep). I can SO relate...I live this every day...and more often than not feel like skipping dinner and throwing a bag of chips at Neil and saying "dinner's served". I have knocked Gia down countless times because she is right behind me or next to me every step I make. That part about crawling back into your uterus...priceless! You have a way about your writing that makes me feel like a fly on the wall taking it all in with my own eyes.

Casey said...

I hate trying to get dinner ready too. Well, when I do the cooking and not Jamie. I usually stick the kids in front of the TV with cups of milk which buys me about 10 min before Elliot comes in and starts climbing the counters/stove/fridge. We should just order in every day.

hpretty said...

God i know exactly what you're talking about. For the first year of my youngest wouldn't let me put him down, and it was worst at dinner time. i have cooked all manner of things, used dangerous knives, hot p[ans of water with a baby in arms because i couldn't take the screaming. It's not sensible, or logical, but the only way i could get through.
AT least i now have a bigger kitchen (curteousy of a recent building project) but i couldn't have lived with our tiny galley kitchen for much longer. sympathy goes out to you.

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