Friday, May 9, 2008

Stay for Dinner!

My son had a friend over after school to work on a project. Why is it that every time my kids bring a friend home from school, it's a day that I've been exceptionally lazy? I hadn't even gotten in the shower yesterday when Austin showed up with his friend. And to make it worse - I knew he was bringing a friend home with him. He had asked permission the day before. And still, there I was in flannel pajama pants, unshowered, half a box of cereal on the family room floor, unwashed dishes on the counter. Lovely. If the poor kid needed to go to the bathroom, I was going to offer to drive him down the street to 7-11 so he wouldn't have to wade through my mountain of laundry to find the toilet (which was in serious need of a scrubbing).

We ate dinner early yesterday because we had a softball game to get to. We're eating really early most days now because of baseball/softball. "Hi kids. I know you just walked in the door from school, but here, have some dinner so we can leave." Ugh. It's either that, or we're eating at 9:00 PM. We opt for early.

Anyway, since we ate early and Austin and his friend were still working on the project, his friend ate with us. It was a typical dinner in my house. Five conversations were going at once and it sounded like total chaos.
Finish your meatballs.
I can't. I'm wearing flip flops.
Where's my game tonight?
Mom, can I go to John's birthday party?
Can Tyler stay for dinner too when he comes over next week?
I want more spaghetti.
I don't like meatballs.
Stop playing with monkeys at the table.
I can't. I'm wearing flip flops.
I need posterboard.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha!
Excuse you.
Oh, I can be excused? Thanks Mom. Bye.
Sit back down and finish eating.
How do you spell "happy"?
Lexi, where are your glasses?
I dunno.
Remember, there are only two places they can be!
I know, I know. On my face or in the case.
So where are they?
Moooo! Moooo!
No animals noises at the table.
But I'm a cow.
He can't stop. He's wearing flip flops.

During this, Austin's friend is just staring at us like we're insane. I swear I saw him mouthing, "Go to a happy place, go to a happy place..."

Now this kid actually has 3 older siblings. Of course the siblings are much older and 2 are off in college so I doubt dinners in his home go down quite like ours. Still, at least he's familiar with having siblings and the goofiness that goes with it. I really worry when one of my kids has a friend who's an only child over for dinner. I can only imagine what they go home and tell their parents.
"Mom, please don't make me ever go back there again. They scare me."

Still, I can't imagine quiet, calm dinners with a minimum of conversation. That wouldn't be very fun. I mean, I could probably finish my dinner while it was hot, and I'd probably be able to digest it without feeling the burn of an ulcer, and my blood pressure would stay under 180/100. Yep, no fun at all there.


Michelle Kemper Brownlow said...



Anonymous said...

i only have 4 kids & my dinners are like that. in my defense, my teenagers think that they have to have friends over all the time & did i mention they come in mininum of pairs? until recently, i cooked for 10 kids nightly, not always were 4 of them my own. i wouldn't trade it for the world though. i don't think i scare off the friends, but i think we have permanently scared off any adult friends, when we had anyone over for dinner, they would typically just stare.... (in amazement or horror, not sure). You're great... love your blog, can't WAIT for the book, haven't read a book in years, but yours is going to be the next! hopefully soon after it comes out!

Shellie said...

I'm impressed you got them all to the table at one time, that's my challenge. Because of that, our dinner would be at nine, or in the car. Someday we'll actually be able to digest our dinners without the kids there and then instead of the ulcer and high blood pressure, we'll be too lonely to enjoy it.

Laurie said...


Where you listening at my Kitchen window last night around 6:30?? I swear we had that conversation at my dinner table last night!

I can't were flip flops to school tomorrow, I have gym.
The car needs a tune up.
My braces are stuck in it.
I want the pink flip flops.


Suburban Correspondent said...

I fantasize about eating a nice quiet yogurt by myself, every single evening when the kids are grown and gone. I sure hope Larry is on board with that.

Anonymous said...

LOL! I only have half as many as you and still find our meals to be totally chaotic. I feel your pain - I don't remember the last time I actually sat down to a hot meal. Usually, once I the chair the words "mom, I need...." are spoken. Honestly, your house sounds like lots of fun to me :-)

Anonymous said...

