For the last several hours I'd been thinking about a particular container of leftovers -- the ones that I would have taken to work yesterday if they hadn't had meat or it hadn't been Friday. I was going to eat them for lunch. They were mine. But first I was going to get the dishwasher going, because it's a busy day here with MrsDarwin singing at two confirmation masses and then the need to get the family to vigil mass since I'm heading out of town to a conference tomorrow, and I was going to be just that virtuous and efficient after having slept off the effects of writing till 2AM.
Just as I was finishing with the dishwasher, my son and heir strides into the kitchen, inspects the fridge, and takes out the coveted container of leftovers.
"Can I have this for lunch, Dad?"
I pains me. I wanted them. But I tell myself: I'm not going to be the kind of dad who makes his kids eat something else so he can enjoy all the treats. Even if I did finish the ice cream the other night when everyone including MrsDarwin was in bed. That was different. There wasn't enough to share anyway. There's probably something healthier I could eat for lunch anyway, and going to a conference always presents the danger of taking too much at the buffet line.
"Sure, son. I'll heat it up for you."
I felt good as I handed him the bowl, hot from the microwave. I felt like I was doing the right and generous thing. Maybe I'd eat a salad. I was just that virtuous.
The young man goes happily off with his bowl, eats two bites, then marches back into the kitchen and says, "I'm done. Can I have a popsicle now?"
I wasn't angry. The heavens had blessed me. Now I could eat the coveted leftovers even though I'd selflessly given them away. The reward of the just. I hurried off to give two more kids their sandwiches, already tasting those leftovers.
As I returned to the kitchen he had just finished scraping out his bowl into the trash, where it mingled with my morning coffee grounds.
"I cleaned my plate. Can I have the popsicle now?"
Rage that I should have just been selfish and eaten the leftovers myself. Rage that I was really being just about as selfish now. And rage that we ever let those damn freezer pops into the house that people have been harassing me about all morning.
Go, son, into the outer darkness! No, you may not have your popsicle now. You may have it when your father has recovered from the urge to strike you and when you have waited out the penance for your own hastiness and waste.
I was making peanut butter sandwiches for the last of the lunch crew.
"Where is Mommy?" demanded our youngest daughter, age four.
"She's upstairs nursing the baby before she has to go sing again."
The young lady collapsed on the floor wailing. "Why does she have to be up there? Why does she have to feed baby? I don't like baby! Why do we keep baby."
"We keep baby for the same reason we keep you, because we love you."
"But all he ever does is cry!!!" she screamed, kicking her heels against the floor.