We’re in the car, coming back from an afternoon in the forest. All three grand-kids and the dog have managed to stay with us. We gave them breadcrumbs, honest, but they ate them before we reached the spot where we’d planned to suggest they make their own way home.
‘I guess we’ll just have to feed them at tea-time, too, then,’ Ray says.
I’m not sure what with. At home the cupboard and freezer are bare of the stuff that they think delicious, or even edible. Apparently we eat ‘weird’ food.
It’s Easter Sunday. All the places we pass where we could stop and buy something are already packed. There’s not an empty table to be had.
Well, it is, officially, the hottest Easter on record, here in the UK. Seems like the whole population may have opted to eat out.
But heck, the whole point of hoping to lose the kids in the forest was to avoid having to cook for them. If we had to take them home again, then we needed to agree on buying a meal. You think that’s easy?
Set aside the closed shops, for a moment, and think about three individuals of varying ages from pre-, to mid- teenage. They’ve been over two hours suspended in phone-free enjoyment of sunshine, trees, dog and pond, then we return to the car. It’s hard to imagine how even short journeys were achieved before there were portable screens and headphones.
Our questions about what might be suitable have to be negotiated between songs, text messages and important updates. Parents, perhaps, go into this situation with several advantages. Authority, by my estimation, is not the most important, they know the full range of what is acceptable.
As temporary weekend surrogates, maintaining our status as ‘fun’ limits us. The voting system is tortuous, and in the end we abandon democracy in favour of pleasing all. I plan a route that takes in four types of take-away, and we head for town.
It takes ten minutes to discover they’re all closed. My heart sinks.
Ray names a pizza place sure to be open. ‘We’re all okay with that,’ says Sammy, without looking up from her phone. The others agree.
Well, I think, that was easy after all. By now they’re so hungry that there’s no real discussion over the toppings, either.
‘I’ll stay at the car, with granddad and Rusty,’ Sammy says. Brandon, Breanna and I go to sort out our order.
Here’s the deal. It costs less for our two pizza’s if we also buy two side-dishes, than if we just buy what we went in for.
When we get back to the car Sammy is giving Rusty some valuable re-training on walking to heal, so he’s happy, too.
I tell Ray, ‘We’re going to save a quarter of the price and take home an extra quarter of a portion.’ I show him a handful of change.
Fifteen minutes later, Brandon is struggling to manoeuvre his long legs into the car while carrying the heap of hot boxes.
Back at home the boxes fill our modest table. ‘How do we even eat all that?’ Breanna wonders.
‘One bite at a time, I guess,’ says Brandon, reaching for a slice of pepperoni.
‘Same way you would an elephant,’ I say, reminded of a quote I’d read just that morning, as I fitted in a little class preparation.
‘Eew,’ says Breanna. ‘Eat an elephant?’ .
I nod. ‘That’s what an American general, called Creighton Abrams, once advised.’
‘But who would eat an elephant?’
Brandon takes another slice of pizza. ‘She doesn’t mean you really do it,’ he says. ‘It’s a metaphor.’ He nods at me. ‘That’s cool.’
Serendipity, I think, isn’t it wonderful?