Some days, my kids are funny and inspiring. Then there was today. We had to make a Home Depot run before dinner, so we ate a little later than normal. This was our mistake.

The scene: pre-dinner preparation time.

The dinner: salmon, salad, bread and grapes.

The kids: hungry, whiny and verging on mean.

Georgia, who is the likeliest to become mean when hungry, says, “What’s for dinner?” We tell her. She cries. We tell her to suck it up and offer her the choice of making her own vegetable if she doesn’t want salad. She declines, stomping into the living room to torture her brother while her dad and I cook.

Oscar comes into the kitchen looking for something to eat right now. I give him a pear. Crisis averted. He spies the salmon on the counter. “I am not eating that. I promise.” Dude, I think, you are six. I am the boss, not you. We shoo him away to clear crayons, books, coloring books, glue and a nuclear reactor off of the table. Instead, he goes into the living room to jump around while making light saber noises.

While making avocado aioli to go with the fish, my blender breaks. Go back and re-read that last sentence. My. Blender. Breaks. Fuck. I send my husband to the basement to find my mother’s food processor. While he is down there, I pick pieces of plastic out of the partially mixed avocado-lime juice-herb-yogurt mess that I have scraped into a bowl. My daughter chooses this moment to return to the kitchen and complain about dinner again. I reiterate my offer to serve another vegetable if she picks it out and helps to prepare it. Again, she leaves in a huff. I call after her to clear her stack of books and whathaveyou off of the table. She ignores me, which only increases the feeling of jocularity in the house.

Two minutes before the fish is done, I notice that the table isn’t cleared or set. The grapes aren’t washed. The bread isn’t sliced. My husband says he wants to wait “until last” to cut the bread. Last? The salmon is seconds away from overcooking. I convince him that the time is right for bread slicing. Children are marshalled into action. The boy is cleaning fruit, the girl is clearing and setting the table. Nobody is crying. As if by magic, the food is on the table, the people are in their seats. Whoops, forgot to make a vinaigrette. No problem, I have some fabulous new walnut oil that I want to use, it’ll be just a minute.

We tuck into our meal. As promised, Oscar eats only the tiniest bite of fish, proclaims that it is the worst food ever and refuses to take another bite. He eats all of his salad and half of his sister’s. She eats all of her salmon and a good chunk of mine, too. Finally, everyone is happy. Except, wait. My husband’s salad is untouched. “What’s wrong?” I ask.

“I don’t like the dressing.”

As the kids say: whatevs.