When I was somewhere in the zip code of my early twenties, I attended a wedding where the homily was centered around the importance of the family dinner table. The priest explained to the innocent couple and ttheir guests, that the heart of the family unfolds at the foot of the dinner table. Not only are meals served at the table, but bonds formed, lessons learned and hearts grown.
All around the family dinner table.
I remember picturing this family dinner table; solid oak with six tall chairs and hot steaming potatoes (OK, most anyone’s early twenties are foggy – I am imagining that is what I would have envisioned) sitting in the middle of happy hands passing the beans. And I am sure I thought to myself at this young, tender age, “Duh Priest-man…first comes love, then comes marriage, baby carriage…and then dinner table.”
And then I got married. And then I turned 30. And then I had triplets.
Most “dinner table” incidents happen something like this:
Me, coffee in hand. Food, lovingly (frozen waffles) prepared. Them, sitting in boosters, looking me straight in the eye. The rest is like a Western movie – we sit, eye to eye. Finally, they bring their smallish, dimpled hand up as to grab a shotgun. Will they put the waffle/egg/piece of cheese/pork loin in their mouth? I wait in suspense…ehhhh. Foiled again. The waffle/egg/piece of cheese/pork loin is on the wall.
And it finally hit me. They don’t even know what a proper dinner table is. All they know is a trough-table sort of object where they experience great displays of inconsistency by the tall, frustrated adults on the other side. The “I’m taking your plate and you are not getting it back” followed by “ONE LAST time missy” (because mommy fears you may starve in your sleep because, really, have you eaten more than one strawberry in the last 24 hours?) And then, of course, even my “good eaters” (rotating between Q & G) catch on and find they will get a trough-table, inconsistent dose of attention if they, too, throw the said pork loin on the wall.
And so, I have decided, and am declaring it here, the Hackman Five will hold family dinners. OK, that should read dinner, as in one dinner a week. Start small, build big. All five of us, ’round the table, using utensils and behaving like a family. Birthing the family dinner table. So you are accountable for me, yes? I will report back our learnings.
Wish us luck. It’s scarier than it sounds…this involves meal planning for all of us…and the other small detail – all of us sitting, eating … at the same time. Boo for us that we have done this maybe once or twice in almost 20 months and hooray for you if you do this often with toddlers. (PS, we go out about once a week and rock the “dinner table” at restaurants…so we can do this, right? Right.)
Any tips for dining with toddlers ’round the table? Family friendly recipes? Advice to distract toddlers? Wine suggestions? (Just kidding, silly. Everyone knows wine is for after bedtime.)