In the race to outer space at the dinner table – the one who eats the fastest gets to the stars first, a game invented by the kids – a question came up after my four-year-old son decided he wasn’t going to fuel his rocket with the evening’s lentil stew. What happens if you don’t eat?
I posed the question.
My six-year-old daughter looked at me as if I had two heads.
“You won’t grow, silly,” she said.
Then she said, “I know what will happen. You will shrink and you’ll turn into an ant. That’s what will happen.
“And then you’ll have to be very careful so that nobody eats you by mistake, and you’ll have to watch out for Maple (our four-ton dog) or else she will lick you up and swallow you. And Rain (our new kitten), oh boy, she will play with you like a toy and then you’ll get hurt. She may even eat you up, too.
“I know what you have to do. You have to build a cage to keep safe on the floor and on the table. Everywhere.”
The two kids sat in silence for a few seconds and then my daughter started digging into her dinner again.
The four-year-old looked down at his plate of stew, picked up his fork and plunged in, now eating with relish. The pace picked up and they were off again on another race to outer space.
It seems safer up there.