Romantic Dinner…For Three

by Brian on September 8, 2005

in A Parent in Israel

Coming home after vacation is always a bit tough. The time away is
filled with adventure, with new things to see and do every day. There’s
no school, no need to wake up early. And most of all (if everyone gets
along that is) you have plenty of quality time together as a family.
That was, thankfully, the case with our recent two week trip abroad.
The return home, on the other hand, starts with unpacking, continues
with checking (and responding to) hundreds of emails, listening to
voicemail on multiple land and cellular lines, and eventually jumping
back (or being dragged kicking and screaming) into work.
For the kids, it also means their parents are no longer 100% dedicated
to the pursuit of family fun as each day’s sole goal and activity.
Fortunately, they have their friends (which usually makes up for parents…and then some).
On our first day back, eleven-year-old Merav and her friend Ayelet
spent the afternoon together at the pool. The girls were having such a
good time, they decided to extend their time into a sleep over.
Seven-year-old Aviv tagged along as best he could, but by dinner time,
it was clear he was the odd man out in this celebration of girl power.
By lunch the next day, they were looking for new creative outlets for all that pre-teen energy.
The girls started by cleaning the kitchen. (This may be the first time
in recorded history anyone under the age of 45 has willingly chosen to
wash up the dishes because, as Merav told me later, it was “fun.”)
I was in my home office upstairs working; Jody was out at the gym. Aviv
was grumpily prowling around the house looking for something to do. The
idea of “cleaning up” didn’t appeal to him as an organized activity,
and he still didn’t entirely understand what had happened to all the
parental attention that had been lavished on him and his siblings for
the past two weeks.
At about 2:00 PM, Merav called up to me. “Abba, when Imma gets home, come down to the kitchen. Immediately!”
“Why?” I called back to her.
“Just do it.”
Now, one of the benefits of working from a home office is that you can
be more spontaneous in participating in the lives of your children.
When the front door opened 15 minutes later and Jody walked in, I heard
a round of giggling. I hoofed it down the two flights of stairs.
What I saw before me was nothing short of amazing.
Not only had the girls cleaned up the entire kitchen, they had set the
table for two. Dark blue crepe paper was draped over the windows and
small candles were placed strategically across the dining area. Jody
and my places were at the far ends of our long table, creating an
environment I thought slightly more royal than intimate. But never mind…
Merav and Ayelet beckoned us to sit down which we did.
With a dramatic flourish, our two giggling (and definitely underage)
waitresses filled our water glasses and brought out the first course to
a romantic meal they had planned.
A plate of sliced peaches.
“Would you like some cottage cheese with that, sir?” Ayelet asked. How could I refuse?
We ate our peaches while the girls doted on us. This was obviously their idea of how adults have a good time.
“Some wine with your meal?” Merav asked.
“Um, sure…” I said, wondering if she’d mastered the art of the corkscrew as part of her waitressing apprenticeship.
She produced a bottle of two week old Coke and poured it into one of the little glasses we use for Kiddush.
When we had finished the peaches, Merav and Ayelet cleared our place
settings and produced the main course: home make pancakes with big
chocolate chunks.
“Any maple syrup?” Jody asked.
“I’m sorry, Sir,” Ayelet responded quickly, “we’re all out.” Merav produced a plate of butter instead.
As we enjoyed our meal, the girls gave us back and neck massages. This
was some elegant restaurant, I thought. Peaches and pancakes with
It was at that point that we heard a faint whimpering coming from the TV room couch, just off our dining area.
Uh oh, I thought, immediately sensing that someone was hurt. I just
wasn’t sure if it was physical or psychological. “Where’s Aviv?” I asked
“Here,” came a pained voice.
Jody went over to the couch where Aviv was lying, his head buried in the pillows.
After several minutes of coaxing, he revealed the source of his misery. “They didn’t include me!” he sobbed.
The girls stood still, momentarily paralyzed by this dramatic turn of
events. In their imaginative play, a romantic candle lit meal did not
include a needy seven-year-old.
While Jody continued to comfort Aviv, I sat at the table alone, trying
to keep a smile plastered on so as not to defeat the good cheer of our
As the minutes stretched on, it was clear Aviv was not to be placated by Jody alone.
Then, as if a light bulb had suddenly appeared over our waitresses’
heads, the girls hurried to the kitchen, whispered animatedly, and
produced an additional plate, cutlery and glass which they placed
between Jody and me.
“Aviv,” Merav said. “Would you like some peaches and pancakes?”
Aviv and Jody stumbled to the table.
“But not together,” Aviv said, evoking the seven-year-old creed of
never mixing different food types on the same plate. The peaches went
in a bowl, pancakes on the plate.
The conversation returned to its pre-crisis level. Aviv’s face
lightened, and the meal concluded. Merav produced a hand written bill (see the picture above).
15 shekels for the pancakes, 9.50 each for the peaches, 2.50 for the
waters and 3 for the coke…er, wine, tax not included (no mention on whether a tip was expected). Fortunately,
at the bottom Merav had written “no payment required.”
The girls cleared the table and Jody resolved to spend the rest of the afternoon with Aviv.
For my part, I climbed back up the stairs and wrote this story so the
rest of you would know all about our mid-afternoon romantic candlelit
…for three.

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