“Are you finished?” the waitress asked.
I looked down at my half-eaten swiss cheese omelette. Three plates were already piled on top of it.
‘It didn't get much more finished than that’ I thought as she lifted up the rattling tower of breakfast dishes. She was still waiting for my answer, her gaze smiling after my children who had just left with their father.
“Oh … I'm finished. Thank you,” I said and went back to finishing my coffee.
“So just the two, then.”
I laughed. She wasn't talking about food.
No matter. My answer was still the same: “Oh yes, two and through.”
It's rare that we go out for breakfast. One child only eats bacon and sausage and the other refuses to eat anything but chocolate and air. Trying to coax them into eating something relatively healthy, at least for appearances sake, doesn't usually make for a pleasant meal. For anyone.
She'll ask for juice, but she'll twist her mouth and scrunch her nose at all the offerings.
And while she's deciding, he'll drop his knife … and then he'll drop his fork.
She'll want syrup with her plate of cholesterol, which is masquerading as meat.
Having retrieved his fork and knife from under the table, he'll drop them again.
Then he'll ask for yours.
The food will arrive and be inhaled … literally. There will be no noticeable depreciation as they declare themselves finished and ready to go.
“Eat one more bite,” is the mantra I've adopted through each and every meal since they've been chewing on solid food.
It's also rare in these moments to have the luxury of finishing a cup of coffee while it's still warm There's always a game of 20 questions aimed in my direction. …
“What are we doing now? Are you finished yet? What are we doing next? Are you finished yet? Can we go now? I'm done. Are you done yet?”
The more I think of it, the more I realize it's usually a variation of two questions asked 20 or more times.
“When I'm finished with my meal then we will go.” This is neither a satisfactory nor satisfying answer.
“But when will that be?”
“Soon. I'll be finished soon. Try to be patient.”
My husband is just as eager to get moving. He knows from experience that antsy children are just one outburst away from potential implosion. He's failed at noticing the warning signs before, and he's none too excited about witnessing a epic meltdown.
I don't blame him. Time is something that only moves slowly when you're looking forward to what comes next.
When it's not something you relish, time spins out of control.
It's the biggest cliché going, and I'm living it. Not too long ago, these tiny people begging me to finish my breakfast weren't even thoughts in my mind. Now, I'm fairly certain I won't recognize them by the time I pay the check, pull on my coat and walk the two blocks to the library to meet them.
My children won't even be there, I imagine. The librarian will inform me the girl had gone backpacking through Europe and the boy was in just last week with his own kids. She'll console me by directing me to the audiobooks, where my husband will still be searching for the latest titles.
He'll be grumbling something about the how few adventures are left.
But, as usual, I am getting ahead of myself. Failing to live “in the moment,” as it were. I rush ahead to a future I can't fully imagine for no other reason than the present is what I've been coaching myself to “get through.”
Of course when I get there, the children are as they'd left me, knee-high and needing help reading titles. When they see me they drop everything and run toward me. In this moment I don't need reminding that the present isn't just another chore … it's a gift.