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.