One of the many attributes that my daughter inherited from me was a love of reading. This can be good, but also has a bad side. We get addicted to books. We wallow in them. As a result, we both have the horrible habit of reading during meals. Since my husband is not a big reader, and it seems a bit rude to completely ignore him the few times a week he is able to join us for a meal, I established the “3-Person Rule.” When there are 3 or more people at the table, no one can be reading.
According to my daughter, this is the equivalent of being banished to Guantanomo. At least 3 times a week, it’s only the two of us at the table because I have to feed her before one of her extra-curricular events and my husband is not home, yet. So, she is happy. And I am happy. Because the book takes her mind off my bad cooking. And I get to read, too.
But when we have “family dinners”, she reads until I, the last one, finally sit down at the table, then glares at me, sighs dramatically, and pushes the book to the side.
That’s when it gets fun.
One of the many attributes that my daughter inherited from my husband was an aversion to small talk.
So, we sit in silence, the three of us, until my daughter says to me, “Don’t you have any stories to tell?” Not because she wants to hear them, but because she is bored. And she refuses to reveal anything about her personal life. And my husband just doesn’t really want to talk. So, it’s all on me – the woman forcing my family to socialize with each other.
And then I rack my brain for a story that I haven’t told a million times that’s appropriate to talk about at the dinner table.
My supply is being quickly depleted.
Today, I couldn’t think of anything. But, right when I ate my last bite (being a teacher who usually has 20 min. to eat, I’m always the first to finish), I remembered something. I regaled them with a true story from a book that I was reading. It involved someone who had been treated terribly as a child by his parents. Not exactly great table talk. But it was all I had.
“So, you see? You are so fortunate to have great parents like us!” I observed.
Without missing a beat, Dimples looked pointedly at my empty plate and said, in her best exasperated tone, “Who won’t leave the table even though they are done eating!”
Ah, the mistreatment that poor child has to endure.
Twenty years from now, she will show up for an appointment with some unsuspecting therapist who will be subjected to an hour of unrelenting anguished tales about the parents who abused her by forcing her to put down her book at the dinner table.
Oh, wait a second. No he won’t.
Because she’ll be too busy reading a book.
I can’t remember if I’ve told this story – which means that I’ve been blogging too long, I suppose.
Today, I was trying to think of a time when I laughed really long and hard. It seems like it has been far too long. And I remembered a time from when my daughter, Dimples was about 5 years old.
We were eating dinner at my in-laws’. They lived out of town at the time (or we lived out of town- depending on your perspective), so we did not eat there too frequently. In the middle of dinner, Dimples hopped out of her seat, and said, “I’ve gotta go to the bathroom.”
Embarrassed by our daughter’s lack of manners, I quietly prompted, “Say, ‘May I please be excused?'”
A bit louder, “Say, ‘May I please be excused?'”
“Huh?” She looked at me quizzically.
Preparing myself for a Battle of the Wills that I really did not want to fight in front of the in-laws, but, more importantly, did not want to lose in front of the in-laws, I loudly and firmly said, “Say, ‘May I please be excused?'”
Dimples, a bit upset at my insistence, cocked her head, and said defiantly, “Why? I didn’t pass gas.”
My father-in-law burst into a guffaw as I dropped my fork, and my husband grinned. My mother-in-law smiled. Poor Dimples had no idea why we were laughing so hard.