Amanda Hopper Writes

A writer's tale of living and working in the country.

Family Dinner

I have a confession. We rarely ate dinner together as a family before this Fall.
That fact gave me tremendous guilt for years. The Hubs usually didn’t get home until around 8 pm, the kids were always needing to be wrangled, then in later years wrangled and driven somewhere. But on September 17th of this year, things changed.
The Hubs started working from home.
Those of you who know my husband and I well are balking. You know that I, when not volunteering or cleaning, love being a hermit. I adore the quiet of the farm and find great joy in getting lost inside of stories, whether it be reading them or writing them.
Hubs on the other hand, well he is a social creature *rolls eyes with the absurdity of the understatement*. As a rule, he never goes longer than ten minutes without talking. And fake-listening is out, there is a precedent for pop quizzes…
So when my handsome-force-of-nature invaded my quiet paradise, there were casualties. The first month was rough, I’m not gonna lie, but the storm passed and we are once again speaking.
Just kidding.
He’s speaking. I’m listening…
But we weren’t the only ones who had to adjust. The boys had their routines and their dad had rarely been around to witness the mass chaos organized evenings of homework, cleaning and dinner preparation. Needless to say, things changed.
Like family dinners.
I don’t have much experience with this time-honored tradition but I’m pretty sure we’re doing it wrong. In my head, I picture well-dressed family members surrounding a table filled with serving platters, napkins and properly placed silverware.
Our table, on the other hand, has mismatched plates and varying lengths of paper towels serving as napkins. Youngest divys out the silverware and his motto is “You get what you get and don’t throw a fit.” While I have, on occasion, had to eat spaghetti with a spoon, I appreciate the effort.
I also appreciate that Youngest has an artistic slant and likes to arrange the fruit bowl in pretty colors for our dining pleasure. Sometimes, he even adorns the table with flowers in a mason jar. I have learned to smile through gritted teeth when it is a petaled-stem from one of my bushes.
I always pictured family dinners as somber affairs, with polite conversation mingling among the sounds of forks and knives on china. Not little boys chewing the middle out of their grilled cheese, and using peas to demonstrate how the event horizon created by a Stargate will most certainly vaporize people.
Or ceremoniously stabbing a knife into bread declaring, “The sword in the biscuit,” while each testosterone-gifted person takes turns trying to prove their kingly-ness by struggling to free the sword.
Or that inevitable moment that someone says something unbearably funny and milk spurts like a fountain across the table from a mouth, or worse, a nose.
What am I doing wrong?
As the only girl in the house, my answer is clear.
It’s the boys’ fault.

1 Comment

  1. Ahh, home sweet home, PaPa.

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