And let’s not forget reminders like, “Too much! Slow down. Hurry up, its getting cold. Chew! That’s too big, you could choke. Drink your water. Please don’t stab the table with your fork. Elbows off the table. Elbows off your brother. This is my chair, THAT is your chair. Just eat, no more talking.”
Left behind are leisurely dinners by candlelight, savouring food and adult conversation. Family dinners are loud and messy. Just like life.
Milk will get spilled. Peas will roll onto the floor. Ketchup will end up in somebody’s hair. Kids will pick out the onions. Parents will eat the leftovers from their children’s plates. And someone (usually me) will rest their forehead upon the table, while mentally willing her children to just eat one more bite.
Dinner is a dance. It’s not always pretty, but I know I’ll miss it terribly when it’s over. My elderly
husband and I will look at each other across the table, and our bifocaled gaze will fall upon the empty
seats where they once sat and we’ll wonder where the time went. It will seem magical to us then. So as I scrape petrified macaroni off the floor and explain yet again why they must eat their vegetables, I will repeat the mantra, “Family dinners are magical, family dinners are magical…” over and over in my head and try not to worry about the spaghetti sauce on the wall or the dried plum sauce cemented into the dog’s fur.