Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Family Dinner - Not That Simple Sweetie

There's a new book making the rounds in the USA and I tell you what - it's getting on my nerves a bit.

Entitled "The Family Dinner. Great Ways to Connect with your Kids. One Meal at a Time", by Hollywooder Laurie Daivd, who co-produced "An Inconvenient Truth" and was married to comedian Larry David for decades. Ah yes, a typical American family.

To be fair, you can't argue with her main message - that family meals, where we all sit down around the same table, and (gasp) have a conversation, are a good thing. In reality however, it doesn't work for a lot of families, and that's not even a new thing. From the age of about 12 to 18, my four dance lessons per week were in the evenings, which meant that my family ate without me. I came home every night to a once-hearty dinner perched atop a pan of boiling water. The gravy was baked onto the paint like a coat of tar, the minced/ground meat resembled tiny pebbles, and the mashed potatoes disintergrated on contact with a fork. No microwave in our house then.

Last year I was thrilled that my own family had dinner together every night. The Little Guy's activities, which were minimal, ended well before dinner time, and the older two did things at school, again, well before dinner time.  Having two teenagers, I can't tell you how valuable this time was for finding out about flunked tests, upcoming projects and general teen gossip. I would also venture to say that the sibs grew to like each other more than your average teen family, even if the competition for air time made our kitchen a very noisy place. (Once, when my mother was visiting, I looked over at her during a very animated dinner conversation, and she had her hands discreetly placed over her ears. Ah, good times.)

This year it's all gone pear-shaped. This is now our weekly evening schedule -

Mondays - Man-child has enrolled in a School of Rock thing (5-8pm)
Tuesdays - and voice lessons at the same place (5.45 - 8pm)
Wednesdays - Little Guy has a piano lesson (4.45-5.15) and Man-Child has a guitar lesson (5.30-6.15pm)
Thursdays  - Little Guy has a theatre class downtown (4-5pm) which of course, swallows up a good 20 minutes on either side. 
Fridays - depends on what the teens are doing. We quite often go out for a family meal though.

There goes the family dinner, (not to mention my sanity with all that schlepping around of kids and trying to cook a meal when I'm not actually in the kitchen.) 

And then Laurie David comes out with a book encouraging us to make time for family dinners. Not that simple sweetie.


  1. In our family, the schedule above would only mess with two family meals. We tend to wait until Babes is home from work and eat then, which is usually about seven. It's really not practical though with the kids being two and six years old. I should probably feed them at a more reasonable time, but I - like you - love the family meal too much. I hate books that say what we all "should" do too. I think we all try our best, but life happens in the middle.

  2. Expatmum...I'm learning to freeze out all the background noise. Be true to yourself...what works for you...go with it! ;)

  3. At least if you are doing a family dinner once a week, that is better than nothing. And if it entails going out to eat, even better. You get to sit down and relax with everyone; bonus. The other six nights of the week you'd probably just get on each other's nerves anyway.

  4. We try to eat together, but yes, it does depend on activities. My kids are painfully slow eaters, so Husband and I finish first and then have to sit and watch them. Do they get quicker as they get older?

  5. I can never rely on DH to be home much before 8 and the Girls (being 2 and 8 months) go to bed at 7. I've introduced a weekend meal where we all sit together, then hope for occasional unexpected 'work-from-home' moments so that DH can share breakfast with us. I guess I'll make the most of it whilst it lasts. And rely on the miucrowave the rest of the time.

  6. Well, I was saddened to learn of your heated up meals when you came in late from dance lessons, but perked right up to learn that you can dance. Probably on your toes. Still. :)

    Someone was once actually married to Larry David? No way! Get outta here.

  7. Oh god - you've just shown me the future... (although to be honest, monday to friday Husband is never home before 9 at any rate, so we're already reduced to weekend family meals only. Where did it go wrong?)


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