Depending on the season some questions have different meanings.
The wintertime answer to “What’s the low temperature?” is painful, but in summer it’s refreshing.
Wintertime “Can I come inside when the sun goes down?” has kids slamming the door before everyone is home from work, but in summertime the pillow is starting to call our names.
And then there is the sentence that changes meaning the most for me: “What’s for supper?”
When this sentence is hurled my way in the winter I’ll (usually) happily catch it and return a meal.
Oh sure, there are days when I grumble and bemoan the fact that I am the designated nutrition supplier, but for the most part I don’t hate cooking from October through May.
Want something specific? Write me a note, you’ve got it. Want to know what’s for dinner in three days? Look at the menu I have posted on the fridge.
Admittedly, some nights are thrown together quasi-meals and some weeks the menu looks an awful lot like the menu of the week before — but I cook and if I may be a little braggy, I do it pretty well.
But then … summer.
Summer and cooking really don’t work for me. If I was only responsible for the nutrition of myself, I would alternate chips and salsa, antipasti plates, bowls of berries, an occasional BLT when the tomato plants start producing, and maybe some Pad Thai thrown in because I am on a Pad Thai bender of late. Repeat.
If my wintertime menus were sometimes uninspired and extraordinarily familiar, summer meal plans are questionable at best.
“What’s for dinner?” the boy kid, younger version, asked one night last week. His sister was at work, his brother was at a ball game, his father was out of town on a work trip and neither kid nor I wanted to cook.
“I don’t know, what did you have for lunch?” I asked him.
“Did we have lunch?” he answered.
Good question, did we? Long pause. Stare. More silence while neither could remember a meal five hours beforehand.
“You had peanut butter and an apple?” I wasn’t telling, I was asking.
“I had a big snack a couple hours ago,” he may have lied, “two yogurts and a protein bar.”
That didn’t check enough boxes off the food isosceles triangle, it sounded more like an obtuse or maybe a scalene triangle. In the collected images of triangles floating in my head one morphed into a cone.
“Ice cream?” I asked him in a way that said, “This is really not a statement as much as it is a questionable statement.”
“No,” he started, not understanding my meaning, “I said yog…wait.” He got it. “For dinner?”
“Ummm, yes?” If tentative was tentative, that was my tone. This is where the Dietary Fairy should have ridden in on her carrot stick and whacked me across the head.
But it was summer, my personal dietary fairy was probably lying on a beach drinking a watermelon margarita.
My son’s mama didn’t raise no fool — he dove for the freezer.
That wasn’t our first ice cream (or pancake or scrambled egg or Fend for Yourself) supper and it wouldn’t be our last. Did this reoccurring fact make me a food-providing failure? I brushed away the guilt buzzing in my head when my son balanced it out for me.
“It’s kind of a win lose when we have ice cream for supper,” he said. “It means you don’t want to cook or are in a bad mood…but I’m eating ice cream.”
No question, I’ll take compassion over nutrition any day.