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Arsenic Hours

If you’ve raised kids, I’m sure you remember the four to six pm window, which I have labeled the “Arsenic Hours.” I’ll set the stage. Four pm meant it was time to either start cooking or start thinking about cooking or at least figure out what the heck I was going to cook. My kids were big fans of chicken fingers, fish sticks, macaroni and cheese and pizza. Okay, that took care of four nights of the week, but what about the other three? 

I could hardly believe I was the woman who once worked her way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 2.  But that was BK—before kids. So whatever menu I had devised, it was time to “face the music.” 

As I assembled ingredients and the tools to use them, at least ONE kid would announce that she was STARVING and begin to whimper piteously. Oh course, it was nothing that a cookie or other junky snack wouldn’t cure. Naptime, if there was one, was a long time ago, as the kid who’d been up since six am went into full meltdown mode. 

Keep in mind that I was working in a kitchen the size of an elevator (a European one in a very old hotel, but unfortunately, with no gate.) As I started work, our 75-pound Golden Retriever would “join the family” in the kitchen. At this point, I was trying to prepare a meal (less than sumptuous, but oh well,) and placate a whiny kid, while stepping over the beast sprawled on our kitchen floor.

Then the phone would ring. It was usually some helpful salesman who absolutely KNEW I needed new gutter guards or siding for my brick house.

At this point, THE HUSBAND would enter from stage left and be greeted like the Messiah.  “DADDEEEE,” proclaimed the child in question, as if she hadn’t seen him in a year. And the dog would join the chorus, barking joyously and chasing her tail.  Said husband would pour himself a drink and acquaint me with the details of his day as I was dishing food onto a little plate and cutting it into teeny pieces for the starving child who seemed to have forgotten her raging thirst and hunger.

As I said to my friend, “Yes, they’re the arsenic hours, alright.  But I can’t decide whether to TAKE it or GIVE it.” You don’t have to be Old School to understand this one. 


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