Merriam-Webster defines dinnertime as the customary time for dinner.
Like A Dad defines dinnertime as the customary time for shit to get real.
Parents, you know what I am talking about. Parents of young children…well, have a glass of wine.
My memories of dinnertime with my family are pretty good. Most revolve around the fact that we always ate at the table together and how nights became known as “insert dish” night. I always loved spaghetti night for example. Sure it got weird when I hit puberty and started infringing on seconds and thirds, which by house law, always went to my dad.
I also have memories that are crammed way down in my memory banks of sitting at the table many hours after dinner was over because I did not want to eat liver or meat pies. But, like I said, 85% of the memories from my childhood are good ones.
But what I am learning now is how all those experiences were seen from the other side of the table. The parent side. Our boys are five and two. They are fairly well-behaved and when the food matches their hit list, they like to sit at the table and eat. Katie and I look forward to dinner. We look forward to sitting with the boys, sharing a meal and talking about our day. Well, I think we need to postpone that fantasy for a few years.
As of right now, dinnertime is a shit show. It is different every night. You can’t even predict what will go down. I guess the only constant is Katie and I are pushed to the limits of being patient. I have asked around to friends who also have young kids and without a hesitation, they also say dinner time is pretty bad.
It’s kind of like a hurricane forming. Katie and I have these warm feelings of a nice family dinner after a long day of work. The boys, however bring a counteracting cold vibe to dinner thanks to being totally exhausted from a full day of school and daycare. Conceptually we get it. It’s the perfect storm really. It’s just unfortunate because these two hours are the only really quality time we have with the boys from Monday to Friday.
Now, while everything is not awesome, every night is not horrible. There is at least one night per week when the stars align and things stay pretty chill. Katie and I never say it out loud due to fear of jinxing it, but we both know it when we get it.
There are so many variables that breed dinnertime meltdowns. Combine two or three and well, you get the picture.
The car that was on the table from breakfast was in the wrong place.
The placemats were in the wrong place.
Melted cheese was sticking outside the sandwich.
Not wanting to remain at table while mom and dad try to finish food.
Being forced to go and play and not mill around waiting for dessert.
If we say there will be no dessert because a piece of rice is not a bite.
A full moon.
When we won’t hold their hand while they eat.
When the boy who is eating tries to eat the food of the boy not eating.
I could go on. Needless to say, there are 5,677 combinations that we have experienced during the dinner hour.
We have some friends who have two dinners. One for the kids where all the drama happens, and one for them when the kids are in bed. Sounds peaceful. But to be honest, I could not handle eating dinner at 9pm on a regular basis. But hey, whatever works right.
For now, we are going to keep grinding out these moments of madness and do our best to teach and formulate a routine of what dinnertime is. I mean, it is probably pretty annoying for me to complain at all. Millions of families don’t get to sit around the table and break bread together. Sure, some choose not to, but my point is, it could be much worse.
So from 6pm to 7pm, Monday to Friday, Katie and I will continue to try to keep it together. We will continue to try to move past fish and chips being the only meal that delivers calm. We will be sure to make sure there is always wine on hand.
So for whatever you call this period of the day in your house, we want to say, keep fighting the good fight. It gets better right? Like my memories of dinner, at least the crying and screaming will reduce over time. Right? Please?
To the parents who have no idea what I am talking about, it’s pretty hard not to hate you. Your kids probably eat kale and excuse themselves from the table only to wash the dishes. Okay, I do hate you.
Do you have any dinnertime horror stories to share?
Every parent has, or will go through what we dealt with tonight. A kid who did not want to eat their dinner, but wanted all the perks of eating dinner. You know, dessert, getting to watch a TV show etc.
But at our table you need to eat some of your dinner to even have the conversation about dessert.
Tonight’s dinner was homemade broccoli soup. Now you might think, broccoli? Of course the kid won’t eat it. But Harrison actually eats broccoli, so it being in soup was not really the issue.
It seemed more like a battle to prove who was in control.