Annual Mother's Day dinner a joyful tangle of picky eaters, buffets, love

by 24britishtvMay 13, 2024, 3 a.m. 24
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I like Mother’s Day because not only do I get to enjoy watching any movie I choose without a running commentary from other family members, it is also one of the few days we all go out for dinner together.

I do think it would be nice if the two reasons I get to celebrate Mother’s Day would come to an agreement about where to have dinner BEFORE the big day, but since that hasn’t happened yet, I’ve had to take matters into my own hands.

Our sons aren’t picky eaters, not like when they were toddlers, but there has never been a menu consensus between them. One likes exotic food while the other is strictly meat and potatoes. One shuns seafood while the other slurps up oysters on the half shell. One thing they do have in common is that neither races their father to pick up the check.

Because Choosing a Restaurant Everyone Likes has been an ongoing battle since adolescence, we generally go to buffets where each palate can find something acceptable. We have tried nicer places with placemats and flowers, and we have tried fast food in cardboard boxes but nothing has beaten a buffet so far. It may not be haute cuisine, but at least there’s a lot of variety.

Having found a place to go, the second part of our family-eating-together drama rears its annoying head: the speed of eating, also known as the Eat Now, Taste Later syndrome, records for which are held by both of our sons.

The last time we ate out together, and I think it might have been last Mother’s Day, we went to an Asian buffet and headed off in four different directions to fill our plates. When I returned to our table, both boys had finished their first plates and were halfway through their second. By the time Mark got to the table, they were done and ready to leave.

Of course, they were polite (their mother raised them well), but it was still unnerving to try and work my way through fried rice and an egg roll under the gaze of four not exactly bored but clearly ready to move on eyes.

Mark felt it too and we each gobbled our meals, not daring to go back for seconds even though the peanut butter chicken was calling to us.

Our mistake was traveling together in one car, a practice that should be abandoned once your offspring hits college age if not sooner. There’s something inherently awkward about being in a smallish car with your full-grown kids, especially when they’re both well over six feet tall. It feels like having two gorillas or giraffes perched behind us in the back seat.

The only way we’d all be comfortable together in a vehicle now would be if we had an old school bus like they used to drive in “The Partridge Family.” Something with plenty of room for everyone to spread out, but that would be hell to park.

This year, we’ve wised up and will be taking two cars on our fabulous Mother’s Day outing. This will enable our sons to toast me with Pepsi products and leave as soon as they finish their Lo Mein. I am not in the least bit hurt that they don’t want to linger over dinner. I know they love me, and I also know they have limited attention spans, especially after watching “Mommy Dearest” — this year’s pick — with me.

After they leave Mark and I can slowly enjoy the rest of our meals and maybe even get dessert — after that second helping of peanut butter chicken.

Nell Musolf is a freelance writer based in Mankato. She can be reached at [email protected].

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