The Magic of Family Dinners

We recently decided to start having family dinners because Zoe is going to bed later. And because all the experts say it’s good to have family dinners.

While she’s going to bed later — sometime between 7 and 7:30 — we still have to eat super early if we want to eat all together. So we aim for sometime between 5:30 and 6. So — like the obedient and good housewife I am — I have to have dinner almost ready for my Mister when he gets home from work. We’ve been doing this a few nights a week fora while now. It’s a disaster. The experts are crazy and clearly don’t have kids of their own. This is what a typical family dinnertime looks like at our house:

Zoe, who has been whining for the last 30 minutes about God knows what, has now decided she wants to go in the snack shelf in the pantry and pull everything out. “Nope,” she says. “Nope. Nope.” She’s looking for cookies. I’m not going to engage her about this. Dinner will be ready in 20 minutes. I just have to outlast her.

Whining continues. She. Must. Have. A. Cookie. If she doesn’t, her heart will break. She will die of hunger. Or she will send me over the edge and I will curl up in a ball upstairs without my dinner. “Up. Up. Up,” she demand, wanting me to hold her. When that doesn’t work she changes it to “Up-Peez. Up-Peez. Up-Peez.” She’s a very polite whiner.

Mark gets home just in time. He distracts her while we work together to get dinner on the table. Now Max, who has been sitting peacefully in his bouncer chair for the last 30 minutes is losing it. He. Wants. Bed.

I. Need. Wine.

Max is going to have to wait. Mark gets Zoe in her chair, puts Max’s bouncy seat on the floor and uses his foot to bounce him to happiness while we eat. It’s the newborn parent workout.

Kaley starts whining at her bowl for food. I get up. Feed her. I sit down.

We forgot salt and pepper. Mark gets up. He sits down.

Zoe takes one bite of dinner. Spits it out. She gets up. She gets under the table. She tugs on my sweatpants, because that’s how I dress for dinner these days. She wants a cookie. Not until she eats dinner.

She gets back up. She’s done. She’s forgotten she wants a cookie and now runs off shouting “Play, play, play!” That’s fine. Go play. See if I care. We get five minutes of quiet. It’s quiet because we’re not talking because we’re eating so quickly, trying to get done so I can put an increasingly grumpy Max to bed. We stare at each other.

Eighteen years to go.

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3 Responses to The Magic of Family Dinners

  1. Jenny says:

    Oh, how I know this game. This all sounds very familiar. Apparently 5:30/6pm is too late for my children to eat. Sadie has to eat at 4:30 or else she snacks until bed time. So, I make her eggs. Which she might eat like it’s the only meal she has ever had or split at them in disgust. Then Gracie wants eggs which means she eats at 4:30, too. The only people who eat at 6 are mom and dad….. which every else is playing musical chairs and making us move around the table the whole 10 minutes it takes us to stuff our faces.

  2. Pingback: Dinner Out |

  3. Great Auntie Paula says:

    ha, ha, ha..somewhere I will try to find the picture of the Knebel family dinners growing up…it looks exactly like the photo you posted here, minus 6 others…a la Steppford Family style. There is another of you eating in your high chair…shoot one of your family dinners as described above and make a composite. It would clearly show how things have changed over the years – yet still the same…all following the experts’ advice!

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