Sitting at the table as a family for dinner is so ingrained in my head that I have never considered any other course for my family. This is a good thing because I keep hearing of studies that prove the benefits of family dining for the individual diners, particularly the children. Dinner is a unique time when we begin to unwind and focus more on one another and less on the pressures of the day. It is a great time to get to know our families better.
I recently checked a fantastic book out of my library entitled "The Family Dinner" by Laurie David. She is a huge proponent of having dinner as a family and her book is all about how to accomplish this. One thing that she addresses is the necessity of interesting conversation that will engage the participants and make dinner together more enjoyable. Besides the obvious rules of avoiding outside communication (i.e. phone calls and texting), this requires question prompts and even assigned topics of conversation. I decided to try to do better with this and hopefully make dinner more interesting for my family.
There is a poem that always makes my children giggle, which I believe applies well to this situation:
Daddy Fell Into The Pond by Alfred Noyes
Everyone grumbled. The sky was gray.
There was nothing to do and nothing to say.
We were nearing the end of a dismal day,
And there seemed to be nothing beyond,
Daddy fell into the pond!
And everyone's face grew merry and bright,
And Timothy danced for sheer delight.
"Give me the camera, quick, oh quick!
He's crawling out of the duckweed!" Click.
And the gardner suddenly slapped his knee,
And doubled up shaking silently.
And the ducks all quacked as if they were daft,
And it sounded as if the old drake laughed.
Oh, there wasn't a thing that didn't respond,
Daddy fell into the pond.
Sometimes a bit of tumbling into the pond is all you need to kick start an interesting conversation. Laughing over dinner is a good thing. Children need to laugh and love to do it when given the opportunity.
Tonight we played the "I'm thinking of an animal that..." game and talked about George Washington and Theodore Roosevelt.
This is the link to Laurie's website:
© Katherine C. Otterstrom, July 2012