Eating meeting

Child-rearing experts tell us it's important that families share meals.

Dinnertime should be a ritual, they say, a time for gathering together, sharing school news, discussing current events. A time of glowing cheeks and hot food and table settings worthy of a Norman Rockwell painting.

In households where both parents work outside the home, such dinners are difficult to schedule. But because I work at home, we frequently manage to get the entire family around the table at the same time. Here's what the rest of you are missing:

Dad: "Dang, I got all sweaty cooking this. What's the temperature in this kitchen? Eighty? Ninety?"

Mom: "Put your napkins in your laps."

No. 1 Son: "Broccoli? I hate broccoli."

No. 2 Son: "I'm going to miss my favorite TV show."

Mom: "Eat it. It's good for you."

No. 2 Son: "If I eat real fast, can I go watch my show?"

Dad: "Eat the broccoli. You want to get colon cancer?"

Mom: "Let's not discuss colons at the table. Put your napkins in your laps."

Dad: "I'm sweating onto my plate."

No. 1 Son: "If he eats my broccoli for me, can we both go watch TV?"

Dad and Mom: "NO!"

No. 2 Son: Whimpering noises.

Dad: "Enough. How was everyone's day?"

Mom: "Is that your napkin? Why is it on the floor?"

No. 1 Son: "The dog LIKES broccoli."

Dad: "I had a good day. How about the rest of you?"

No. 2 Son: Gargling noises.

Mom: "Don't gargle your juice."

No. 1 Son: "My day sucked."

Dad: "Don't say 'sucked.' It's rude."

No. 2 Son: Choking noises.

No. 1 Son (under his breath): "Sucked, sucked, sucked."

No. 2 Son: "Does anybody care that I'm choking to death?"

Mom and Dad: "No!"

Mom: "Mine went okay. But I was in meetings all day. I'm exhausted."

Dad: "You look tired."

No. 2 Son: "Pikachu! Pikachu!"

Mom: "What do you mean, I look tired?"

No. 1 Son: "A girl tried to kiss me today."

Dad: "Nothing. I mean, you said you're exhausted. Your eyes are droopy."

Mom: "Don't put your face down to the plate. Lift the food on your fork."

Dad: "Kiss you? What did you do?"

Mom: "What do you mean, droopy?"

No. 2 Son: "Do you like seafood?"

Mom and Dad: "No!"

No. 2 Son opens mouth so we can all "see" the "food" inside.

No. 1 Son: "Gross! You're disgusting!"

Mom: "Don't call your brother disgusting."

No. 2 Son: "Droopy eyes! Droopy eyes!"

Mom: "Don't be disgusting."

No. 1 Son: "I kicked her."

Dad: "Who?"

Mom: "What did you do all day?"

No. 1 Son: "The girl. Miss Kissy-face."

Mom: "Don't kick people. It's not nice."

No. 1 Son: "At least it's not disgusting. What is this meat?"

Dad: "The usual. Wrote a column. Laundry. Vacuumed the floors."

No. 1 Son: "I'm not eating this. Here, boy. Here, boy."

Dad: "Don't drop that on my clean floor."

No. 2 Son: "May I be excused?"

Mom: "Get that dog away from the table."

Dad: "Here, boy. Here, boy."

Dog (confused): "Arf! Arf!"

Mom: "You don't want seconds?"

No. 1 Son: "I didn't want firsts. Did Dad cook this?"

Dad (bristling): "Yeah, what about it?"

Mom: "It's very good. Eat it."

No. 1 Son: "Sucks."

Dad: "Where did the other one go?"

Mom: "He excused himself to go watch TV."

Dad: "You think he tastes anything when he eats that fast?"

No. 1 Son: "I hope not, for his sake."

Mom: "You're excused, too."

No. 1 Son departs, grumbling.

Mom: "Alone at last. That seemed to go well."

Dad: "Another successful family dinner. Is it hot in here?"

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