This Month's Topic: Focus on Finance

Dinner Conversation

My family eats dinner together almost every night.

It’s something that’s very important to me for a few reasons:

  1. That’s how I was raised. Every night, dinner at the table with everyone. It didn’t matter what dinner consisted of and sometimes the starch was buttered white bread, but it was dinner together.
  2. I get hungry by 6, just like my kids. I know there are some parents who wait until their kids go to bed to get their dinner on, but I couldn’t last that long. Did I mention I get really crabby when I’m hungry? No one would last that long.
  3. I am all about only cooking the minimum. I like to cook and all, but cooking two entirely different meals means more pots, more dishes to do and too much work.
  4. The conversations that happen during those dinners are worth it.

Up until last night, it hasn’t been anything to write about. Just really sweet, little nothings. Laughing at Sophia while she attempts to use a spoon and losing all the contents on her shirt before it ever makes it to her mouth. Praying together beforehand, with Adam holding Noah’s hand still as he tries to shove another piece of meatball in his mouth and Sophia watching with this big smile, almost like she thinks it’s our little skit we do for her before dinner.

Our dinner companions.. on a different night.

Our dinner companions… on a different night.

And then there’s Noah’s top question at the dinner table: “How was your day, Daddy?”

Ugh. The first time he said that, I about melted. It was so sweet. And honestly, he truly wanted to know. He would listen and nod as Adam talked about the ins and outs of his day (abbreviated, of course).

Then Noah started to have a follow-up question. The same one every time, but always just as sweet.

“Who did you see?”

It makes sense. The questions are the same two questions that Adam likes to ask Noah at the table: “How was your day, Noah? Who did you see?”

I can’t tell you how neat it is to see how we’re rubbing off on our little man. (OK, not everything he learns from us is gold. In fact, I am getting more and more nervous to take the kid out in public, so afraid of what he’ll say that he’s learned from dear old mom and dad.) But when it’s good stuff, like “Who did you see?”? So incredibly neat.

Last night, it got even better.IMG_1035

There we were, sitting down to a pretty boring chicken dinner, Noah dressed in his Spiderman pajamas, with webs in the arms and everything, and Sophia, already covered in applesauce, tipping the bowl over her face, working hard to get every last lick. Buzz and Woody, seated at the empty chair across from Noah – as always, ever present. Adam and I were talking about our days while the kids were busy with their food. (Side note: Our dinner conversations are never longer than a minute or two. This is not a miracle dinner table by any stretch of the word.)

There was a moment of quiet and Noah looked up and predictably asked, “How was your day, Daddy?”

And, ever the enthusiast, Adam responded with his also very predictable,  “It was good, Noah! Thanks for asking!”

On to the follow-up: “Who did you see?”

I sighed. Adam had just finished telling me he had led a meeting of 30-plus people all day, and I was a little concerned he was going to start naming names. When he starts naming names, Noah likes to ask what their kids’ names are. And on and on it goes. Not the most interesting conversation of the day, but definitely not the worst.

Anyways, Adam didn’t name names, but instead started to describe the different groups of people who were in the meeting with him, Noah nodding along.

Adam finished his explanation by telling Noah he was in charge of teaching them all something that was very difficult to learn.

IMG_1036Noah surprised us both with an, “Interesting! How did you do that?”

Adam and I looked at each other and smiled at his response. “How cute was that?” Meanwhile, Sophia started whimpering and reaching for her drink. For a moment, I was lost in a world of good conversation, forgetting that we were sitting at a table with two, young children.

Noah continued to ask a few more questions, and Adam finally ended the conversation with something like, “It’s important to always keep learning.”

With that, Noah agreed, “OK,” and it was over. The magical, little moment ended. And Noah shoved an entire chicken nugget in his mouth and proceeded to chew it very loudly, as if to remind us that he is only 2 after all.

Now, I’m not saying that my kid is a genius. Not by a long shot. I’ve seen genius kids on the news and talk shows. Noah is not speaking five languages, doing complicated math problems or memorizing the presidents. He’s just a kid who sits and eats with his parents almost every night and, in doing so, has picked up some social cues.

Again, not all of the things he’s learned from us are great. Did I mention the little boy said the “sh” word on the same day he dumped his milk all over the ground and laughed. (I still don’t know why I’m not getting a mother-of-the-year award, people!)

But on nights like tonight, I can see that our family dinners are making a good difference. Our kids are learning how to be little people in this great, big world. These are lessons that aren’t often stressed – basic consideration and politeness, and they’re lessons that go the distance.

Yes, it’s wonderful if your children get straight A’s or are superstar athletes. But if they can’t look a person in the eye and have a conversation, even for a moment, they’re at a real loss.

So, we’ll continue our family dinners. And tomorrow night, during our simple but wonderful conversations, I’ll remember to put a bib on Sophia if she has applesauce again, and I’ll make sure Noah takes smaller bites. But, most importantly, all the while, I’ll be talking with my family.

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