Saturday afternoon, week before last, was one of those moments when you think, man, having kids is fun. I mean, it’s almost always fun and it’s not like hanging out with the kids on a sunny weekend afternoon is ever a hardship, but this was different. I feel like last Saturday marked some kind of occasion, a corner turned in the hang-out department. We’d been following the World Cup pretty faithfully as a family for a couple weeks now, tuning in live when we could, catching up on DVR when we couldn’t, rating the uniforms, identifying the underdogs, mocking the bad hair, picking our favorite players, and all the while, I was quietly doing everything I could to maniupulate — I mean, show the kids how much fun it could be to get into an event like this, that featured so many countries and was so special, that happened only once every four years. Mission accomplished. Both girls were on the couch at 2:20 pm, in the alert, upright position, ready to watch the U.S. take on Ghana. I put on the pregame and sat down between them.
“I’m hungry,” Abby said.
“Let’s wait a little while,” I said.
“Can you make popcorn?” said Phoebe.
I couldn’t risk a mutiny at this point — the prospect of sitting and watching a game with them (and maybe catching a quick nap) was too good to pass up — so I obliged. As I got up, I told them that I would make a snack on one condition: that they promise to try whatever I made, no matter what. They agreed, warily. I decided to make peanut butter sandwiches five ways – with bananas, with raisins, with bananas and raisins, with honey, and with bacon. (When I got to the refrigerator, however, I saw we had no bacon, not even one slice — apologies to Mr. Presley — so I subbed in almond butter for a fourth variation.) The bread was just a good Italian loaf, thinly sliced, and toasted. The peanut butter was the organic stuff with the green lid from T. Joe’s; the honey was from our farmer’s market. Five minutes later, I was back on the couch with what I sold as “a special soccer snack” — a tray of mini, open-face sandwiches. The kids, who up until this moment, had been strictly peanut butter and jelly girls, were intrigued by the presentation. And they kept their promise. They tried them all. They loved them all. If only we’d had bacon.
Midway through the second half, Phoebe’s head was buried in Narnia, Abby was rooting hard for Ghana (prettier jerseys), and the U.S. was losing. But hey: we were still on the couch together, and the snack was a winner. –Andy