Saturday, May 21
I do remember learning how to use a knife and fork, how strict my Dad was with table manners - 'Elbows off the table', 'Don't talk with your mouth full', 'Don't open your mouth when chewing' and that dread of all dreads - 'Don't leave the table until you've finished everything on your plate'.
I recall sneaking into the backyard and burying something once in the compost. Another time I vomited ham-steaks and pineapple all over our glass dining table. I didn't always conform and I've never been able to eat ham steaks or ham and pineapple pizza since.
Hubby remembers being told to eat the things he didn't like on his place first, and he coined his phrase which he even uses today 'Peas are poison'. (Luckily the frills adore peas). Talking of peas, I remember peas being used as a pretty hefty threat at the dinner table. 'If you don't eat your peas you'll have to go the kids' home where they shove them down your throat with a fork'. This was usually enough to have me eating peas in submission, usually doused in tomato sauce (ketchup).
When I was a teenager I don't remember eating at the table as much, moreso the television - maybe this was where the trend started - but then again that could be my hazy memory. I still remember in that period though, family dinners at the table, and moreso with nostalgia. Sharing the day's events, making plans, talking about food. There was no longer the crime and punishment of something left on your dinner plate - that was now called leftovers.
These days we eat at the table every night. The TV is off, we talk about those familiar things - what happened at school, what we're planning for the weekend and of course, this is where my little ones seem to ask the hard questions - 'What is God?' 'How do babies get in your tummy?' and the like.
There are certain rituals in this house too - we always thank the cook, and there are some rules about finishing your plate. Generally my girls are great eaters so we don't need to pull the heavy that often but we never offer alternatives and unless there is a compelling reason (i.e. we don't like it, they had a lot to eat that day or they are unwell) it's off to their room for the rest of the night to read before bed - i.e. no TV after dinner if they refuse to finish their dinner. It doesn't happen that often to be honest. We are working on asking if they can be excused from the dinner table.
It's important to me that we continue to connect each day with each other over our nightly meal. I worry when I return to work I won't make it home for dinner - what will happen then? There will always be the no TV and sitting at the table thing, but not altogether it seems. Perhaps only a few nights a week and the weekends... better than not at all!
Do you regard eating together at the table an important ritual or is it a car-drive or other routine in your day that gives you that interaction? Are there 'rules' at your house?
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