If there's ever a time when I get wistful about how other families live, it's dinnertime. It's often not the most calm event. Max may insist that Dave feed him (because he knows that I'm going to say "No, Max, you feed yourself!"). When Dave caves, as tends to happen, he gets sucked into feeding Max. Or Max might want to watch YouTube Cars clips on his iPad, and get super-upset when I won't let him, and no amount of reason will help. Or Sabrina might have a tantrum because she thinks Max got a bigger serving of soup or whatever; lately, she's been very jealous of the attention he gets and has been saying things like "You love Max more than me!"
But last night's dinner was great, and not just because the kids had mac and cheese and Dave and I had takeout Chinese. (And, why, yes, of course that is how our dinner table looks!) We tried Table Topics, a deck of 135 cards with questions to answer; we have the Family version. A friend gave it to me as a present months ago, and we've never gotten around to using it till last night. We mostly let the kids respond, and here's how it went down:
Me: "What would you most like to change in the world?"
Sabrina: "No more mosquitos!"
Me: "Anything else?"
Sabrina: "Maybe the poor people could get money."
Me: "What would be on the menu for your ultimate birthday dinner?"
Max: "Ars ooo I eee asy!" ["Cars 2 ice-cream cake!"]
Sabrina: "Macaroni and cheese and pickles and ice-cream!"
Me: "If you lived during the Gold Rush, would you have journeyed West to strike it rich?"
Me: "Nope! I can't stand traveling when everyone else does."
Sabrina: "No, because I could have cut myself."
Max: "Ars ooo I eee aay!"
Me: "What do you enjoy most about each of your siblings?"
Sabrina: "When Max laughs at me when I be funny!"
Me: "Max, do you think Sabrina is a funny sister?"
[Sabrina proceeds to break into some crazy dance involving the words "Cars 2! Cars 2! Max loves Cars 2!"]
Max, cracking up: "Eeeyah!" ["Yeah!"]
Me: "Would you rather be funnier, smarter, or more athletic?"
Sabrina: "Smarter, because then I could do anything."
Me: "What would be the positives and negatives of having a new baby in your family?"
Sabrina: "It would be good if the baby was good and I could hold her!"
Me: "And what would be bad?"
Me: "Max, would you want a new baby?"
Max: "NOOOOO! Ars ooo I eee aay!"
And so it went. But of all the answers, this was the one that made me beam.
Me: "How is your family different from other families?"
I searched Sabrina's face after I asked it; I wondered if she was going to mention Max.
I was hoping she wouldn't.
And she said:
"Because we look different than other families—you know, our eyes and our hair!"
And I so loved that.
How does dinnertime go down at your house?