The resident soup Nazi


My desperation lunch for the tiny people is soup and bread.  It’s nourishing, warm, and VERY quick, which is an essential quality of a meal that needs to be prepared when you’ve lost all track of time and have one child sobbing and two whining because they’re hungry.  While I prefer to make nice homemade soups, and actually have a respectable stock of them in the freezer, I’m also practical enough to have half a cupboard shelf stocked with the fine offerings of the Campbell’s and Progresso companies.

This Sunday, it was our parish mom’s group’s turn to handle the donut social table after 9:30 Mass.  Since we had three tired kids and one (Mr. Man) whose digestive tract was rebelling against a weekend full of rich treats, I attended alone for the first time since very early 2003.  I must confess that it was awfully nice to be able to hear the homily, and to be able to socialize with other parishioners without having to count heads.  However, I had such fun chatting with friends, even while we were cleaning up, that I rather forgot the time.  When I arrived home at about a quarter to noon, my benighted husband was at the center of a maelstrom of whining and was looking a trifle lost.  He had put Baby Guy down for a nap not long before, and hadn’t been sure if I was bringing home treats, since we often stop on the way home from church for sandwiches and such.

I had not, of course, since my primary concern was getting home before the kids gave him too much of a hard time.  After a round of hugs and kisses, I scooted into the kitchen to see what treasures the pantry might hold, a now non-vomiting Mr. Man in hot pursuit.  One of the tribe’s favorite lunches is cream of anything soup, and since the first thing I spied was cream of chicken, that seemed like a winner, especially since we had a bounty of leftover ciabatta and salad from Nonno and Deedaw’s festivities.  Mr. Man was calling his wholehearted approval, and helpfully snagged a whisk from the utensil drawer.  I grabbed the can, spun around, and plunked it down on the stove.  Mr. Man, with his characteristic determination, attempted to whisk the unopened can, informing me as he did so, “I cook soup!”  After explaining (several times) that a can opener, a pan, and a heat source would be required to complete that process, I turned around to retrieve a saucepan from the dish drainer.

When I returned, seconds later, to the stove, the soup can had vanished — as had Mr. Man.

From the living room, I heard him crowing, “Soup!  Sooooooup!  MY SOUP!”  My poor husband, who is normally at work during the lunchtime follies, attempted to reason with a 21 month old boy armed with a can of soup.  Mr. Man has terrific arm strength and preternatually accurate throwing aim.  I’m assuming the can glanced off a well-padded part of my husband’s anatomy.  As I reached into the pantry for the back can of cream of chicken soup, I remonstrated with Mr. Man, “Sweetie, we throw balls, not cans of soup.”  While plying the can opener, I heard another thud, this one more characteristic of a full soup can making contact with the rug which covers the hardwood floor in our living room (I should mention that I also heard my husband attempting to catch a 21 month old boy who has just discovered a hilarious new game).  Naturally, the entire time, Mr. Man kept up his cheerful chant of “Soup!  Soooooup!”

It’s not normally a good idea to warm up a cream soup over high heat, but I felt like an exception might be warranted under the circumstances.  I also managed to intercept Mr. Man when he ran back into the kitchen, still clutching his can of soup, and removed his booty from his arms, much to his very vocal dismay.  Luckily, that was right around the time the soup was ready, so I plunked him in his high chair, wrestled the safety straps around him, and fired a bowl of warm soup and a couple of slices of ciabatta across the table to him.  Of course, I then heard the plaintive howl of “Spoon!  SPOOOOOON!”

My throwing arm will be almost as good as his in a couple of months . . . at least, I hope it will.  The spoon did land near enough for him to grab, and I did manage not to hit either my son or his bowl of soup.  It’s the small victories . . .

Today’s prayer:  Lord, in his homily today, Your priest taught us that one of the temptations to turn from Your loving way is to follow the poor examples of others — and to provide a poor example myself.  It would have been so easy to yell at Your little blessing when he was playing with a can of soup today, and thus to teach him that reacting with anger is how he should act when someone is behaving inappropriately.  Please help me to always provide the gentle hand that removes the contraband with a gentle admonition and a suggestion for a better amusement, instead of the shrill scream and the grudge that lasts all day.  And, Lord, if I do scream, please remind me that even mommies can be wrong, and help me set an example of humility.

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