It was one of those nights with the girls. Kim was out somewhere and I was getting them dinner.
“What do you want?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” said Maggie. Really she said something more like “mmmmph” but I’d learned that that meant she didn’t know.
“Whatever you want us to have daddy,” said Elena. She was at the top of her sucking-up form. Anything to make Maggie look bad. “How about noodles?”
I said ok. I looked at Maggie, “do you want noodles too?”
“I guess,” she said.
“How ’bout Mac and cheese?” suggested Elena.
“I don’t feel like it,” Maggie said.
“What do you want?” I asked again.
“I don’t know,” Maggie said again.
I hated this game. “I’m going to make some spaghetti. How’s that?”
“OK,” Maggie said. So I put on the pot to boil.
For the next twenty minutes the girls alternated calling me to tell on each other.
“Dad,” Elena would say running in to the kitchen, “Maggie won’t let me use the computer.”
A minute later as that had been resolved Maggie would shout from the other room, “Dad, Elena is using the computer without washing her hands.”
I dumped the pasta into the pot and threw some frozen meatballs in a dish which I put in the microwave. Mmmmmm, fine dining. I called the girls to the table.
They washed their hands.
“Dad,” Maggie said, “Elena didn’t use the towel to dry her hands. She wiped them on her shirt.”
“Enough,” I said. “I’m tired of you guys running in here and saying ‘Dad this’ and ‘Dad that’.”
“Well,” said Elena putting her hands on her hips, “what are we supposed to call you? ” She looked sideways at me with a mischievous look. “Daniel?”
“No,” I said as I went to get the meatballs out of the microwave. I put them on the table and announce, “for tonight you can call me ‘King Meaty’.”
“King Meaty?” Maggie rolled her eyes. “Oh brother.”
“Well,” I said, “you can also call me ‘your highness’ or ‘your royal majesty’.”
I turned the stove off and drained the pasta. I put it on the table along with some carrot sticks and slices of cucumber.
“What do you want to drink?” I asked.
“Well, King Meaty,” said Elena, “I would like some milk King Meaty. Is that o.k. King Meaty?”
“Sure,” I smiled. “What about you?”
“Well, King Meaty,” said Maggie, “I would like some milk too please.”
It had worked. The girls were playing along. They weren’t fighting any more. After we finished dinner I asked if they would like some dessert.
“King Meaty,” said Elena, “I cannot hear you when you speak to me like that King Meaty.”
“What do you mean Elena?” I asked.
“Who is this Elena you speak of?” she said. “You may address me as Queen Frostine.”
“OK, Queen Frostine, what would you like for dessert?” I asked.
“That’s no fair,” Maggie shouted.
I was totally confused. What had I missed? What was so unfair?
“She can’t be a queen,” Maggie yelled, “I want to be the queen.”
“So you be a queen too,” I said.
“That’s just stupid,” Maggie said. “There’s only one queen.”
“You be the princess,” Elena suggested – and not kindly.
“I don’t want to be the princess, I want to be the queen,” Maggie sulked.
Uh oh. Good game gone bad.
“Ok, ok, ok, ok,” Elena said, always the peacemaker, “you be the queen, I’ll be Princess Frostine. Are you happy.”
Maggie continued to sulk. She could now be queen but she could see that it wasn’t a victory.
“Clear the table, girls,” I said.
They took their plates into the kitchen. I gathered up the serving dishes and said, “everyone take two more carrots.” They came back and munched on two more carrots while I put the dishes in the dishwasher.
“King Meaty,” said Maggie.
Phewww, I thought, storm over. “What?” I asked.
“Can we play a game?” she asked.
“Sure queen,” I said.
Maggie smiled. Elena raised her hand like she was at school and unable to control herself.
“Princess Frostine?” I prompted.
“How about Harry Potter Uno,” Elena suggested.
I looked to see if Maggie would agree but she was already on her way to get the deck of cards.
It’s good to be King.