Is the family dinner necessary in today’s world? I feel like my family is the poster child for the answer. Let me introduce you…
Me: Self-published author who also works a job-with-a-steady-paycheck that is located approximately 45 minutes from my home. I spend half that ridiculously long drive trying not to develop road rage over the fact that I am wasting precious minutes of my life just sitting in my car. The other half I spend coming up with new plot lines, potential publisher pitches, and new, hopefully interesting blog posts.
Eldest child: Eleven-going-on-sixteen-year-old-girl (he’s a boy, by the way) whose personality not only seesaws between Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde, but also has a slightly-obsessive (don’t know where he gets that personality trait) interest in electronics. Specifically computers. Specifically how the internal pieces of computers function. He comes out of his bedroom long enough to droll on about things that sound like a foreign language to me. I do my best to pretend to care, but I’ve never been a very good actor.
Youngest child: aspiring animal savior, actress, I-just-want-everyone-to-love-me adorableness that I feel utterly guilty ignoring. Not that it stops me when I have a deadline or a really awesome idea floating around in my head.
The hubs: “Are you ever going to make money at that pastime?” To be fair, since I’ve landed my first (two!!) publishing contracts, he has become slightly more of a believer. The question has altered somewhat to, “When do you get your first royalty check?”
As you can well imagine, these four personalities combined with the typical middle-class American busy lifestyle does not allow for much togetherness time. The kids are old enough now that even on weekends during which we are not committed to something or another, they would rather be… Somewhere other than hanging out with their parents.
Sometimes, I don’t mind this because weekends are about the only time I have available to write, and that’s a lot of word count to cram into forty-eight hours. But everyone now and then I have to check myself, remind myself that I am also a mother and these two kids still require a little bit of maintenance before I can thrust them out into the world.
Someone needs to teach them right from wrong (or at least remind them of the lessons we taught when they were younger and more impressionable and, let’s be honest, cuter.) Someone needs to make sure they aren’t getting bullied at school (or being the bully). Someone needs to ensure they aren’t flunking out of elementary school, thus ruining any chances of a scholarship and that dream vacation home on which I secretly plan to spend their college savings.
Hence, the family dinner. In one thirty or forty minute session each day (okay, every third day), the hubs and I are able to wrap our heads around our kids lives.
“I learned how to skip count today.”
“I learned that there were three primary Native American tribes in Michigan.”
They may not always like it (especially if we’ve let them snack within a few hours of dinner or if we forced them to give up playing outside with their friends to come inside for family time), but they know the routine. And every once in a while, just as soon as I walk in the door after work (or sometimes, they will even call me and tell me as I’m still driving home), I get the excited review of one of my kid’s day, and I know, in my heart and head, that I have managed to do something right in this whole child-rearing gig.
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