Five people around one table.
A meat, a veggie, a starch, and a fruit.
No utensils in the dishes…no passing…fend for yourself.
brothers on one side, me and mom on the other, dad at the head.
The kitchen is warm–so warm that the large front windows behind my brothers are foggy with steam.
There is the usual grumbling of what we each see that we are not a fan of.
There is the usual reassurance by my mom that we do, indeed, like those things.
“How was school? What did you do? How was your math test?”
grumble grumble grumble grumble.
Discussion becomes just between Mom and Dad. Work. Boring.
Bored siblings start in on each other.
“Did you wear that shirt again?”
“Yeah, what’s it to you?”
“It’s stretched out.”
“So is your face.”
giggles. “So is your MOM’S face.”
milk out of someone’s nose.
“you’re so stupid.”
“you are. loser.”
“kids…that is not nice. That is NOT how we talk to each other.”
“But mom, he wears that shirt every. single. day. And he wipes his nose on it.”
“I’ll wipe my nose on YOU!” He flares his nostrils of doom at me.
“THAT’S IT! YOU KIDS WILL EAT YOUR DINNERS AND QUIT BEING SO MEAN TO EACH OTHER!”
“Gross dad, food came out of your mouth.”
“I MEAN IT.”
Everything is quiet except for the scraping of silverware on plates.
“I need the butter.”
“your MOM needs the butter.”
“oh guess what! We did chair tryouts today and I moved up to 6th trumpet…from 10th, but I’ll probably still sit at 9th because Holly is still 10th”
“that is dumb”
“that is great, honey”
And suddenly everyone is talking. One louder than the other. Competing for their space and recognition.
At the time? I hated being forced to sit down five nights a week at five o’clock in the evening with no TV for dinner with my annoying family.
Now as adults? My brothers and I beg my mom to have family dinners. We miss the times together.
Are we any different than we were 20 years ago? Not at all. The same tired insults and come-backs fly from our mouths.
We still laugh at the ridiculousness of each other.
We still pick on each other.
My brother still makes jabs about how my mom makes a salad (but he eats it anyway…and I suspect she keeps making it that way because otherwise what would he bitch about?)
My mom jokes that it is hard for her to believe that we are all adults because dinner time? Has not changed at all.
Dinner with my parents and my brothers make me happy in a way no one can really understand.
To an outsider–we are yelling and hating on each other. Just ask Cort about the first time he sat down for dinner with my family.
But now when my brothers bug him about cutting up all his meat into little, bite-sized pieces before eating? He slings the mud right back at them.
And we all laugh.
I hope to give this to my children.
I hope family dinner time is something we can keep up.
Because sitting face to face with your family and knowing what is going on in each other’s lives builds something. It builds family. It builds trust. It builds togetherness.
Even when you’re busy picking on your brother’s weird nostril flare.