Monday, 3 October 2011

Disorderly Dinnertimes

After rushing around for the whole day, cleaning, picking up dirty odd socks, playing with duplo (not on my own) not to mention the 3 school runs I am doing each day now, I look forward to the evening family meal as a moment to sit down, enjoy civilised, peaceful conversation about everyone's days and be revitalised by good food and good company.

The disappointment sets in when I bellow my "tea is ready" shout and they all rush into the kitchen like a herd of wildebeasts. 'Washing' their hands consists arguing over who will 'wash' first and then showing their hands to the taps, arriving, breathless into the kitchen whilst wiping their damp hands on their dirty trousers.

Jonah and Max then sit at the table, arguing over who is going to receive their food first whilst Toby, in full parental mode, tells them that whoever sits the most quietly will have theirs first.

Plates deposited in front of ravenous boys, they tell tales on who has started before everyone has sat down. Our clearly impossible rule is that no-one can start until we are all ready. At the allotted time, they dig in, and I really mean dig. Hands are used as cutlery, food is scattered on the floor, drinks are spilled and appreciative farm-like noises are made.

Once everyone has had their first few satisfying mouthfuls, I begin to ask questions about the day. In an attempt at teaching social skills and how to listen and converse, I stupidly try to make everyone listen when someone talks. Jonah has other ideas and shouts over the conversation. Max then shouts louder to be heard. I then shout louder to make them all stop shouting. Eventually, once everyone has stopped the noise, we again attempt conversation. Today was a perfect example of our civilised conversation:

Me: "What did you do today, Max?"
Max: (looking at Toby with a cheeky smile) " I saw a naked man at school. (giggle, giggle, snigger, snigger)"
Toby: "A real one? (giggle)"
Max: "No, in a book and (splutter, cough, snigger) I saw his nuts and everything".
Toby: "(Guffaw)"
Jared: (attempting to regain control) "Jonah, what did you do at nursery?"
Jonah: (looking at his brothers for approval) "I just did 3 burps at the table (giggle)"
Max: "(Loud belch)"
Toby: "I am the medium toxic gas machine."

At this point, we gave up attempting conversation and began crowd control. Everything we said or did was turned into something for them to fall off their chairs with giggles.
Rapidly finishing off the meal, we dispatched them to their various jobs and then sent them outside to play football to run off their silliness.

Perhaps I am setting my sights too high each night. Perhaps I should just send them outside to eat their meals. Perhaps tv dinners are the way ahead. Or maybe one day, just one day, we might be able to have a whole meal without talking about body parts.

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