Sometimes, getting through dinner is hard. Someone needs a glass of water. Someone spilled their milk. Someone doesn't like what's on the menu. This series is to share stories from around our table, even when it's sticky and covered in shredded cheese.
One evening a few weeks ago, we had a particularly hard time getting seated at the table. Dinner took much longer than expected to be ready and everyone was starved and exhausted by the time we sat down. It had been a long day of school and work. There was squabbling over who sat where. There were tears over what was on the plates. To be quite honest, I was tempted to plop everyone down at the coffee table and have dinner around an episode of Curious George.
Once we got got settled and everyone started eating, things changed. We started telling stories about our day. We laughed. Everyone ate the food on their plates and no one asked for a supplemental peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It was so pleasant that Nathan and I got to actually have a conversation about our day. Max excused himself and Nathan and I continued our conversation as we waited for the girls to finish eating at a turtle pace. When we got up to start cleaning, we found our eight year old son standing at the kitchen sink, scrubbing the pots and pans.
Dinner in front of the tv would have been alot easier. If I want to get really honest, putting our kids in front of the tv while we had some peace and quiet at the dinner table would have been much more enjoyable. But it was worth pushing through the hard parts to get to the good that evening. I would have robbed my children of sharing their day. I would have taken away the opportunity for my son to practice such kindness and initiative of cleaning up without being asked.
Some nights, the good parts of dinner will happen while we eat pizza served on the coffee table in front of an episode of Curious George. But I hope that on the hardest days and in the hardest moments of parenting, I can remember the good that comes from pushing through the squabbles and the spills.