There are some things in life I think everyone does because I do them. Like folding undies, having vegemite toast with my hard boiled eggs and counting on my fingers what number the months between April and September correspond to.
Growing up we had dinner as a family. Both of my parents worked and sometimes Dad wasn’t home in time, but our little family of five would sit at the dinner table most nights, and even when we didn’t sit around the table we would sit on the couch watching Sunday night TV eating together, chatting in the ads and probably watching re-runs of Cheers.
Now I have my own family of five and we do the same. I’ve lived in a bubble that consists of a little family having dinner together at night – not every night, but most and I thought that’s what everyone basically did.
Are you guilty of overparenting. Is it worse than underparenting?
Then the other rather hot day beside a sporting field a mum was complaining to me about her messy teen. Yep. I understood. Ohhh. Yes I did. Clothes on the floor, unmade bed, lost everything, five million lost travel cards and then she said:
“And she never brings her dinner plate in. She has old food in there from dinner. All she has to do is bring her plate to the kitchen and she can’t be bothered to do that.”
Cue a movie double take that was going on inside my head. They don’t eat dinner together? Maybe it’s just a one-off thing? Maybe I’m hearing wrong. This mum has always seemed really sensible. Why would you think having dinner in bedrooms is a good idea?
Then, because I needed to know more and asked very specific questions but I hope in a very nice way, it became clear that their family of four didn’t eat dinner together. Sure, sometimes they did – usually when people came over. It was “easier with everyone’s different schedules” for people to just eat dinner when and where they could. That could be bedrooms or in front of the TV by yourself (they didn’t watch the same things on TV either).
Then I had images of a house with the roof taken off and all these people sitting in all these different rooms eating their Malaysian chicken curry alone. A little bit of yellow curry stain left on a desk next to a lap top. I couldn’t help thinking about that stain.