The Dinner Table

There is a lot to be said for the dinner table. It’s a great place to throw your things after work or school in your mad rush to get a snack/sit down/get changed for a game. It holds that stack of bills you have been meaning to get to until you actually, um, get to them. It looks beautiful when decorated for the season, and can really brighten up the room. It’s a great place to pack and unpack boxes and bags.

“Wait a minute,” you may be thinking, “I thought you were talking about the dinner table? Also known as the dining table. According to Dictionary.com defined as;

a table, especially one seating several persons, where meals are served and eaten, especially the major or more formal meals.

Isn’t that what you meant?”

I did mean the dinner, or dining, table. And I’m sorry. I should have figured out a way to have taps played as a memorial tribute to this dying American icon when you first opened my post today. Because it does seem to be true, the “Dinner Table” as we know it is becoming a distant memory. Thank goodness we can still retrieve the memory thanks to Norman Rockwell’s artistry. And the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. And old movies. Television from the 50s…

It’s not that bad you say? Oh good, I am glad to hear that. Because in a recent poll (only 22 people, all third graders) of my class, most do not eat regularly at their family dinner table. And when they do eat there, they don’t use the time to catch up on each other’s lives. They rarely even chat. I won’t mention what they say they are doing instead of talking to each other, I don’t have to. Just go to a restaurant and look for a family “eating out together”, you will see what for yourself.

The dinner table deserves a comeback. Our children deserve to hear their family’s stories. They deserve to be listened to as they retell the (often long and boring) saga of their day. Our parents deserve to be listened to when they reminisce the “old days”. Our food making efforts deserve the praise (or complaints) which will follow each mouthful. Table manners deserve to be re-instituted. Dreams deserve a place to be shared, trips need a place to be planned, books want a place to be discussed.

Voices need a place to be heard.

My students, the 22 who were a part of my original poll, need someone to listen to them. Someone other than just me. Because it is really hard to listen to 22 people, all at the same time. But I do listen, and they do appreciate it. I just wish more people in their lives would take the time to listen to them as well.

Come back, dinner table!

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7 thoughts on “The Dinner Table

  1. I agree! This is soo important! We have a strong dinner routine and I will say that it is sometimes painful (I have a 2 and 3 year old, and you can imagine that meals are not exactly always relaxing) but we know that we’re establishing the expected behaviors of dining that we want them to have when we go out to eat (which is also frequently) and we want them to have that together time with us. We need to start a dinner table initiative!

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    1. A dinner table initiative is a great idea. First a poll, followed by goal setting. No cell phones, no TV, everyone be present, listen while others talk! A whole school initiative! I think lunch time manners would improve in the cafeteria!

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  2. I agree with you 100% about the come back of the dinner table and that children need someone to listen to them because ‘ya just can’t listen to everyone’ at school. Though, one morning we started the day with our desks in a circle and we chatted and listened to each other for an hour as if we were sitting arjound the table. This of course was NOT in my lesson plan…the desks were in a circle for another activity, but it was the most heartwarming part of the day and I still remember it years later. I held on to ‘dinner time’ with my boys and they are holding on to that tradition with their children, too. Those Norman Rockwell meals are still out there, sprinkled across the country here and there. Loved your post. 🙂

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    1. They are still out there! I have a high school senior spending her last 5 weeks of school with me and she spends dinner with her family, at the table, no cell phones. And guess what? She is simply amazing; bright, curious, insightful, and…valedictorian of her class. I can’t help but believe that part of it can be attributed to the family dinner table!

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