True Lies

Do you remember back at the start of the year when I made the monumental effort of having everyone eat at the table, together, every night?

It’s wonderful, we still do it, it’s become second nature now. We are so much closer as a family as a result, and my children have expanded their palates wonderfully too.

No. No, that’s a lie. Sorry, I couldn’t find the sarcasm font, but here I am admitting once again, just for a change, that I fell off the good parenting wagon. Or the good housewife wagon, or whichever wagon it is that applies here.

(No comments from the rabble down the back about silly wagons, now. The Americans won’t understand you, anyway.)

All summer, we slipped out of the habit, and I said “Well, when school starts again we’ll get organized and the TV will be off and they’ll be doing their homework and we’ll have dinner at 6pm all together.”

Nope. Nope nope nope. They come home from school and they want to flake out in front of the TV, not sit down with books and pencils. And they want snacks, and more snacks, and then they just want dinner, with no perceptible pause in between. And then, when he’s had some snacks, Dash wants to go outside and bounce a basketball or kick a soccer ball with his friend, and even Mabel does too, sometimes, or else she wants to play with her animals and her babies and her tiny bits of who knows what, making them do things and say things and basically working out her whole day’s experiences and frustrations the way she always does, re-grounding herself through her imagination.

And guess what? I want to let them. Because that’s what they need to do. And because it’s easier for me to give them a plate with food on it that I know they’ll eat, while they watch TV in their vegging out time, and then they can play while I get the other dinner together and we adults eat it in relative peace, and then the push for homework can begin, and because they’ve eaten early, it won’t all push on and over into bathtime or bedtime.

(Mabel’s homework is quick and easy and she doesn’t mind doing it, so long as I don’t pester her but let her come to it in her own time. Dash’s homework takes longer, but he does it in his room now on his new desk. The hard part is getting him there, but once he’s started he’s pretty self-steering.)

But the whole thing – routine, lack thereof, whatever it is – conspires against eating dinner together, and they still won’t eat what we (the adults) eat, which I fully understand is a circular argument and a self-fulfilling prophecy if I never sit them down with us and offer it to them; but I’m fighting one battle at a time here, and right now the dinner battle is not the one I’ve chosen. I don’t know what this one is, maybe it’s called giving up for the moment, but this is what I’m doing.

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I just didn’t want you to think I was all bloggy perfect in my life. I’m not. I don’t want to pretend to be. I want us to be honest with each other, so that the world inside the computer is as imperfect and real as the world outside the computer. That’s when you make connections, not points.

autumnal leaves on the ground

Random picture of leaves on the ground, which you are at liberty to believe is a metaphor for anything you like.

 

5 thoughts on “True Lies

  1. Emily

    I think that’s brilliant. Brilliant because it’s working for all of you right now. And that’s what life is about, right? Being willing to change, moving, flowing, and doing what works right for you, right now. (I know I’m freaking you out saying this, but bloody hell, I think Mabel is my daughters twin, she processes in exactly the same way)

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  2. Wendy

    Thanks for reminding me I’m not alone! My husband is pretty much never home for dinner and I just can’t get myself into cooking a formal sit down meal for a picky 9 & 7 year old. It’s much easier to let them eat what I know they like and get back to playing outside or in their rooms or watch tv. Cause yup, they do that and sometimes they just need to.
    When I do manage to pull together a family meal on the weekends it’s much more appreciated….at least that’s what I tell myself!

    Cheers

    Reply
  3. Ana

    My position: kids don’t need “family dinner”. They need ROUTINE and time to talk to their grown-ups and be a family together. Whether that’s dinner or breakfast or bedtime or whenever, as long as they get that, I think they are fine. I love LOVE the image of Mabel working things out with her animals & babies. Mine do that too, and when I eavesdrop I am always perplexed and amused. And yes, time to simply BE and play and do whatever it is they need to do is really important. I feel like I’m failing my kids on that, because by the time they get home from daycare its time for dinner & bath & stories & bed only to start again the next morning.

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