I Call First!

I have no memory of how it started and developed, but somewhere along the line the kids developed a system of “calling first” to be served supper. Second, sometimes, if they miss being first. Usually calling first is prefaced by asking me what’s for supper.

They even have honorary first. Usually this applies to the fussy eldest, when it’s one of the things she loves best. They are remarkable about deciding and observing this courtesy. Sometimes I decide this as a practical matter. If I make pasta and sauce, and one kid only eats it with butter, parm, and finely grated cheddar, the butter melts better if it’s still piping hot, so first it is.

There’s no reason not to go along with it, but it’s traumatic if I didn’t hear whoever called first first, and serve food to the second one who called first.

Sometimes when one of them says “I call first,” I will tell them it’s polite to call first, you should never just drop in. That gets old, as repetitious dad jokes do.

Sometimes I mess with them, if it’s the right thing. I’ll scoop three bowls of darned if I can remember right now and put them on the counter for the three of them to come grab. Not chili, because that requires embellishment. For that matter, less embellishment can mean you’re first because then it’s out of the way quick and the ones that take more time can be the focus. One bowl of chili is just beef chili with no beans, made for the kid who can’t stand the texture of the beans and, since I’m making it anyway, preferred by the wife. One bowl of regular chili get a pile of grated cheese on it. Another bowl of chili gets pile of grated cheese, a spoon or two of sour cream, and a side of bread and butter. One burger gets a bun, some ketchup, a burger, preferably with as much of the cheese that fries on the pan as possible, and more ketchup on top. One burger goes on a bun and the kid adds a little ketchup. Please none of the cheese that fried onto the pan! Another burger gets mayo and ketchup, the burger, sometimes sauteed onion if we’re making those, and more ketchup on top. If there’s lettuce and tomato but no fried onion, that third one might have those on it as well. That’s the case that matches mine, except I also add mustard sometimes, so I make those together. the wife assembles her own.

If anyone wants seconds of whatever we’re having, they come help themselves. Sometimes I’m surprised by what is or isn’t left when I go to put away leftovers.

Anyway, that’s one of the ways in which the household, as most presumably do, has developed its own culture, driven in part by the kids. There are always inside jokes or references we all get or use for shorthand, but that nobody else would understand.

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