Among the ideas that sound good at the time...

It sounded so good at the time. Teach the children responsibility and skills by giving them the opportunity to plan and make dinner.

Here is Mary's menu for tonight: garlic bread, apple yogurt salad, baked potatoes, dinner rolls, and, for dessert, ice cream and strawberries. Not bad for a ten year old. A little heavy on the starches, but Mary's ten, and we are trying to be encouraging over here.

Did I mention that the dinner rolls must be made from scratch, that we are probably using about one hundred dishes, spoons, forks, and knives, and that I'm about to pass out from exhaustion? That's the little glitch I didn't anticipate: that I would be so intricately involved in the making of the dinner. I'm the sous chef, actually: the cutter of apples, the cutting of garlic bread, the cutter of lemons and strawberries. I am also the oven master. Naturally, I'm these things: Mary's ten for godsake. We want dinner not a trip to the emergency room.

Oh, and did I mention that I am paying for the privilege to spend more time in the kitchen than I usually spend in three? Yes, you see -- stupid, stupid, stupid me -- I am paying the children five dollars to plan and make dinner. What was I thinking? What? What?

Tired, so tired. And just hoping to sneak a salad after everyone's gone to sleep.