Thursday, December 9, 2010

Family meals are a myth

I have become convinced that family meals with 3 kids that are RELAXED and we are ALL at the table are a myth.  Something I can only hope to achieve.  It does not matter how early I start, and what is on the table (or not) there is the constant up and down ~ mostly by mama.  Please tell me you know what I'm talking about. 
Enter the dining room with me.
The table is set.  Every piece of silverware that anyone could possibly need is there with their plate or bowl.  Sippy Cups or glasses are on the table and they contain the beverage choice of each individual.  Milk, or water?  Napkins are in each spot waiting for sticky messy cheeks and fingers.  Dinner is on hot plates.  These  parents know that the little people do not like their food as hot as mama does so they dish theirs out first.  THEN they are called to  the table while  cutting items into bite size pieces.  Strike!  That child didn't want their noodles cut.  The parent apologizes but says that they still need to eat the item.  After all it does taste the same.  Everyone sits in their seats and the shoveling of food begins.  Another child requests some ketchup for dipping.  Not a problem.  BBQ sauce just doesn't suit their tastes.  The ketchup is retrieved.  The child insists on squeezing out some.  While that is happening under the direct supervision of one of the parents another child declares mustard is needed as they are on their way to the fridge!  ESCAPE!  A child has escaped from the table.  One parent must quickly retrieve that child from the vortex of the refrigerator!  There is too much going on in there and they could be sucked in permanently!  This child does not like to be retrieved and is protesting!  Oh there is a stray squirt of ketchup!  More napkins please!  WE NEED MORE NAPKINS!  WHERE ARE ALL THE NAPKINS????
Being that these parents have run this race before they can grab the child from the vortex and search for more napkins!  THE CROWD CHEERS! 
Everyone is safely returned to their seats to find the first child who protested cut noodles is done eating.  They would like seconds.  Second are dished out.  The parent who likes their food hot is beginning to realize that they indeed may be eating another 'warmish' meal tonight.  Children are eating.  Dinner is dished out to both parents.  The parents sit.  "I need more water"  "Can I have more mustard?"  "My peas won't stay still"  "I need a different spoon"  "I NEED MORE NAPKINS"  The parent who prefers piping hot food and is probably getting a cold meal gets up from the table to retrieve more napkins, water and a different spoon.  The other parent squirts more mustard (much to his dismay) and re-corrals the peas.  There is an instant meltdown because the mustard has just touched the peas.  Huge-flood-like tears are marching down the cheeks of a child.  The child is no longer hungry and needs to get down.  The first child is full and the last one at the table is done because, well, everyone else is.
The parents settle down into their seats with slightly warm food and begin to eat.  A sigh is heard from the far end of the table.  Yes  A relaxed family meal will happen...someday.  For now this family is just enjoying the chaos that happens with little children at meals.


Karen Twombly said...

When you think they are old enough, we used to play games at the table like "I Spy". They were talking type games that held the kids' attention, got us through the meal, and was a gateway for the habit that dinner was a time to talk and share. :)
We made up our own like "Cartoon Books" where we made up titles based on characteristics of cartoon characters or "Who am I?" guessing games. Mostly, yeah, try to enjoy the chaos and remember a day is coming when you will indeed get a hot meal!! :)
Love ya!

~ Laurie said...

Thankfully date nights do happen. I also find it interesting the kids choose having a meal with daddy over playing with him if he's going to be a little late getting home. They just love being at the table with him. Although I'm not sure how much he's at the table! However, it speaks love to them!