The virtues of eating meals with your children are long heralded. The benefits, we are told, are untold. Everything from lofty educational attainment to the absence of delinquency are certain gains.
What they don't mention is that eating with those significantly younger than you, can be quite unpalatable.
Recently, the senior recipe tester and I sat up to lunch with the youngest junior recipe tester, who was the only one present at the time. A perfect time to encourage accomplishment and obedience, I reasoned. My bread roll was sitting deliciously on my plate, waiting for consumption. The junior, sitting beside me, took a large gulp of his drink.
Some went down the wrong way. To his credit, and given that he had his mouthful of water at the time, the junior did mostly keep his mouth closed when he coughed. It didn't help much. It created a high pressure hose.
Fortunately, he didn't spray his lunch. He sprayed mine.
Resigned that he was destined to become a delinquent because I no longer want to eat with him, I thought perhaps some other food-related activity might have similar positive effect. This particular junior is very interested in food (good lad) and particularly likes cooking (that's my boy!) We settled on a cooking project.
One of his favourite jobs is switching the mixmaster on and off. This, I have discovered, can be treacherous. It's treachery is inversely proportional to the length of your arms. The shorter the arms, the greater the danger.
After loading ingredients into the bowl the junior reached around to switch the mixmaster on. A veritable tsunami of wet ingredients washed out of the bowl. The first wave landed entirely in his armpit. The second splashed onto his face and another lot went in his ear.
I observed the junior, still standing on his cooking stool (which compensates for his short legs and stature, but not his short arms), with disdain. He began to flap his hands wildly and pull funny faces. My disdain turned to disbelief.
"I do not like this stuff up my nose."
I reached for the tissue box. I wonder how far we will have to drive to the juvenile detention centre.