Most people consider the kitchen to be the heartbeat of the home; the hub, the core, the grand central station. Ours is no different, except that I work in the middle of that grand central station.
This is useful for the people who live here, when those people can’t find their good jeans, their wallet or the car keys. It is useful for Maggie who thinks a keyboard is a cat bed. It is useful for those who are running late, are really hungry or need another word for “euphemism”.
It is not good for someone who works from their kitchen. I attempted to set up shop in another part of the house years ago, even going so far as to buying a lovely desk and cabinets. Ari, 18, loves it. It holds his computer perfectly. Somehow, a decade spent madly writing away in a cubbyhole in the kitchen works for me.
Because we are truly a modern family, I will often send the kids a text telling them dinner is ready if yelling hasn’t produced results. Christopher, 21, is on my Skype list, which means I can send him a message on his computer. It’s called Instant Messaging, but I call it instant ignoring. The other day, I told him to get his brother for dinner.
“Ari’s not answering me,” I told him.
“I’ll just hook you two up as Skype contacts, and you can tell him yourself,” he replied.
“I hate that stuff, I’d rather yell,” at which point, I yelled again. A few seconds later, Ari came down the stairs. I started telling him to get plates, when he passed me and went to his brother.
“What are you doing, putting her on my Skype list? Are you nuts?” I took offense to this. Though I’ve been known to send the occasional link to cute cat pictures, or really interesting news articles, I’ve never abused this privilege. Never.
“She’ll start sending me pictures of Maggie!” he went on. Maggie and I glanced at each other, wondering what the downside of this was.
“Don’t worry, she’ll only do it on her big computer. She hasn’t figured that out on her iPad,” replied Christopher, as if I wasn’t in the room.
Horribly insulted, I announced my leave-taking and told them to do the dishes. If my computer is on, I’m working, thinking about work, or avoiding work. When dinner is over, I shut it all down and leave the room.
This frees up the best chair in the house. My office chair. Christopher is usually at the dining room table in the evenings. He sits on a normal wooden chair, until the magic moment I sigh loudly and announce I’m heading upstairs. He asks if I had a productive day, if he can pour me some wine, or if he can tidy up after dinner. I’m lying; he doesn’t do any of those things. He grabs my chair.
He calls shutting down my computer the closing ceremonies. He tells Maggie to get Mommy to go to bed; yes, in my head my cats call me Mommy, though in their heads they probably call me Food Woman. I’m aware. I sit in my kitchen all day and go to bed at 7pm – you expected something different?
As Christopher made a beeline for my chair, I hesitated.
“Wait. This is stupid. I can’t become that woman who drinks tea all day and talks to her cats and goes to bed early. That’s pathetic. I mean, think about it, Christopher, where will that leave us?”
“It’ll leave me in your chair,” he replied.