Thursday, October 29, 2009

What do you do for dinner?

.....toppings for pizza

This post regarding family dinners by Leah Arinellio on the Motherlode blog of NYT had me laughing. A short segment:

I pass out plates of ravioli with some salad, and I pat myself on the back. For one, I put together a nice dinner, despite the fact that cooking and meal planning are not really my area of expertise. (Before kids I was content with French fries eaten on the fly.) More important, everyone is seated around the table. That’s right, everyone. My husband coordinated his client calls to fall before 5 and after 8, and my kids pushed back their normal mealtime so we can all have a real family dinner. Just delightful.
Or maybe not.
“I farted,” says my 4-year-old daughter. There’s really no need for the announcement since she’s seated on a plastic booster seat that doubles as an amplifier....

And the meal goes downhill from there. I laugh because we eat dinner together every night. 5:30. Its a priority for us and anchors the rest of the evening routine. But every meal is a circus. The kids are on and off their chairs, or someone has to go to the bathroom. Or there is spilled milk, rice, applesauce, yogurt. E and I are up and down getting one more thing, asking the kids to sit down and eat. I often cannot wait until it is over. Does it get better? As the kids grow older can we expect conversations and connections instead of spill prevention and the inevitable floor clean-up after everyone has excused themselves? I read and hear all the time how important this time of day is but everyone forgets to mention how to control the chaos - or that it even exists. What seems simple: set the table, say a prayer, be present always ends up wrong. The table is half-set, the prayer is breathed through food half-eaten and someone is always getting up for one-more-thing.


  1. Interesting to read the reader's comments on the NYT's piece. A little harsh in my opinion -- for a lighthearted take on dinner hour.

  2. I agree. They didn't match the authors intent at all. And I should add - whatever works!

  3. Sarah,
    Dinner gets better and better with time, but you just have to make sure everyone works their schedule around it----always. And make sure the kids don't wear headphones or bring their cell phones to the table.