My husband of awesomeness took us out to dinner last night. As we were eating, thoughts came to me of how we eat at different stages in our lives. As I looked around the restaurant, I was humorously aware of everyone’s eating habits. This is from a female perspective — boys may be so entirely different, esp as they age. Feel free to interject your male side in the comments below. So here we go…
- Small child: We don’t even need a fork. We can stuff food into our mouths with one hand while holding our fork in the other hand. We drip it all over our chins and we do not wipe our mouths — ever. We seem to like it there. In fact, we squirm and protest when our parents try to clean us up.
- School-aged children: We have mastered the art of fork usage. We use our shirt sleeve or collar as a napkin. We talk with food in our mouths and laugh in such a way that the whole table gets to see our partially chewed food. We love the looks on their faces and get scolded for it, but we don’t care. It’s fun to gross people out. We also slurp, chomp, and make all kinds of disgusting sounds as we chew. Manners shmanners — who needs ’em?
- Young Teens: We are painfully aware of food in our teeth, on our face, and on our breath. We try to eat what everyone else in the cafeteria approves of at lunch time even though we’d really, really like to try the fried chicken patty, mashed potatoes, and green beans. We’d eat that at home, but never at school. Never would we be caught dead packing a lunch. Ever! Packed lunches are for field trips and nerds. Ok, so it’s pizza day again (cardboard pizza, but that’s what “they” are all eating too). Chocolate milk instead of white milk even though we looove white milk. Peer pressure keeps us in check and we don’t ever chew with our mouths open. The boys are looking at us, aren’t they? Ugh – this is so stressful.
- Later Teens on a date: We know the rules for never ordering spaghetti on a date. So that’s a given. No spaghetti. We won’t order much food at all. We’ll also just pick at it. We wish we could just suck it all through a straw anyway. Hey, that’s a good idea. We’ll just order fries and a milkshake. How can that mess us up or cause any blunders? We probably ate before we left our house so we will not be embarrassed by our growling stomachs while we’re at the bowling alley.
- Early Adulthood in college: We will eat whatever the heck we can get our hands on. We’ll gain 10 to 20 pounds our freshman year. Who cares? We don’t want to starve and pizza is the healthiest most well-rounded meal of our lives according to our health teacher in grade school. So it’s pizza and beer night again. The leftover pizza we’ll have for breakfast. Can’t beat it. It’s cheap and it can be eaten any time of day.
- Early in our marriage: We just eat and talk and make it social. We meet friends out after work and shoot the crap over loaded nachos and beer. We don’t care how we eat as long as it tastes good. We try new restaurants (fondue anyone?) and become adventurous (sushi bar). We have football parties with plenty of snacks, finger foods, and (of course) beer. We enjoy our new apartment and see how many people we can have over for a BBQ using our round charcoal grill we just got on sale at Odd Lots.
- Married with a newborn baby: Eat? What the? Who has time? We scarf down cereal as we walk around picking up toys, changing diapers, feeding the baby, bouncing the baby on our shoulder, singing lullabies in-between bites. We eat whatever is the quickest. We would DIE without our microwave ovens. Literally — we would DIE because we would starve! When our husbands come home from work we heat up cereal for them in the microwave and then cry when we realize what we’ve just done. If husband has any ounce of compassion, he’ll either cook dinner or order Chinese take-out.
- Married with toddlers: We just eat what they didn’t finish. Our new favorite is macaroni and cheese mixed with hotdogs and ketchup. Yum! Who knew that would taste so daggone good? When we’re out to eat we scarf down our food without tasting it because we have to help little Johnnie and hurry the heck up before he loses interest and starts crying because he’s sick of sitting in his high chair.
- Married with older children: Finally we can start to relax. We have funny conversations and correct them for talking with their mouths full. They order crazy things and we get a salad because now we can finally try to lose the baby weight we gained 10 years ago.
- Married with teenagers: We eat healthy and encourage them to do the same. They order a cheeseburger, hot chicken wings, and fries despite our best lectures about zits and fat thighs. They give us attitude and we try to enjoy ourselves anyway — even with the “silent treatment” going on across the table.
- Married with adult children: We FINALLYYYYYY get to enjoy a meal. We don’t eat as much as we used to, but we’re pretty sure it’s because we can take our time and enjoy our food. We make our meals social events once again; inviting friends for light lunches or going out to the fanciest restaurants for fine dinners. We stroll into the restaurant. Four hours later we stroll out. Our husbands use toothpicks as they walk side-by-side laughing and patting their full stomachs. We opt for the bathroom mirror where we pick our teeth and fix our make-up and hair. We smile at all the young moms who are frazzled and remember when we were them. Then we go home, read some more of our favorite book, and dream of our future grandchildren.
Life. It’s one grand adventure. Enjoy this Labor Day weekend.