Last Sunday we went to a church picnic after regular services. It was a big crowded event, and one of the first things said was "Please! Do not let your children run around." which to me sounded like only so much wishful thinking. This is Loudoun county, and it seems like everyone has three, four, five, or more kids. Thirty years from now they are going to find out that some secret government experiment was allowing fertility drugs to be leeched into the water supply.
But anyway, there we are in line for lunch. Of course PJ and Anna ran off somewhere, so I am standing in line just hoping I can get a plate of food and choke it down before somebody breaks something. I also get a plate of food for PJ. I get him a hot dog on a bun with ketchup, one of his favorite foods. I also get him some beans and macaroni, just to balance out the plate, since I know he won't eat it. PJ is sort fo a food purist. He will only eat white rice, noodles with no sauce, pizza with only cheese.
I finally get to the end of the line and then make my way back to my table. We all sit down. I get up, and go track down PJ and Anna, who are running around along with virtually every other child in the room, in complete disregard for the earlier plea for peace. But its okay, its sort of a controlled chaos, and everyone is having fun, or at least they are until I tell my two that they have to sit down and eat dinner.
We get back to our table, and PJ takes a look at his plate. He pulls his feet up into his lap, and starts kicking the table, ignoring the food. This goes on for many minutes. Finally I ask, "PJ, aren't you going to eat your hot dog?"
"I don't want THIS one!" PJ says, kicking the table. Some lemonade splashes off my glass and falls on my glass. I look over at a giant bin of hundreds of identical hot dogs. "Well Okay PJ, but you need to go and stand in line to get another one. PJ gets up, and walks over to the big bin full of hot dogs, and cuts into the middle of it. I run over and grab him and bring him back to the table.
"PJ, what about this hot dog?" I ask.
"No, I don't want that one." He starts to make these loud wining noises, and he gets up and runs off into the crowd again.
I catch up to him. I tell him we will stand in line together. By now, the line reaches into some other room, maybe into another church even. We walk to the end of the line. We wait and wait. Finally we get to the front of the line. By this time Kathleen and Anna and Sam have left to go outside to the playground. PJ takes his hot dog and goes back to his table.
I am eating a cookie. I stare at him. He has this empty look in his face. He pulls his knees up and starts kicking the table again.
"PJ!" I say, the veins standing out on my forhead, "aren't you going to eat your hot dog?"
"No" He said and paused, his big eyes swivel around the room. "I'm not hungry." He said, and kicked the table again.