Did you see the family on the Today show this morning with 17 children? They showed a clip of them having dinner. They were all sitting quietly, eating politely and listening to their father read Scripture. Not a crumb was off a plate. I was in awe. Can you imagine a meal like that? Not in my house.
The best part was when the parents announced to their kids that they were expecting child #18. They had just found out Monday. I about fell over laughing when Meredith V asked, "Do you know yet whether it's a boy or a girl?" HELLO?! They just found out MONDAY! Or by #18 do you know the gender and name the moment you conceive?!?

Unknown said...

I love that movie! I can't believe anyone was wearing shoes to dinner. That would never happen in my house. ;)

I need parenting advice BADLY on my blog today. If you get a chance, please check it out!

littlemissattitude said...

I am an only child.

When I was younger, I loved eating with friends who had big families. It was great entertainment. :) And, no, it never frightened me.

What would frighten me is what Tina described. That much order among that many kids is not natural. I have one family of cousins with five girls, and their father always demanded perfect behavior at the dinner table and had rules like, you can't pass anything across the table, it has to go all the way around. Now, that was frightening.

Anonymous said...

Honey, don't feel so bad, at least you actually sit as a family to have a meal. I have only two kids, and they sit at the table for ten seconds, grab a bite, walk all over the house, grab another bite, yell from the house to call their little friends over, grab another bite, pull each others hair, another bite, find a toy and bring it to the table, and so on. The list of things they do in between their meal is endless, and this all happens while I stand over the sink eating my dinner. So relax. I promise you that there are worse habits out there, myself included.

Anonymous said...

Dawn, absolutely LOVE your blog.

I'm an only child too. Growing up, I was very close with one of my cousins who was from a family of four. We would often sleep over each other's houses and we would fight over which house. She always wanted to come to mine because it was quiet and she didn't have to "fight" for her meals - and I wanted to go over her house because I loved the chaos! And my Aunt always gave me my food first because she knew I could never survive the feeding frenzy!

Now I have four of my own and my cousin stopped at two!

I think a little "controlled" chaos at dinner is what family is all about!

Happy Mother's Day Dawn, you've earned it!

Anonymous said...

I can promise, as someone who was an only child for the biggest part of her childhood (my baby sister arrived much much later), any only child would love the buzz and noise!

Rebekah D. said...

That sounds a lot like the conversation my sister, our friend and I had today at lunch, only we made the mistake of taking FIVE kids age 3 and younger to lunch at a restaurant! The owners are friends and were understanding, but still... Right about the time my 3-year-old poured a whole salt shaker of salt onto a table, her 2-year-old started flipping the lights on and off, and my 19-month-old decided to dumpster-dive in the trash can, I thought, "I wonder how many women immediately make appointments to get their tubes tied after a few minutes spent watching our kids go insane?"

Anonymous said...

Dawn, I loved your recount of the discussions at the table. But it could be worse -- the Duggar family from Arkansas (you know, the ones who are on Discovery Channel all the time) are pregnant with #18!!! Can you imagine THOSE dinners? Not as wacky as yours, to be sure, but certainly confusing! I wonder if any of them wear flip flops?

Keep up the excellent work! We luv ya!

Anonymous said...

Couldn't make the YouTube video work. Oh well.

I think if you anticipated dinner and had it ready for a number of people to eat before the game, you get a box full of gold stars.

Everyone talking at once is better than no one talking. Our teenager is becoming silent and words can't always be coaxed out at dinner. How was school? Fine. What did you learn? Nothing. Anything interesting happen? No. Got much homework? Done it. Oh well.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

It will be 27 years of having had kids in the house before our nest is empty--we'll have no idea what to do with ourselves!

Olivia Michal said...

Anonymous said...

Here's a fun dinner idea. You have to sing everything you would like. "Please pass the peas" in song. "Would you like a roll" in song. My brother, sister and I used to do this and it was really very fun. We still talk about it eventhough we did it nearly 15 years ago.

Anonymous said...

I only have three children (one of whom can only coo) and that is what my entire day sounds like. By bedtime I've usually hit some serious sensory overload!

Sarah said...

You know something? I've always wanted a family dinner table session like that. I yearn for it in fact, and have to admit it, I envy it whenever I come across it.

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean...with 2 teenage sons, I have a steady flow of traffic and combine that with a 5 year old, and their friends always walk into a mess. I clean and 5 minutes later.....

As Cape Cod Turns said...

Um, Dawn, did you read about your competition today? Yup, there is some lady that is pregnant with her 18th kid.Granted they live in a 7000 square foot house, but still 18 kids?! And she is 41. How do you like them apples?

