Having a routine is important in life, especially when it involves the care and feeding of dogs, goldfish, wild birds or grandchildren.
I feed the dogs every day. It’s easy to remember because they’re constantly reminding me every time I walk into the kitchen, open the refrigerator or sit down at the table.
The fish are no better. They roil the surface of the pond like piranha each morning when I remove the screening that protects them, in turn, from being eaten by the nightly predators that frequent our backyard.
I could probably even hand-feed them at this point, though, I’ve become a little tooth shy from using that technique with the dogs over the years. And I wouldn’t want to pick up some exotic aquatic zymotic, like fluke rot or ichthyophthirius multifiliis.
The birds ... well, they eat whenever I get around to filling the feeders. Which probably isn’t often enough given the unopened bags of birdseed and suet that lie rotting in our shed.
The twins are another matter. These days, I watch them on Mondays and Wednesdays, the same kind of deal a recalcitrant father might get in a bad divorce ruling. (Well, not really. Weekend babysitting would get real old real fast.)
In the olden days of 2017 and 2018, they’d get dropped off early, and I’d prepare their breakfast. Nowadays, their dad works a later shift and feeds them at home, so I’m off the hook. Except when he’s running late, like last week.
Fortunately, we still had some cereal in the house. And milk, except it was 10 days beyond the “Best By” date. Which is why the kids got Cocoa Krispies in French vanilla coffee creamer that morning.
Lunch also can be a challenge. It usually works like this:
“What do you guys want for lunch?”
“No, we ain’t going to Mickey-Ds. Now what do you want?”
“Mac and cheese!”
“We don’t have any mac and cheese. Plus, the milk’s spoiled. And I’m out of coffee creamer. So now what do you want?”
“Peanut butter and jelly.”
Like I had to ask.
PB&J is easy to make. You got your peanut butter. You got your jelly (preferably grape). And you got your bread.
Except, sometimes, you don’t have no bread. And then you fall back on lunch meat. Or cheese. Or pickles. Or crackers. Or anything else you can dig up short of dog food, fish pellets or birdseed. Because while you might have plenty of animal feed, human food appears to be in short supply these days because someone forgot to go to the store last night.
At that point, there’s only one solution: “Get in the car, girls. We’re going to Mickey-Ds.”
Lunch at Mickey-Ds is always the same: chicken nuggets, french fries, apple slices, honey mustard sauce, chocolate milk and a crummy toy.
For some reason, they always want to eat the apple slices first, and then only after dunking them in honey mustard sauce. And they always leave the crummy toys at my house.
I’m not sure if PB&J is the healthiest combo for growing children. But I am pretty sure chicken nuggets and french fries are not.
As a parent, I always tried to avoid passing on my many bad habits to my children. Sometimes, I succeeded; more often than not, I failed. As a grandparent, I’ve tried to learn from my mistakes and up my game for the sake of the grandchildren.
Still, sometimes, mistakes are made, and errors happen. And this week, I did a bad thing.
“We’re not going to Mickey-Ds,” I announced as we left our victualless abode and piled into the car. “We’re going to the Chinese buffet. And you can have whatever you want, and as much as you want.”
“Will we get a toy?” they asked.
“No, but you can bring home a fortune cookie if you want.”
At the Chinese buffet, a whole new world of culinary options was laid out before them on a pair of gleaming steam tables: egg fu young, General Tso chicken, fried rice, egg drop soup, chow mein noodles, Mongolian beef and dozens of other rare and exotic dishes.
“I want that,” said Zoey, pointing to the huge tray of chicken nuggets.
“And I want that,” said Abby, pointing to the huge tray of french fries.
In the end, I was able to induce them to also scarf down a plate of fresh fruit, a bowl of orange jello and a bowl of chocolate pudding. Along with a couple of fortune cookies.
At least there was no crummy toy.
• Bill Wimbiscus is a former reporter and editor for The