Friday night, no lights

“Come sit down here,” said my eight-year-old, Buddy. “It’ll be good if we’re a whole family.”
He asked me to join the rest of my family on the living room floor, on which everyone sat picnic-style, around the pizza box that we had just pulled out of the fridge.
It was not the dinner plan I’d had in mind when the evening started.
Earlier, instead of letting Buddy slouch in front of the TV, I’d thought to have him help me cook (just tacos, which the kids really like). We could not only turn off the box, but he could learn how to make something. Plus, I thought that whatever he helped me make he might actually eat.
Buddy readily agreed, and ran to the sink to wash his hands.
It turned out to be one of my better ideas. He browned the beef as I chopped. He added the vegetables to the pan (I add diced tomatoes and onions to the mix to make sure veggies are involved), then put in the seasoning. He watched everything with rapt attention, and even asked questions.
Finally, everything was ready to finish cooking together. Buddy ran off to play, without asking to watch TV. In a few minutes, we could all sit down, and I would tell him how proud I was of him for helping.
Then the power went out.
Two hours, said the power company’s computer voice. Well, there went that. Great timing.
Buddy jumped up. He herded us to our living room, the brightest one, then ran back and forth to the kitchen to grab snacks: cold pizza, cold chicken, brownie bars, a frozen drink one of us was afraid would melt, tortilla chips, pretzels. Then he got Pinball some milk. He apparently thought we’d be in the dark for awhile.
coldpizzaOur impromptu picnic turned out to be fun. Everyone took it in stride–except for Pinball, who flitted around like a caged hummingbird. “Aaahhh, aaahh,” he said, as he patiently encouraged each of us to open up so he could stuff in a pretzel. I thought it was funny, until he toddled over to me with one in his little fist.
Incidentally, pizza and pretzel together are less than good. He shoved the pretzel in so far, though, I hardly tasted it.
Then he sat on the pizza box, more or less concluding the meal.
As we got up to look for some candles, I thanked Buddy, for stepping up to make sure we all ate.
“No problemo,” he said calmly, “this was a really good dinner.”
That got him ice cream, right after the freezer came back on.

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