Now she asks for the cheese squares from not in the fridge, which is to differentiate from cheese squares, which would simply mean a block of cheddar sliced into child-sized edibles. And every time the cardboard flap is released on the top of the box she hastens to say, even before I can move, no, Mama! You get one and I get one and we bump on them and we say 'Cheers!' and then we eat them! And then you get another one and I get another one and we do bumps again! And that is how a little snack intended to tide her over just until dinner time can instead take until dinner time. And then she asks for cheese squares from not in the fridge and cheese strips for dinner, which translates to Cheez-its and shredded cheese. That's her idea of dinner, and her colon is okay with that because she eats eight ounces of black beans for lunch every day. We never toast the cheese strips, but we toast each and every cracker.
I had to be downtown today with a number of my colleagues for a training class and because we finished the morning session ahead of schedule we found ourselves in possession of an almost two-hour lunch window. Eight of us took advantage of this good fortune and ravaged nearly the entire lunch menu at the incomparable Oyamel, and when our drinks came we toasted to colleagues fun enough for sharing long splurgy downtown lunches. I am probably median age in this group, but I am the only one of this eight who is married, the only one who has children. I thought about the toasts I've been making of late, and how they have not included pineapple and sage, how they have not come in beverage cups made of actual glass. I thought, also, that a long, loud, indulgent restaurant meal might be so much more fulfilling for me than for any of the other seven, because of the rarity of personal opportunity (due to the children, the demands at home, the financial priorities, the cost of babysitters). It was a wonderful meal. At the end it was decided the occasion should be repeated and the group began planning a happy hour for tomorrow. I declined, though. I explained that the first Friday of the month is a standing date with my three-year-old. First Friday is the monthly evening children's service at our synagogue. This date is big time. E knows we go to Noodles&Co. for an early dinner, and then to our synagogue. I could never stand up my girl for a happy hour, I said. The other seven will have fun tomorrow night, and I would enjoy joining them. But I have obligations they don't, and I can't let down my girl. They'll have to toast each other without me.
At the end of our day downtown I took the shuttle back to the suburban building where I spend most of my time so I could collect my girls. We got home and as I was stripping L of her jacket and shoes E yelled for me from the family room. Lo and behold, there was a box of the cheese squares from not in the fridge sitting right on the couch and she beckoned a little frantically. Come, mama! I need you to take one so we can do our 'Cheers!'