The ritual of family dinners have sadly almost disappeared in our home. I am not proud of this and I really don’t have a great excuse for why this has happened. I just know we should be eating meals together as a family, but we almost never use our kitchen table anymore. I understand how important it is to talk as a family, but the reality is it’s happening less and less. When the kids were young, we actually did great at making this an expectation. It worked and all fell into place, family dinners were the norm. It seems as the kids are getting older and the activities run later into the evenings, we are running in 4 different directions. I am always feeding my family on the run these days. Our dinners lately are eaten at different times for each person, served diner style sitting at the counter, and eating on paper plates. I know that when the weekends roll around, I should make family meals the rule. Not the case. I don’t have the energy or desire to sit down for a more formal dinner with four loud and fighting kids. I know we should, but my kids are not easy and I really could use some grown-up time. The kids are not accustomed to family dinners and it always seems to be a big loud 3 ring circus type atmosphere. There is always someone interrupting, another one teasing, at least one spill and another kid ending up in tears. Fun family time? No, not really!
This past weekend, somehow it happened and we all sat at the kitchen table together. Not just for any dinner, but a dinner experience. Fondue. This slow style of cooking and eating requires both patience and conversation. These are not things that I would consider my kids’ best traits. Before the 1st shrimp was in the fondue pot, we already had one fight and a spill. I was feeling that this was going to be a long “experience”. Luckily, between the 2nd piece of meat hitting the fondue pot and the 3rd fight, one of the kids asked to play Apples to Apples. My first reaction was not a chance, we should be talking, not playing a game during our special dinner. My brain said no, but my mouth said yes. Let the game begin.
We made it clear from the beginning that we were not playing to win and there was no keeping score. This was just for fun. So in between cooking and eating meat and veggies, we played the game of crazy comparisons. We laughed and really genuinely enjoyed each others company. Not exactly what I would have pictured for a fondue dinner, but we had a blast. I guess it’s not a bad thing to have controlled conversations with a lot of laughs, even if we were playing a game during dinner. As I’m trying to stay sane through these crucial years with my kids, I need to remember that it’s really about spending time together and not about what we are talking about. Even if it means laughing about things that are smelly, messy, goofy or dainty. The night ended with a sweet hug from my son asking when we can have a “fun”-due dinner again. Feeling blessed today and looking forward to our next wild, crazy and loud family dinner!