Whine and Dine

Sharing a meal together with your family is not only a great way to bond with the ones you love, but it is also a way to get to know them better through taking time to communicate. We have made it a priority in our family to eat all together as much as possible, and to demand that all distractions (TV, computer, cell phones) are turned off or parked away. At these meals, we get to see the good, the bad, and the revolting. Through them, I have come to believe that there is some truth to Darwin’s Theory as I have watched the table etiquette behaviors of my kids like: licking their fingers (up to the 3rd knuckle of each finger), using their clothes as napkins and tissues, coughing and sneezing all over the pot roast, licking the bottoms of their salad bowl just to get every drop of ranch dressing, and my favorite – chomping crunchy food with their lips wide open. Now, it’s not that we haven’t tried to correct this behavior at least the same number of times as the numbers in our national deficit, but it takes years of shaping to remold the etiquette clay.

The conversations we have at dinner are, at times, very colorful and full of interest and laughter. Once we got done with the initial whine and “cheez mom, I don’t like what we’re having” and the follow up of “go to your room until you can come back and be appreciative for what you have” conversation, the rest of the conversation tends to be very enlightening and sometimes even enjoyable. As a family, we try to all sit down to dinner without distractions and usually all together. We have had great discussions about our faith and our extended family, and especially what they learned in school that day. My daughter, who was studying science that day, was quick to inform me (as I was eating a second helping), that she learned that day that I had more mass and volume than her or mom. Needless to say, I simply smiled and put back my second helping. My wife started belly laughing and it has now become a running joke and is written on the sign right above my Weight Watchers frozen dinners.

But most important to me, is the one-on-one time I get to spend with my wife when we go out to dinner (without the kids).  We have to fight the urge to ask for a “kids menu” and to scold any children in the near vicinity of us. We have taken these times to rediscover the person we have married and the beautiful person they have become and are becoming. We connect on issues of importance and most important, we get to actually finish all of our sentences.  We even enjoy the times of silence and just look at each other. This wasn’t always this way, and took time for us to rediscover the importance of dating each other and continuing to grow in knowing each other on a regular basis.

Meals are important to all of our existences and we have to partake in them 2-3 times each day. So they are great opportunities for true family communication. Plus, we tend to think better on a full stomach. I relish the meals we have had as a family and a couple. Even when the kid’s animalistic behaviors surface, they give me and my wife so much to laugh about at bedtime.

Written by: Greg Schutte

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