That's the dress code at our family meals. I long ago abandoned the Leave-it-to-Beaver dream where everyone sits nicely around the table passing the gravy, reliving the highlights of their day, and sharing what they're thankful for in life. No, dinner at our house is a more casual affair.
It starts with me doing nothing, because I haven't cooked in years. That's Geoff's department, and he does a great job. But I can't say the two youngest members of our family are sufficiently respectful or appreciative. They're usually only partly-clothed, though as noted above I've implemented a strict "no exposed anus" policy. I figure all other clothing is just a bunch of pomp and circumstance, so I choose instead to rely on CDC best-practices/the number one rule for dating people at work: don't shit where you eat.
The center piece of our table is a beautiful, eco-friendly floral arrangement from the local Whole Foods. Just kidding, we don't have Whole Foods in Juneau. But we do have markers, paper, cardboard, and glue sticks, all of which are unceremoniously pushed into the middle of the table to make enough room to eat there. Oh, we don't "set" the table, per se. We more just haphazardly grab plates, cups, and silverware from wherever we can find them with no guarantee of their cleanliness, and begin to serve ourselves dinner off its perch atop the kitchen island.
At this point, we all take our plates and "sit down to dinner." "Sitting down to dinner" means that everyone jumps up and down in a ten-minute game of whack-a-mole until the exact perfect arrangement of food is present on each child's plate. My kids watch closely for my ass to hit a chair so as to perfectly time their next demand: Oops we forgot the ketchup. Now we need water. Now time to re-heat noodles. I need salt. Where's the Parmesan cheese? Get it yourself. You're not a baby anymore. That's disgusting. Sit down. And so on.
Each child then takes approximately 45 seconds to inhale one-third of their carefully-orchestrated a-la-carte meal. The rest goes into the garbage disposal or the compost bucket (just kidding, we gave up on that too), and/or the outside of their bodies. I then permit Geoff ten minutes of peace to stare vacantly into space while he finishes eating, and I take my plate to the sink where I pick at whatever's left while simultaneously washing dishes. I doubt this sort of multi-tasking is CDC best-practices, but it hasn't failed me yet.
Then it's a race against time to get the kids in the bath before they mash their disgusting hands and bodies all over the house. Because as the CDC will tell you: any good meal starts and ends with a clean anus.