In the early years, I took a lot of pride for feeding my kids nutritious meals. We had vegetables, a starch and some meat because I wanted them to be well balanced. I think I did okay on that front. Nobody can accuse my kids of being unbalanced. (Me? That’s a story for another day.)
They gobbled up what I set in front of them. Or at least I thought they did. Unbeknownst to me, there was subterfuge going on in those angelic little heads. My kids could display the most innocent looks possible — they made me feel like such a good mom. I thought I was just a little bit this side of June Cleaver. You know, she’s the one with the pearls.
Then one day I was cleaning up the dining area and just by chance I opened the slim drawer on one side of the green metal table. And what to my wondering eyes did appear but a bunch of wadded up napkins. Oh but they weren’t just any napkins. No sir. Each bundle contained a half-chewed mouthful of peas, lima beans and brussel sprouts.
There were lots of them. Solid as a rock like something out of the Flintstones. Dried up chunks of veggie regurgitation. I could see my kids now, covering their little mouths with napkins and trying to look so mannerly while all the time there was devilish behavior happening right under my nose. The little gremlins — no wonder they were giggling!
Now I was curious. I looked under the table and my eyes scanned the floor for anymore debris. All clear. But then I spotted a big hole in the fir floor. We lived in a 1925 Victorian home. It was a stately house, situated right next to the funeral home owned by Mr. and Mrs. Dye. (You think I’m kidding?)
Anyway, the kitchen had linoleum flooring that covered up a layer of masonite which was right on top of the knotty fir floors. We had taken the linoleum up years earlier. Then we tore up the masonite and burned it in the big, black coal furnace during the ice storm, hoping the heat would rise to the third floor. (That’s also a story for another day.)
That big knothole under the table went straight through to the basement. My motherly antennae shot up like a jack-in-the-box.
I hated going down to that basement. The floor was dirt. There were spiderwebs. And mice. Who knows what else was lurking in the dark corners.
I looked up to the hole in the ceiling, then looked down at the ground. Then I saw it, right in front of the furnace. It was a tidy little pile of half-chewed veggies wrapped in paper, like fortune cookies.
I love these memories. And now that my kids are grown and have children of their own, I should roll out this story just to give the little ones a few new ideas. I’d like to prove my mom right when she says, “The apple won’t fall far from the tree!”
I am so glad they no longer hide food or drop it into the basement! Although… have you checked under Kim’s bed lately?
You bet I will!