Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Family dinners: Try one tonight!

Like most families, we're a busy lot.

Okay, this is starting out like a One-a-Day Vitamin commercial.

Anyway, my bride and I decided way back before starting our blessed quartet, roughly around Seattle's grunge era, that we would eat dinners as a family.

Having both grown up dining within the radioactive RGB glow of the Motorola, we resolved to sit down, at a table, and savor our daily bread while absorbing one another's workday testimonials.

As a child, I indeed supped at a table with my DNA squad, yet the sole orator in the dinnertime conversation was Walter Cronkite. We were forbidden from talking, lest we miss the grandfatherly Cronkite's confident oration of the day's casualties in Southeast Asia.

I felt kind of sorry for my sister since she had to crank her kielbasa-stuffed gob a full one-eighty to register the slaughter, while I could effortlessly and simultaneously bite into my buttered white toast and watch a napalm-induced jungle inferno.

I think that was right around the time the letters "CBS" began representing "Carnage Before Substance."

So yeah, later on during the Nineties, when I still had a ponytail and John Lennon glasses and my wife savored the tail end of the eighties poodle perm craze, we resolved to sit at the table as a clan to enjoy our fish sticks and tater tots with no external distractions.

But not until kids came along, of course. As a childless couple, we could perch ourselves in front of "Entertainment Tonight" and I'd have already downed all my pot stickers and half my Kung Pao Chicken before the end of the Winona Ryder shoplifting story.

Dessert? Usually Ben, Jerry and Alex (Trebek).

And then our first daughter arrived . Time to put up or shut up. We scooted a chair out of the way, pushed her high chair up to the newly purchased IKEA table..and it was game on.

Sixteen years later, I'm happy to say that the game continues. Sure, there are exceptions—Friday night movies, major sporting events, The Oscars—but family dinners have proven to be the most grounding and entertaining exercise in which we engage all week.

A snippet of typical table talk:

Younger Daughter: "I let Autumn borrow my deodorant in gym today. I know I probably shouldn't do that, but I sort of feel sorry for her because she smells like..."

Older Daughter, interrupting: "Seriously, you guys, I was looking at my stomach in the mirror this morning and my two-pack is looking so good..."

Younger Daughter, interrupting: "You just interrupted me."

Older Daughter: "Sorry. But really, check this out (exposing her bare stomach). Is this not a highly-defined two-pack?"

Younger Daughter: "I don't care about your stomach. Can I finish talking please? Thank you...I forgot what I was talking about. Anyway, Ashley and Jonah are dating now, so there making it Facebook official tonight and then they're...

Older Daughter, interrupting: "Ewww! There's something in my Au Jus!"

Younger Daughter: "You just interrupted me again! And it's a piece of bread. Stuff gets in your Aus Jus all the time! Look at mine. It's got stuff in it, too. Now listen to what I'm saying!"

Older Daughter: "I think I need a bang trim."

Okay, so it's not always riveting dialogue, but hey, this band won't be together forever, either.

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