|Was this the problem?
So I made the soup. A basic and super-easy pureed vegetable soup. Very orange. I served it just to the kids and me on the early side, and left some on the stove for my husband.
It was the kind of family meal that makes me think I've botched everything entirely, that it's all been a big bust, that I should have known I could never raise children right because I am myself so deeply flawed. I won't go into detail like I did when my children used to throw themselves on the floor and scream about the chickpeas. But I will say that behaviors on display at the table included eye rolling, sarcastic needling, stern lecturing, humming, teasing, cajoling, bickering, sighing, outright complaining, sniping, whining, near-tearful indignation. Somehow we packed all that into a meal that lasted about 7 minutes, start to finish.
As for the soup: cloying. I don't think butternut squash is well served by the sweetness of pear. I wondered whether if we'd liked the soup a little more we would have gotten along better. I wondered if we would have had such a disspiriting mealtime experience with something we loved to eat in front of us, like, say, pesto pasta or takeout enchiladas or macaroni and cheese. I wondered if I'd forbidden Owen to use his allowance to buy a cinnamon roll at Starbucks at 4:30 whether he would have eaten the soup instead of sniveling. I wondered if I set the negative tone because I was tired and crabby. I wondered how my children will remember their childhoods. Et cetera.
Then I put on my coat and went to meet my friend Debra to see a movie, a monthly tradition. We saw The Descendants. And if you've seen The Descendants you'll understand why I suddenly felt slightly more okay about my own family.