That's not to say that it hasn't been a glorious break. We've gotten to sleep late, ice skate, loll about, and other excellent pastimes, and it's been pretty wonderful. But an, um, issue came up today that inspired tears of frustration and bitterness.
It is this: reading at the table.
Now, I love to read at the table. I read during breakfast (yes, I will be one of the last people who actually gets the New York Times delivered in paper form, holding onto it the way other people hold on to home delivery of seltzer long past the time when it makes any kind of sense). I like to read a novel or The New Yorker at lunch. At dinner, which we eat all together, I am more civilized, but on those odd nights when something or other keeps one of us out late, I relish the chance to read, drink a glass of wine, and eat in total quiet. Or even, on those rare occasions when I eat out by myself, I bring a book, and order something that is easy to eat with one hand, and it's a complete luxury.
We have long had a problem of crumbs in books in this house. Crumbs, butter, chocolate thumb prints, other unpleasant food traces. These are mostly a byproduct of mornings and weekend lunches (though we do have one special night of the week, Tuesdays, when people are allowed to read during dinner). But they're gross. We've outlawed reading library books while eating, and we've tried to outlaw book-on-the-lap eating, and recently we came to Only Read Magazines and Newspapers sorts of rules.
But now siblings are wanting to bring books to the table. They argue that since they've never gotten food in a book yet, they should be exempt from the rulings. But how can you let one kid bring something really tempting, like a Clue book, to the table, and relegate the other to the September 2007 issue of Cooks Illustrated? Especially when you're sitting there reading your own library book while shoveling in the hummus. I mean, I know you're supposed to teach a kid how to handle things that involve fine motor skills and food etc and then she works to achieve and all that sort of thing, and the idea is that eventually everyone will conquer all their challenges, and we will be busly conversing with each other without resorting to reading during meals anyway, and if we do we'll be ever so dainty about it. But that all seems so far away, doesn't it? I know I should just try to do the right thing. But sometimes it is hard to know what that is.