Anonymous said...

I came from a big family. Of seven kids. I'm the third. I love it when we eat together as family at supper time because we rarely do that. And of course, we all talk nonsense, but I enjoy it. :)

I used to be the baby of the family for almost 12 years before the four little ones appeared. Oh, my, I LOVED being the big sister. :)

By the way, I love being in a big family that I want to have ten boys and a girl when I get married. I love reading your blog. :)

Michelle said...

I'm with those who were always fascinated by the noise and chaos -- that wasn't tolerated in my house. And yep, I'd probably be sitting there slack-jawed and quiet taking it all in.

Congrats on feeding them... and not simply in the car!

Anonymous said...

I grew up with 3 other siblings and we always had friends over at dinner and I remember all of the many conversations and loud noise that was going on at the same time. I am now a mom with an only child. I had begun to take for granted the quiet atmosphere. A few years back we had 3 neighbor kids over for the day. They were siblings. I remember them and my daughter sitting on the floor playing a game when all of the sudden a loud screaming match began to take place between the 3 neighbor kids. I remember glancing over and seeing them yelling at each other and then my daughter caught my eye. She was sitting in the middle of them with her hands over her ears, eyes closed, rocking back and forth. It was hilarious! I guess she really missed out on what was normal for me as a kid. I love your stories of your every day life. Take good care and enjoy!
Happy Mom's day to you.
Jenny F.

debi9kids said...

Sounds about right! LOL
We have had our kids have friends over who have no siblings and honestly, they couldn't take it. But, also, my kids had better dinner manners than the only children, who i suspect may never sit down to a family dinner, or atleast it's quite rare.
One thing I do always notice... the more kids a family has, the more likely they have actual family meals.
So, well done you!
Hope you have a wonderful Mother's day!!!

Mary said...

We have dinners like that, a lot (though with only three kids). When my kids go to other friends' houses at dinner time, they tell me that 1. the friends' parents hand them money and tell them to go out; 2. the family wanders through and picks at food in the fridge; 3. the family sits down and yells at each other, or sits in sullen silence. I'll take our way of eating dinner any day.

Anonymous said...

For the record, I only have one child - and dinners are anything BUT quiet!


Unknown said...

I only have 3 children and our dinners are a lot like that....however, my husband is the one doing the cooking. He is a great cook. I am an only child and I am always asking him - "Is this normal? Why do they argue all the time?" and then I tell my kids - "If you were an only child you would appreciate having someone to play with!"

Kathy said...

I have two kids, so I can't relate to quite the chaos. However, mine are always yelling at each other at the dinner table so it's hard to really discuss anything else. I just started work with a lady with 6 kids though, I'm sure she has had similiar discussions.

Cheryl said...

Embrace the chaos! LOVE the chaos! My kids are grown and married, I'm a widow, so dinners are just me, the dog, and the TV. B-O-R-I-N-G! I'd love to sit in on a dinner at the Meehan house! Sounds chaotic but fun. :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi Dawn, Here's a SSO question. Do you say a prayer before dinner? Do you all take turns? What kinds of silly prayers do the kids come up with? Kristine in Michigan.

Unknown said...

As a family of 6 our dinners are pretty much like that. Funny you mention an only coming over. My oldest son's best friend is an only. The first time he came over to play it only took two hours to ask to go home. I wonder why....

The Gang's Momma! said...

I was gonna say something witty and snarky about the noise and the chaos and sometimes wishing that I had a mute button or a pause button to "freeze it all" for a moment (to preserve my sanity, not necessarily to freeze the memories).

Then I read Cheryl's post (10:52 on 5/10) and I teared up. Okay now I'm off to hug my kids and embrace the chaos. Thanks Cheryl for the great reminder to cherish the moments!

Happy Mothers' Day All!

miriamp said...

I'm not the only one who says "on your face or in the case?" Yet somehow, here "in the case" gets very loosely interpreted to also include on a random bookshelf ("in the bookcase," of course.) I don't think it includes inside the couch, though (as in, all the way inside, through the hole in the upholstery, the last place we found them when they went missing...)

Yeah, dinners are like that too, minus the flip flops, as we don't happen to have any of those.
(mama to 8)

Jill said...

And here I thought having only one kid was a justifiable reason for having half a box of cereal on the floor. God help me if I ever have six kids, I'll have a minimum of three boxes of cereal on the floor at all times. What's the point in sweeping, anyway?!?

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