"I don't wanna watch Pretty Little Liars!"
"I NEED to! I've seen every episode so far. It's the only show I actually watch on TV."
"But it's stupid! I don't wanna watch it!"
I knew the moment was coming. I gritted my teeth and gripped the wheel tighter. "Why can't you watch it in your room, Ashes?"
From the back of the car, I could hear Ashes punch the back seat. "Because it'll be on during supper and besides, we don't get that channel in my room. Stupid basic cable."
"Do to!" Theo said belligerently, sitting right next to me in the passenger side,
"It's on channel 26, you moron!"
I slowed the car at a traffic light, irritable after a full day of work. "Give me a minute, wouldja? I swear, you guys fight about everything. Ask anything, Theo, you'd say it was black. Ashes, you'd say it was white. And you're always, always asking me to somehow make it gray."
Theo smirked. "Where'd you hear that one?"
"I didn't. I made it up myself." Then I paused. "But I may have to write that one down, later..."
Thirty minutes later, and the TV arrangements had been made. Ashes would watch her Pretty Little Liars, which Theo was not happy about. Now came the time for the food battle. After a bit of nagging, I hesitantly said, "Now kids, we can either have chicken breasts or Hamburger Helper."
"Oh, God," groaned Ashes. "Anything but Hamburger Helper."
"But I like Hamburger Helper!" yelled out Theo from his room.
"Well I don't!" Ashes called back from the couch, with equal intensity. "It tastes like crap!"
"If it tastes like crap, then I should start eating what comes out of my bum!" Theo called back.
Score another one for Theo. At the very least, the kid can make me laugh.
We settled on English muffin pizza, and as a compromise, watched Theo's show after Pretty Little Liars was over PS: PLL was pretty and little and frankly, abysmal. So, I lied. I didn't feel like fighting with Ashes over it. Hey, if it's the only show she watches each week on TV, who am I to knock it? Besides, we had agreed to only watch it in the living room on alternate weeks, so I won't have to see it for a while.
Another Monday night crisis averted. But I'm left marveling anew at my father's rules for dinner, when I was growing up: no television at the dinner table, and you like what mom makes. Things were so much simpler back then. The only time we'd get to watch TV was when dad had a meeting. That's when mom would give us a treat.
Or maybe, she was giving herself a break. Come to think of it, not having the TV on would mean we'd actually have to talk to each other. Maybe mom had the right idea, after all. Conversations coming from the tube are so much less stressful than conversations coming from those chitlins. It's hard making shades of gray all the time.