Monday, November 22, 2010

Dinner and a show

I'm an advocate of family time. You know, time spent as a family. However your family is defined, I for one, think it's important you all sit together and connect. Whenever. Dinner seems a logical time. Right?

Right.

Our family has six people in it. If you don't count the dog and cat and bird and the tortoise and the three spiders the 10 year old keeps in his room. Coincidentally our table also seats six. (This is going to be a problem if we have another baby. Someone will have to sit on the floor. I hope it's not me.) We eat dinner together every time we are together. (Which is to say Big Kids are not with their dad). This is four nights a week. The other three nights the Hubs and Ella and myself just stare at each other trying to figure out why it's so quiet. Oh and we have a conversation about something relevant, usually. Anyway, those four nights we sit at the table together for food and conversation. Kind of.

We had a game we used to play all the time when Big Kids were still Little Kids called Hi-Lo. Each person in the family would have the floor to discuss the high and low points of their day. Presumably uninterrupted. Presumably. We went in order of youngest to oldest. This worked. For a while. Then, somewhere along the way, this game become passe' and the chaos that we now recognize as dinner ensued.

Now, I hate to have to admit that I can't keep my children under control, but I can't keep my children until control. They're just too big to be sat on.

Typically it goes something like this:

Me: Dinner is on kids. Let's go.
Boys: (stampede) Where? Where? We're STARVING.
Me: Ok good. I'm glad I cooked then. Let's eat.
15 yo: Hang on MOM I'm talking to Marissa.
Me: No. You're not talking to Marissa. Get off the phone it's time to eat. (while trying to move out the way of the starving boys who think they are going to die)
15 yo: Ugh. fine
Hubs: Ok everyone let's get at the table. (He likes to play Good Cop)

Then... We all get to the table.

15 yo: (hiding phone on lap under table, text messaging, I'm just going to guess it's Marissa)
Me: Put your phone away please.
Boys: Where are the forks? Pass the _____? Pass the _____? PASS THE _______?
Hubs: Boys, don't yell at the table please.
Ella: (sleeping in the sling on me)
Me: OK let's try to have a civilized conversation. 15 yo (of course I would be using her name here), how was your day?
15 yo: (completely unaware I exist, still looking at phone in lap)
Me: I'M GOING TO TAKE YOUR PHONE AWAY. Please put it down.
15 yo: GE-AWD MOM. OK.
Me: Don't talk to me like that please.
12 yo: OHMYGOD IF I SAID THAT TO YOU I WOULD GET IN SO MUCH TROUBLE. YOU NEVER PUNISH HER. UGH. It's not FAIR.
Ella: (stirring in the sling on me)
Me to 12 yo: That's not true. And stop yelling.
Hubs: (silently eating)
10 yo to 12 yo: STOP BEING A BABY. OH MY GOD.
Ella: (now awake and looking scared)
Me to table: Alright that's enough. Can we PUH-LEASE just eat dinner and have a conversation without anyone yelling. Let's play hi-lo (please God can't we just go back to the days of playing Hi-Lo).
10 yo: OK. My high was.... when I had recess today and I was playing tether ball and...
12 yo: (cutting off 10 yo to recite line of movie/tv show or talking in one of his comedy voices)
Hubs: (laughing at 12 yo)
Me: (giving 12 yo dirty look)
15 yo: (rolling eyes) Can I look at my phone now?
Me: (head in hands) I give up.

And no one has even eaten yet. At this point I usually have some kind of mini-mental breakdown which scares the children just enough that they are willing to stop yelling and have a conversation. I've resorted to tears a couple of times. I'm not proud of it. Don't you judge me.

Does this sound familiar at all? Please say yes.

Dear. God. Please. Say. Yes.

I'm going to keep sitting sitting at that table though. At 6 pm on any given night that's where you'll find me. Even if I have to drag them all there kicking and screaming. It's happening.

We're eating dinner. As a family.

4 comments:

Lizzie said...

Oh Joni. I am so right there with you. I can't even get my family to the table. It only seats four. I can't get my husband to quit cursing, or eat healthy. Our whole family yells like red necks. It bugs me to no end.
Everyone who knew me as a teen would be shocked to know that I hate cussing, racist humor, poor diet, and laziness. I sometimes wish I was born Amish. Who knew?
Family is what it is. A mess. A lovely mess.

Anonymous said...

12 yo: OHMYGOD IF I SAID THAT TO YOU I WOULD GET IN SO MUCH TROUBLE. YOU NEVER PUNISH HER. UGH. It's not FAIR. (Favorite part, by far. Sounds just like him) Didn't he say something very similar last night? I love those kids...and they will thank you when they're older for all of those family dinners. :) You should really have coffee with my Mom, she could tell you some stories, we ate dinner together every night of my childhood...God bless her soul, I'm pretty sure that my brother shoved greenbeans up his nose for 18 years...Stace

The Great Quiram Adventure said...

Joni...I feel your pain. On the nights I am not in school...the above scenario is the story of my life...minus the teenage girl drama...but I do hope one day (adoption willing) that will come as well. I know it is chaos and you long for hi-lo but the important thing is they know you care.

RamosFamilyBlog said...

Joni,
You crack me up! You are quite a writer. I love to read all about your sweet and crazy life. You are definetly not alone my dear. I agree with the others, your kids will thank you one day for having these family dinners.

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