In the third and final part of comparing home life for me growing up and the home life my children endure, I would like to look at the evening hours. The evening usually starts with dinner and takes us right into bedtime. Adults reading this will no doubt find striking similarities between how well-behaved they were when they were growing up and how tough the circumstances are for their children today.
Me: I may or may not be finishing homework when I am called for dinner, which has been cooked by one or both of my parents. Parents, siblings, and I sit down at the table. We eat the meal said parent(s) cook. We eat. We talk.
Children: Call children to assemble around the table in the dining room. After two or three such announcements, we finally have everyone. Miracles of Christ see what is for dinner and immediately order something else. “Something else” usually refers to leftovers in the refrigerator. The stuff we cooked the night before that was gross and made them lose their appetites, but I digress.
Me: Sit at table eating my meal quietly while diligently answering questions about my day. Remain seated until plate is cleaned and I am excused. My parents may tell you a story about me doctoring my vegetables with ketchup or steak sauce. We’re looking into nursing homes.
Children: After finding acceptable meals and sustenance for our little cherubim, we are finally ready to sit down to our meal. I try to talk to my wife but as soon as I utter my first syllable, The Oppressed and The Boy suddenly need to inundate us (read: Wife) with questions and stories. These are the same children who give me one-word answers all afternoon when I try to ask about school or their friends.
Meanwhile, we play our favorite game while eating dinner. We play “How long until The Boy needs to jump out of this seat and run around the table?” It’s usually one or two minutes. This is the only time we allow screens at the table so one of The Gaggle can use the stopwatch to see how long his self-control holds out.
Me: Dinner is finished. I have cleaned my plate and drained my glass of whatever it is my parents put in front of me. Usually milk as I was a growing boy. I bring my plate, silverware, and glass to the dishwasher and proceed to my room where I finish my homework, study, or find a quiet, constructive activity with which to occupy me.
Children: After telling the Miracles of Christ to sit down for the fourth time, we all take our plates from the dining room to the kitchen. The children, who inform us they are not hungry, return to the dining room to collect their plates. The Gaggle recaps how many times The Boy got up from his seat and what he did while everyone else was eating. Some children will either start to wash the dishes or run to their rooms to avoid washing the dishes, it really depends on who is saddled with the task. Those who are not burdened by the chore run to their rooms for a screen or a video game.
Me: After a few hours, I put on my pajamas without being told, brush my teeth, say good night to my parents. I go upstairs to my room, say my prayers, reflect on the productive day I had and fall asleep ready for what lies ahead of me tomorrow.
Children: Run around the house and say good night to everyone. Run around the house again to give a hug because they couldn’t have done that when they were saying good night. Ask for a story, maybe three or four. Eventually fall asleep.