Dinner at Our House


The girl came home from school with a friend. Once she obtained some cash from me (so what else is new?) the two of them walked to the local farmers’ market to shop for some veggies. They returned just before dinnertime and so I invited her friend to stay and eat. I then asked the girl if she’d run upstairs and iron the napkins I’d left on the ironing board.

That’s right. It’s Tuesday and we’re using cloth napkins. Take that, you EcoWomen.

So I was finishing making dinner — just spaghetti — nothing really special and I overheard my daughter’s friend say this:

“We never have dinner like this. I usually just grab something from the kitchen and lock myself in my room for the night.”

It sort of choked me up for a moment. She seemed bewildered by our dinner preparations. Now, I don’t know what her life is like; I don’t know if there are reasons or if that’s just how dinner is done at her house. What I do know is that this is not the first time I have heard this kind of thing. I’ve had a group of the girls friends over for a sleepover and made them French toast to have them exclaim that they didn’t know you could actually make French toast; that it didn’t just come from a box.

I had no idea ya’ll were living like this. What are you feeding your kids? And how come you’re not eating together? Is that how you grew up?

I grew up sitting at a table with a placemat and all the food groups before me. Sometimes there was even dessert (maybe Jell-O or instant pudding). We sometimes went out to dinner, but we ate as a family.

I haven’t watched any of Jamie Oliver’s campaign but I understand it better now, I think. It’s not bad food in our schools and junk food marketed to our children and to us as convenient options for busy parents; it’s moms and dads not making the time and putting in the effort to be mindful of the food our kids eat and the chance to gather with them at a table. It may be, as it is often in our house, the only chance you get to eyeball those kids, make sure they’re OK and find out what’s going on in their lives, before they’re off to the next activity.

Please tell me there are more of you out there doing what we do.

About marijean

I'm a public relations professional, social media consultant and work-at-home-mom living and working in Charlottesville, Va. I'm Marijean Jaggers and this is my blog.
This entry was posted in Family. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Dinner at Our House

  1. Jennifer says:

    ok we eat dinner together most nights my boys wont be able to say that when they are the girl’s age since I agree completely i need to eyeball them!
    having said that- the idyllic notion of ironed cloth napkins and farmer’s market veggies during the week- well that is not happening (i do love my cloth napkins just not ironed). great post! i do enjoy having that family time at dinner.

  2. amanda says:

    one, despite the cheese factor, you should watch some of the J. Oliver show; really thought-provoking. And two, yes, especially now that Milo is of a more sentient age and disposition, we make a major effort to cook, sit together, all eat the same thing (or as close to it as toddler preference and capriciousness will allow), and talk. I want him to grow up thinking that is the normal thing to do. And also, to trick him into telling me things over dinner. 🙂 It’s *definitely* made me watch what I eat when he’s watching (and therefore, when he’s not watching) much more.

  3. I think you know that we do it the way you described — all of us together at one table, with a reasonably healthy meal in front of us, including some veggies and fruit. Definitely cloth napkins, but not ironed. We talk — oh how we talk — and we definitely go through everyone’s day to see how things are going. Tonight, we helped the older girl review the 50 states and capitals for a test she has tomorrow. Pete even sang the Fifty Nifty United States song.

    As for the napkins, well, I’m just so darn proud of you. I take it this might have something to do with a blog post I wrote?

  4. Mary Beth says:

    Like you, we eat together every night. And, have done this since Mia was on solid foods, even though it meant that the hubby and I were eating dinner at 5 p.m. for about two years. Now, when she sits down at the table she says, “so, how was your day?”

  5. Ricky says:

    You’re right, we did all grow up with dinner at the table with all (7 of) the kids and two parents. Have times changed? Sure, but only as much as we allow them to.

    I agree with you wholeheartedly, good eating habits begin at home and can last a life time. I am fortunate to have the wonderful wife that I have (noteably for exactly three years now as of about 5 minutes ago – no, we didn’t get married at midnight but it was the 26th) who makes sure that we have all the food groups represented and reasonable portions doled (sp?) out for “round 1”. Since we run a Mom’s House – Dad’s House arrangement I think its sometimes tough for the kids to aclimatize themselves to this enhanced regementation but I know they appreciate it. I’ve told them for years, I only have two rules; 1) Only one person talks at a time (inspired by the need to manange thoughtful dinner conversation) and 2) no real tattoos. I figure keeping those two expectations at the forefront of their minds all other social and life-altering decisions just fall into place.

    As far as ironing napkins – kudos to you. I don’t know that I could make “Only ironed cloth napkins at the dinner table” rule number 3 but it certainly seems reasonable to consider it.

  6. Danielle says:

    Growing up we never ate together — I didn’t think anything of it. Today we eat together and sometimes even one person likes it. (no cloth napkins though)

  7. Kirsten says:

    Meals together – check! Cloth napkins – check! Ironing the napkins – uh, no way.

  8. Sarah says:

    I don’t have children yet, but every night the hubs and I are both home, we sit at the kitchen table and eat. Not in front of the TV. We always evaluate our cooking skills with “could we feed this to our children and would they eat it?”

    So I plan on having dinner very similar to your family – I’m just not there yet. 🙂

  9. My mom and dad always made sure that we had a family dinner every night. Even if I wasnt hungry I still had to sit at the table and hear about everyones day. I am glad to see there are more families in St. Louis carrying out the tradition of taking time to get to know each other.

Comments are closed.