When my kids were younger, we had rules. All sorts of rules. Some of those rules involved food and eating. They weren’t strange rules or even difficult ones. They certainly weren’t things that give you eating disorders as an adult. They were simple things like “We don’t eat in the living room” and “We don’t eat out of the bag.” Because I can imagine nothing worse than a small child eating an entire bag of Cheetos while watching TV, simultaneously smearing neon orange Cheeto dust all over everything and making themselves sick.

One of the other rules was “We don’t eat in our bedrooms.” Because I don’t want ants. Simple and easy to follow and for years we had no problems. But now they are teenagers and for some reason they seem to have forgotten everything they ever learned, except maybe “The stove is hot!”

All of a sudden eating in their bedrooms while doing homework or playing video games has become more than a guilty pleasure to sneak past Mom. It is now something like a necessity. And it appears to involve every single one of my dishes.

I mostly drink from coffee cups during day and wine glasses after 5, but sometimes in between I would like a glass of water and I am certain that I actually possess drinking glasses, even if I cannot locate a single one of them.

When this happens, it usually means a rescue and recovery mission is in order. Venturing into a teenager’s bedroom that looks like it’s one candy wrapper away from an episode of hoarders is not for the faint of heart, but eventually we will need to eat dinner and that will require dishes.

I try to think of it like an exciting trip to the Goodwill, where I can come across the perfect find at a bargain basement price! In this case, the price is “free” if you’re brave enough to go in after it.

Look! A fiesta ware plate in Poppy! That will complete my collection! Of course, it actually DOES complete my collection, so there’s that. Need some silverware to serve dessert to company? Go forth and gather it to your hearts content. Tupperware? Mason jars? Popcorn bowls? Hell, the only thing I haven’t come across so far is a nice cheese grater and that’s because IT’S IN THE KITCHEN WHERE IT BELONGS.

While I continually rant and rave like some sort of lunatic, it never seems to stop. Remember when you would lose a sippy cup and it would reappear days later in the toy box, half full of rancid, curdled milk? Cereal bowls do the same thing. And there are few things less appetizing than a bowl with dried up salsa stuck in every crack and crevasse. So I persevere, gathering more dishes than my hands can hold, dragging them back to the kitchen in the hopes of reuniting them with their fellow salad bowls that seem perpetually neglected. And the whole time I wonder how the hell it came it this? I try to make myself feel better by repeating “at least we don’t eat out of the bag.” Until I see the mostly empty bag of tortilla chips lying on the floor. But I know we don’t eat in the living room! Or I believed that, until I sat down on the couch and directly into a pile of crushed up Cheez-its.

People keep insisting to me I will miss them when they are gone, but my dishes and I are not so sure about that.

Melissa Morritt Coble
Author

Melissa Coble is a mom living in Phoenix, Arizona just trying to survive the teenage years with a lot of laughs, an occasional rant, and copious amounts of wine. You can find her counting the days until her nest is empty on her blog An Unfit Parent and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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