Experts tout the benefits of family meals. When Mom, Dad and the kids sit down at the table and pass the peas and engage each other in pleasant conversation, good things happen. Studies indicate that everyone eats healthier, and the children perform well in school and demonstrate excellent social skills. When my crew crowds in the kitchen yelling, “What’s for dinner?” and dropping their shoes in the floor and rummaging the pantry for something to eat as I’m placing food on the table, when they’re arguing with each other and simultaneously trying to tell me what so-and-so said at school today, I remind myself that this is good for us.
My youngest son shouting over the mayhem that he has a plan for when the zombies come distracts me from remembering why I do this every evening. Instead of pinpointing the power of taco night to increase grade point averages, I say, “Zombies aren’t coming. You know they’re not real, right?”
“But if it did happen,” he insists. Then he defends, “How do you know it won’t? Maybe that’s how the world’s going to end.”
We put the discussion on hold and ask the blessing. After amen, my husband looks up and says, “The world won’t end by zombies.”
I know this table talk is hypothetical, but I worry anyway. Our middle son says, “If zombies do come, most people won’t die by zombie attacks. They’ll die in their own homes from thirst and starvation.”
My husband adds, “Yeah, when the grid goes down, most people won’t know what to do. Food will spoil. We won’t be able to get gas out of the pumps. Everybody will be stuck.”
I stare at the man. I think I should say something to restore reality, but then my youngest son begins unfolding his plan. He’s given extensive thought to how other people will respond to the zombie attack, what will happen to them and what our family will do differently.
He predicts that, just like when snow threatens, people will descend on Wal-Mart to gather survival supplies like milk, meat, bottled water and toilet paper. That first wave of knee-jerkers will fall to the walking dead, also inexplicably driven to go to Wal-Mart.
“When the ruckus is over,” says my child, “we’ll go to Wal-Mart and get canned food and machetes.”
“Machetes!” exclaims his father. “Forget that! We need bullets and guns. You have to get too close with a machete.”
So our oldest explains, “You can’t shoot a zombie. Blood splatters and infects other people. And the noise attracts more of them. To kill a zombie, you have to cut off its head.”
“We’re eating,” I say.
The middle son ponders, “Why do people run to big cities when there’s a zombie apocalypse? That makes no sense.”
The oldest says, “We can’t stay here. This place won’t keep zombies out.”
That’s why, according to our youngest son, we’re going to leave Wal-Mart with our machetes and go to the hunting land on the edge of the lake. We’ll have water and plenty of firewood and we can kill animals for food.
I provide positive feedback, saying, “Good idea! We’ll be isolated there and if zombies find us, we can get in the deer stands.”
I can’t see how entertaining these ideas over tacos will improve my children’s grades or help them make friends. It’s good to know we have a plan, though, because when I say that it’s time to clean the kitchen, my kids look hopefully toward the windows. They prefer a zombie apocalypse.