Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Reading Dinner



You know those moments as a parent, when your children make your eyes well and your heart feel like it might burst with pride and love? Well, today was not one of those days.

The best thing I can say is that at least they waited until we were home, rather than starting in the car. I imagine it was the audiobook that saved us there. They were at each other from the moment we walked in from school--picking fights, poking each other, smarting off, and screaming. Lots of screaming.

I have to confess that, after a while, I was doing some of the screaming. I was particularly disappointed (with them and with myself), because I'd picked them up from school ready to be a good, interactive, playful mom. Not the dinner-cooking, dish-washing, no-I-don't-have-time-to-play-charades mom that I usually am. T-ball was cancelled for rain, and I thought we could all work on some project together, play a game, be together. Instead, screaming.

When we finally aborted our craft attempts and confirmed that the neighbor kids couldn't play, it was time for me to make (reheat) dinner. At that point, they each grabbed a book and a bean bag in the book corner, and the house was quiet. Blessedly, peacefully, sanity-returning quiet. The corollary to never wake a sleeping baby is never interrupt the kids when they are quiet and happy, so I struggled with whether to call them to dinner at all. Ultimately, I decided that we should eat while the food was hot, so I called them to dinner. Four times.

They both meandered to the dinner table, book in hand, trying to walk and read. Dinner usually is a time to talk about our day and try to get some sense of what is going on in their lives and their heads. Today, all I asked was, "Reading Dinner?" They both nodded, so I picked up a book.

We were joined at the dinner table by Curious George, Greek gods, and Anne Lamott. They were very quiet dinner companions;  not a word was spoken until plates were clean. When the kids asked if they were allowed to have dessert, I allowed each a popsicle, just so we could continue to sit in peace with our books.

Once dinner was over, mayhem returned until I declared the day over and sent both upstairs to their rooms, where they were allowed to stay awake longer as long as they stayed in bed and read. Quiet returned. Books are maintaining this mother's sanity.

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