The moon is high over head, and the picnic table is illuminated by a citronella candle in lieu of the campfire we are without. Forest fires have been spreading across other parts of the country, and the intense outside temperatures heating the air are such tonight that even a flicker of flame caught on a log might have ominous consequences. So, we sit in the glow of the candle, with a little help from the brighter light of a propane lantern hanging outside the screened gazebo. The three of us whom are sitting at the picnic table have just been presented with a heaping plate of just-from-the-oven hot nachos. The cheese and green onion are evenly divided so that each chip has just the right amount of dressing for that perfect taste sensation. I eye the homemade salsa sitting before me in an open mason jar, ready for dipping. And then, I look for that perfect chip. I am just about to raise a mouthful of gooey goodness to my lips when three little golden-haired heads appear eyeing the food on the table.
These heads belong to little people quite familiar to me, but they are not entirely welcome to partake of this spread. At this time of the evening, my patience for entertaining anyone under the age of 18 years of age disappears as do my dirty suds from the supper dishes down the kitchen drain. Up until this moment, the children had been sitting quietly with their friends watching a television show inside the camper. They were out of sight, contentedly enjoying this cozy evening activity, thus allowing me to entertain the thought that perhaps, maybe (?), we four sitting might have a little adult conversation this evening. It was just a passing thought at first, a thought that germinated to full-blown, ‘this-might-be-a-real’ possibility, when I lifted that first chip to my mouth. No sooner had I swallowed my first bite when I saw those hungry, dark little eyes boring holes through my evening snack, and I realized that there might be a kink in the plans.
Suddenly, those nachos which looked so close- now looked so far away.
I realize that what I do next to solve my dilemma is a departing point for some. For I could do one of two things. Let them “eat cake” or tell them to “take a hike”. I consider both, and then decide upon a third option. I leave, and head back to our own camper where the snacks are not as plentiful. In fact, the chip bags of which I did buy four, are now non-existent except for two that have two inches of crumbs at the bottom, and perhaps another inch of sand. However, I try to convince myself that I am a ‘good-enough’ mother because I am still trying to make this work. I am foraging for food for my children. Even though my own nachos are cooling (i.e. being eaten by my husband) as I rummage in the dark for anything else that might suffice. I am searching for something, anything that might equal in junk food value the excellence of a cheesy nacho. And I am coming up extremely short-handed.
I grab the almost empty bag of sour-cream-and-onion chips and head back to the camper we are visiting this evening. I present the chips triumphantly to my oldest daughter. She takes one look at the bag, turns up her nose, and says disdainfully, “No thanks.” I guess she has more discerning taste than I give her credit for. She looks at me as if I have just passed her a plate with raw liver jiggling on it. If looks could kill, I’d be dead. And I guess so would she because I am also giving her my own perfected version of the evil eye. It is a showdown of wills measured in extreme proportions.
Undeterred, I am still unwilling to offer up my nachos, so I do the unthinkable. I tell my three munchkins, more or less, “too bad, so sad.” And I send them packing. Or rather, I send them back to the camper from whence they came. And I turn hungrily back to what was the mound of nachos.
And I am flabbergasted.
The nachos are now cold. All the cheese has hardened into a gelatinous mound underneath the chips. There are no more green onions. The salsa is mostly gone. My good mood has also departed. My friend offers to make some more nachos, and then make another batch for the kiddos, but I do not wish to have her slaving over the food all evening just to keep the peace, so I bluntly tell her no. She looks at me and says, “You’re a tough one,” with a look that is one part incredulous and one part amused. She tries to break me, but I am now just flat out annoyed about the whole ordeal. And wishing that I had just let the three of them eat the blasted nachos in the first place, because it would have been a better solution for everyone involved.
Who ever thought a little nacho platter could wreak such havoc on my mind?
*And lest anyone think I am a mean mommy, there is an epilogue to this story: the following night, we again tried to do a re-write of the above infamous night, and this time, I invited the kiddos to eat the nachos too. They were soooo much better when we all got to dig in!*