Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Supper, Supper, Suppertime!

Tuesday’s New York Times science section had an article by Laurie Tarkan called “Benefits of the Dinner Table Ritual.” I intend to make dozens of copies of it, and paper my own kitchen with it. Because [insert singsongy voice here] I was riiiiight, I was riiiiight, nanananana.

That little descent into grade-school hell was for Baroy’s benefit, my frends.

When we first got married, Baroy and I didn’t have a dinner table. Or any table built for more than one person. We had, instead, tray tables. Four of them, in case we were entertaining. (Yes, I’m kidding. Though, now that I think about it, what DID we use when we entertained? Oh, yeah. Right. The big round glass table in our backyard. Not that we entertained that frequently, and not that the people we DID entertain were the kind to care about balancing paper plates on their knees on the rare day when it was too cold or rainy in Los Angeles to eat outside.) When it was just the two of us, we would eat in the living room, in front of the television. (Baroy is and always has been addicted. I’m mostly just codependent.)

Once I got pregnant, however, all that changed.

“We need a real table,” I announced one day.

“Why?” Baroy asked.

“Family dinners. We’re going to have family dinners. Kids need to have family dinners.”

Baroy gave me one of those measured looks that are rightfully the domain of men dealing with women in hormone-induced frenzies.

“OK, fine,” he said. “But you’re still in your first trimester. The baby won’t be joining us at the table for another year. Can’t it wait?”

My look was not at all measured. “No,” I said flatly.

And so, that weekend, we went out and bought a table. And six months after Em was born, when she could sit in a highchair without tumbling over, she joined us at that table. And we've done family dinners ever since.

As Em has grown up, and since N's addition to the family, that has become more difficult. Working until 6 a few times a week can really put a crimp in the whole get-dinner-into-the-kids-and-get-them-to-bed-at-a-decent-hour thing. But with the help of a crockpot, a microwave, good take-out places, and my own innate stubborness, we eat together four or five times a week, at a minimum. There aren't always four people at the table--sometimes Em has dinner at a friend's house, sometimes Baroy has work or an audition or a college basketball game for which he would rather divorce me than give it up to sit at the table with us, sometimes it's even me who's missing, off to a PTA meeting or somesuch. But we eat together. We do "Best and Worst" (which we did long before any stupid Michelle Pfeiffer/Bruce Willis screen fiasco co-opted it, thankyewverymuch). We talk about our days. Baroy and I discuss politics, and the kids grow bored and ask to be excused. (OK, so it's not entirely blissful, but what is?)

It's not that the Tarkan piece is anything new. Most people know that family dinners are beneficial, and if they can fit them into their lives, they do. But not everyone has the same list of priorities; to do this, I ultimately had to cut out Em's evening swim lessons, and switch gymnastics from an evening each week to an afternoon, for instance, because they were messing us up. For whatever reason--probably because I remember our own family dinners, painful as they may have been, especially during my teen years--it was critically important to me to do this. As important, if not more so, than nursing. Except, unlike nursing, my partner didn't entirely buy in at first. He's still less of a die-hard than I am about it, but he's converted in an overall sense. And that's all I care about.

Well, that, and the fact that I WAS RIGHT!

I *so* know what I'm going to be bringing up for discussion at dinner tonight...

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