So, we do spend family time together, but not really the sit-down-at-the-family-dinner-table-together-with-all-four-place-settings-and-salt-and-pepper-in-the-middle-and-taking-turns-saying-can-you-pass-the-peas kinds of dinners. And it wasn't a conscious a decision that we'd made, it just seemed to kind of turn out that way. Our work schedules, their bedtime schedules, and any number of other less significant circumstances just didn't seem to lend to the successful implementation of that sort of routine.
But Saia's 100% on the money to note that it's been missing, and I remember my own family dinners growing up, and how much it meant for all of us to be together in one place at one time with nothing else to do, so part of our new year's resolutions to the kids was to institute, at the very least, a family dinner night on Sundays, and see if we could make that work.
Tonight we had a tribute to Texas: chicken-fried steak with white gravy, buttery mashed potatoes, sweet corn, and Texas toast. And while it was yummy and all that, what I'm finding I'm most enjoying about it is exactly the reason we should be doing it. Everyone seems so much calmer. Everyone has a story to share. No one is yelling or hitting or biting. And the kids are well-behaved, too. :)
We get to work on our restaurant-manners and set the week up for success, sure, but more than that, the kids are enjoying our full undivided attention. No music, no TV, no BlackBerry, no iPhone, and no side discussions about work or friends or family. Tonight we talked a lot about how we Mommy and I grew up, about the pets we had, about Nelson Mandela and Mothera Theresa, about how best to catch a lizard, about the Good Samaritan Law, about how they would like Mommy to smile more in pictures (and no, I had nothing to do with that one), about when we're going back to Texas to visit (FYI, likely in June), and about what turning 6-years-old is going to feel like.
And they're just bottomless pits of questions. Insatiable little sponges. And, what's more, they're actually...gasp!...listening. They're not rolling their eyes at yet another lecture. They're not looking down their noses and counting the tiles on the floor while being reprimanded. They're not sitting in a corner counting the minutes until their time-out is over. They're listening and learning in a way that I think is really priceless, and in a way that I think is more long-lasting than any structured lesson we could try to enforce.
And as we're tucking them in, I'm amazed at how cool these little creatures are. And really really proud to be able to recognize this moment for what it is. And Chago asks me, "Mama, why are your eyes getting watery?"
"Oh, it's nothing, bubba," I say, wiping the tears from my cheeks. "I just hope you remember all these dinners when you're old and gray."
And suddenly he gets this awful twisted look on his face. "Oh, Mama, I'll try," he says in a worried little whisper, "but that's a lot of food to try to remember for that long."