If one were to sum up my childhood in one sentence it might very well be: ‘Don’t touch that’. (A close second would be: ‘Don’t eat that’). I cannot remember or count the number of times I was told: ‘We look with our eyes, not our hands’.
The Mom has a special way, too, of making this even more difficult to follow, as far as rules go. Though, thankfully, this time round, I knew exactly what to expect.
When there’s a big dinner coming up, we all know that she’ll want to lay the table first. We don’t quite understand why she insists on doing this (because my siblings and I are very much prone to doing the opposite) but insist she does. Take Christmas, for example. You stumble downstairs, the morning of, knowing full well that you will find the table already set for dinner. A meal which will not take place for a good ten hours. You will be instructed – and by that I mean shouted at – to avoid moving, ruining, or otherwise touching anything. This makes it difficult for breakfast, coffee, and morning screen time to take place. The Mom cares not a jot: she is making Christmas dinner and the only acceptable response is abiding by the ‘don’t touch it’ rule.
So I sort of knew what to expect when I rolled into town this summer. Also, because, over the preceding couple of weeks, The Mom had been explaining–in great detail– what she was cooking. This was ostensibly so that I would know the extraordinary lengths to which she was going to on L’il Sis’ behalf (which I already knew because a) it’s The Mom and b) that’s how she rolls). But really, I think all this talk about delicious food waiting in the fridge and freezer was some kind of mind game she was playing: look what you have to look forward to eating. An exercise in delayed gratification if ever there was one.
Now, I suppose, if I were a bit more… usual, this might have been a bigger problem. But for reasons I’m not entirely clear on, whenever i’m at home, and someone finds me in the kitchen, the first thing I get asked is: Are you hungry? Followed by: Do you want me to make you something?
I give off the impression, I can only assume, of extreme incompetence in the kitchen. Which is partly my own doing, but I think my family is always sort of on edge when I’m on the prowl for food, mostly because they’re never sure if I’m eating my feelings or just hungry. Most people would be pleased to see their daughter hunkering down with a massive bowl of fruit, but not The Mom – this is because she knows how it’ll end. And as she’s a bit of a panicker, she expects it’ll end with hospital, not just me having a horrible bellyache. Thus, I am frequently told, when approaching fruit, ‘Don’t touch that’!
Anyhow, as is our custom, The Mom meted out what foods I could eat, and presented them to me at the table. Which was all fine and well until I smelled the bacon cooking. Which is not something I ever make for myself because it stinks to cook and I can’t cope with my bedsheets smelling like bacon. Taking my cue from the dogs who are always in The Mom’s favour, I hovered around the edges of the kitchen, trying to look as irresistible as possible, which is easier said than done. And frankly, my face is much easier to say no to than a hound’s. So I plied The Mom with my best trick, and tried to make her laugh. I managed to get one slice of bacon, which is more than the dogs got.
And after the wedding and brunch were done, I had my day: surrounded by an array of leftover baked goods and bacon, I happily munched my way through the following few days.