Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I Hate Dinnertime!!!

"I HATE dinnertime." my old neighbor once confessed to me. I was somewhat shocked. Not because she hated it, I was pretty frustrated with my kids at dinner too sometimes, but I was shocked because she confessed it. It doesn't look good to admit to hating time with your kids. So when she said that I commiserated appropriately but I filed it away as something I would never do.
I lied.

Right now, I hate it. Lately, I don't know if it's because it's summer time and we have seemingly chucked all rules and parental authority out the window along with the expectation that the boys should actually put shorts on and not hang out in their skivvies all day....
or if it's because our boys are 9, 7 and 3 now and have figured out that they actually outnumber us and seamlessly pull their stunts around the table so as to distract us from how much food is actually getting consumed versus smushed around on their plate.

What ever their scheming drunken troll minds have cooked up, I have had it. I am ready to either eat in silent protest, away from them, out side or upstairs, or quit altogether, point to the fridge and say there's the food and go out for dinner by myself. I am quite tempted by the last one, but I would probably have to get a job to pay for the dinners, and another job is the last thing I need.

So after asking Bronson to get his foot off the table, Bodee to actually move his jaw and chew the food inside his motionless chipmunk cheeked mouthful of food, Ben to stop putting his napkin on his face and eat...and then asking Bronson to eat, and Bodee to eat and then asked Bodee to pick up the food he dropped and Bodee to stop swinging his head back and forth to try to see what an earthquake feels like and then ask Ben to stop poking at Bronson's food, and Bodee to stop complaining about his food touching, and Bronson to use his fork not his fingers....

I got present to what was really there for me, ,and I say to them, "I don't enjoy eating dinner with you."There is a silence and stillness.
"And I feel really, really, sad. Because I want to be with you, you are my family and I love you, but when we sit down for dinner and you kids don't eat, you just play and complain about your food, I get upset and sad. And then I don't want to be with you. What should we do about this?"
"Should I quit? " I asked
"Should I eat outside by myself?"

Ben thought about it."If you and Dad have to ask us more than 3 times then we get a spanking."
I got even more upset."So... then I am in the middle of eating and I have to stop and hit my child???"
"Ohhhhh.." Ben's face fell.
Todd sensed the misplaced upset and tried to calm me, "He's just trying to problem solve, Zen."
"Okay" I took a breath, of course.
"That person could eat outside..." one of the boys offered, "by themselves".
"Yeah that person could eat outside by themselves and stay outside all night if they don't eat and sleep on the rug," another suggested.
This brought Bronson to tears. He hates sleeping alone. I could sense his stomach clamping up as big droopy tears rolled down his cheeks as he put food in his mouth in slow motion. I silently prophesied a stomach ache later. Ben looked really sad. Bodee even looked concerned.

"I have another idea!" I said almost excitedly, (I was too damn tired to muster up being really inspired.) "How about you kids just eat?"
They looked at me like it was an actual new idea.
They got it.
"Listen if we go to the swimming pool, what do you do in it?"
"Swim." said Ben simply.
"Yeah. Do you do your homework in the pool?"
"You swim in the pool. The pool is for swimming. That's what you do there. Dinner time is time to eat dinner. Not play, not do oragami, not argue or complain. Just eat."
They looked at me like I had just deciphered the code to Bible.
But we'll see if they have seen the light tomorrow night.

I don't have a breakthrough to share tonight folks. This is it. I still hate dinner time, but I feel better after sharing this. I know someone out there, maybe my old neighbor, maybe you, has some nugget of an idea that I can use and turn into inspiration. I am counting on you this time. Help me out.
What do you do to either get through dinner without killing off your young...or if you actually love dinner time, please share your secret with me. I might pay you millions.

Zen Honeycutt

1 comment:

  1. Zen - I love your confession to your sons. I think this was a great start. Actually, I had a similar experience tonight where I just told my son how I felt, instead of giving him a consequence. The results were pretty cool.

    Anyway, I don't have much insight. I do go to when I have questions, though, and I know she has some ideas for mealtimes. One idea I have yet to try is to read books at the table. Aloud. This entertains them and keeps them focused on one thing, and then they don't have to entertain themselves doing the other things you hate. Could be worth a shot.