It is strange to be sent to time-out by your own child, and for that time-out to restrict you to the couch—banning you from the kitchen, the bathroom, and your own bed. This happens from time to time, usually in response to my asking Kina to do something like pick up her toys or answer an annoying question more than twice. The kid knows her own way around time-out (as long-time readers might imagine) and has spent more than her share of furious two-minute stints behind a closed baby gate in her bedroom, confined there because she has thrown something at my head or kicked my head or slapped my head more than twice. (We do not, for the record, put her in time-out because she is annoying; that is her unique interpretation of time-out rules.) In this house, time-out confinement is a shared agreement regarding the rule of law, since she could almost certainly just tumble over the gate or shove her way through it—and yet does not. Accordingly, in the spirit of time-out fairness once the tables are turned, I also agree not to simply slide her chair out of the gap between the table and the wall. The rules are the rules, and they separate us from our monstrous inner nature.
I think we’re all just a bit touchy here in the newsroom, faced with the uncertainty of the world and contemplating the onset of winter and a renewed sense of isolation. That cabin fever is already setting in with the kid is worrisome, but we’re finding ways to make space for each other (and Captain Barnacles). In a way, I enjoy being in time-out for the freedom it gives me; does the chair keep the prisoner in or his jailer out? I’m wondering how this next lockdown (such as it is) will feel, as Kina is substantially better at entertaining herself, even as we have become substantially less uptight about television. That we can deal with being “done by” each other by just sliding a chair between us feels a lot healthier than the alternative, and it makes for a comfy place in the meantime to sit and think about what we’ve done.
This was a tour de force from the conversation sponge that is our child, merging Laurea’s rhapsodic memories of her first trip to London (during which she almost literally stumbled into Ottolenghi and feasted on room-temperature vegetables) with a gentle scolding that we have never really had to offer our patient and obedient mask-wearer. It’s a mere accident that this PSA regarding indoor dining comes together in this way, but we here at The Daily Kina want you to know what you’re missing out on in London, even as we encourage you to stay safe. We will get through this together. We will eat rhubarb again.