One of the family goals we hoped to conquer upon moving to Beaver was to reclaim our family dinner time which was dangerously close to becoming obsolete.
For whether it was me who was out at a coaching appointment over the dinner hour, or George at a church meeting, we seldom had a night where we all sat down and ate together.
We really wanted this to change and have thus made the effort to give the traditional family dinner a high priority every day. Happily, we can now report that since moving to Beaver there have only been a handful of times when we haven't enjoyed the family meal together.
Many bloggers have commented about the importance of families eating dinner together, and articles have been written on the subject in defense of this important family activity, and yet, it is still treated as a very old-fashioned custom to many families today. And with the increase in extra-curricular activities that actually occur over the dinner hour, family dinners have taken on an archaic reputation.
We may not have the fanciest dinners each night, and at times, due to my lack of planning, we wind up munching on plain 'ole pasta with olive oil and salt plus a steamed vegetable. Setting the table is also a mish mosh of "you get the plates", "and hey, I need a cup", or "you with the face. how 'bout a fork", but, regardless of the meal or the structure of how the table comes together - WE come together.
Last night was a doozy.
One of our favorite meals is George's baked/fried tofu with soy sauce, kale chips, and some sort of Asian soup. Wonton was the winner last night.
Once the food was on the table, the REAL reason for family dinner began.
Harper started the conversation by recounting a training exercise at Girls on the Run which had the girls audibly "ka-booming" activities that are not healthy, in between running drills. She shared three with us.
"Too much alcohol, smoking, and, um, marinara."
Ok, obviously, we knew she had it wrong, and she knew she had it wrong, but all of us had a time trying to figure it out.
Oh. Light bulb. So we're slow.
"Harper, I think she meant marijuana."
"Right. That's it. It's a drug."
That's when the conversation really got good.
"Have either of you ever been drunk?"
I stared at George, knowing the answer. He stared at me knowing the answer. This one was his.
"What about smoking. Ever smoked?"
George stared at me knowing the answer. I stared at him knowing the answer. My turn.
The conversation which ensued resulted in our children being completely freaked out over Daddy being so drunk once in college that he head-butted a stop sign thus splitting his nose open. And then there was Mom who learned how to smoke while sitting on a curb in Munich, Germany while on a High School choir trip to Europe. I was enticed by the colorful cigarettes they sold, (in pink and purple) and was desperately wanting to fit in with the seniors.
"Mommy! Are you going to die! I don't want to talk about this!" yelled Zane.
"No, honey, I threw those cigarettes away. Onto a train track from my hotel window. I don't smoke." I failed to mention the Virginia Slims that I occasionally purchased at the 7-11 after returning from that trip. Based on Zane's reaction, I thought it best to leave that part out.
George shared about his grandfather who passed away from emphysema, and how by the time he was old enough to really know his grand-dad they couldn't really play together because he was ill from smoking. This had a huge impact, as Harper and Zane idolize and adore their grandfathers.
He also shared that it is ok for adults to drink alcohol, but that it is not safe or healthy to drink so much that one's judgement becomes completely loopy, thus making an activity out of accosting street signs.
For a first time discussion about drinking and smoking, we kept the fare light, leaving off the marinara sauce. At least, this go around. Dinners are bound to get saucier. In time, I'm sure we'll add discussion about marinara.
Ladies and Gentleman, may I present, The Family Dinner.