Down at the toddler smorgasbord

I often hear mothers remark that they pretty much subsist by eating scraps of leftovers from the anointed ones, i.e., their tiny children, usually while clearing away small, sticky plates.

Though I’ve never been one to skip a meal, I’m finding myself in this situation, too.

Lately, as my husband comes home from work later and I push more and more very early dinners on not-that-hungry kids (at early-bird special time), I find myself feasting on halves of chicken nuggets, fragments of string cheese, shards of half-eaten pizza and toddler-fist-size servings of broccoli.

And — blech — occasionally applesauce,  with nothing interesting and fried to dip into it. (The horror.)

The problem, is, after multiple tiny courses, similar to a school cafeteria-version of  a tasting menu at an upscale French bistro, I then have absolutely no idea if I did, in fact, have a dinner.

My husband arrives home, asks if I want anything, and I’m stumped. I don’t know. I don’t feel hungry, nor do I feel sated.

A simple question really becomes a math problem as I attempt to estimate the calorie counts of the partial toddler entrees I’ve had all day, and the various levels of protein, to see if I can make it through until morning.

I seldom include my intake of  the cookies and candy I delight in eating in plain view of The Two Boys, who still have no clue that Mommy is really frequently chomping on a Reese’s cup or a Trader Joe’s Oreo clone, not a celery stalk.

Until they catch on, mama tapas is my dinner. Which, let’s face it, is just a more sophisticated version of a Dumpster dive.

But maybe I can make it sound more progressive if I call it “reusing”: The Elder did not eat the crust on his sunflower butter-and-jam sandwich, “so I reused it, instead of throwing it into compost.”

See, I’m not a crazy person eating used food. I’m just really, really green.–Jillian O’Connor