I don’t give a flip anymore that “gathering around the table as a family” is supposed to go a long way in raising decent human beings. I seriously don’t care.
I’m sure there’s some truth to that, and maybe we will re-visit that idea in 5 or 6 years, but for now, I just can’t buy into the idea that the 20 minutes or so of utter misery, also referred to as “dinner time”, is somehow ensuring that my children are absolutely going to become all they were meant to be and then some.
My husband offices part-time out of our house. The other night, he had to work late. I, being the Gift that I am, texted him and said, “want me to just bring your dinner to you in the office?”, and he wrote back and said, “No. I want to come eat with you guys.” And I thought….
Why would anyone want to DO that? I didn’t even want to eat with us. I don’t have an office to go to, but I’ll happily take my dinner in a closet or something.
But my husband manned up, came inside, and now I’d like to share with you the transcript of how that all played out:
Him: “Hey Babe (kiss). I still have more stuff to do, but I wanted to take a little break and spend some time with you and the boys”
Me: (raise my eyebrows and say nothing, all the while thinking “nothing about the next 20 minutes is going to have anything to do with “break” or “spend time with”, but oooookkkkk).
Him: “Hey guys!! I missed ya’ll today!” (statement said with genuine feeling, and excitement to see his boys)
Them: “Dad. Dad. Dad. Dad. Dad. Hey Dad. Hey Dad. Hey Dad. Stop talking, it’s my turn to tell dad something. It’s MY turn. No it’s MY turn. Ignore him, dad listen to me. Daddaddaddadaddaddaddad.” Random metal spoon banging against table. “Dad (bang) Dad (bang) Dad (bang).”
Him: Still smiling. Look of regret slowly beginning to creep across his face, but not giving up on Happy Family Dinner Yet
Him: “So G, how was school today?”
G: “Oh, I know one interesting thing. I learned if you hold your middle finger up at someone , it means ‘stupid'”. (He demonstrates for all of us)
Him: “Hey bud, you’re not in trouble, because I know you don’t know better, but let’s not ever do that again, ok?”
G: (normally not sensitive, or emotional, but it’s Family Dinner Time after all, so all bets are off) Eyes well up with tears. Lip trembles. Loud crying commences. “Why am I in trouble???? I’m just being honest and telling you what I learned today!”
Him: (Gives me a confused look, wondering, I’m guessing, why our 7 year old boy just turned into a 15 year old menstruating girl)
Me: (raise my eyebrows again)
Middle Child: Holds up middle finger
Him: “DD…that’s not ok. Please put your finger down”
Middle Child: starts crying
Baby: Bang bang bang goes the metal spoon
Me: take spoon away
All Three Boys: crying
Him: What is HAPPENING??
Me: Raise my eyebrows
Family dinner, you guys.