If you’ve known me for any length of time you’re bound to discover that I love family dinners, that it’s something we’ve usually insisted on in our home daily, with few exceptions. But I’m discovering that leaving two introverts home together for two months has unintentionally created new dining habits within our home – and it’s going to take some work to undo the new bad habits. Our life has been extremely busy since I got home from Colorado almost seven weeks ago, including trips to Italy, company from Siberia and England, a bathroom/air shaft fire in our apartment, holiday gatherings, Christmas and New Year’s celebrations with the nastiest of flus for myself mixed in too. So I didn’t notice the difference at our dinner table right away. But last week I finally realized, during a meal with just Norbi and myself with both kids off somewhere, that he was just staring at his plate and shoveling his food in, hardly looking up or saying a word. Being a woman, I immediately assumed something was wrong, that I had done something, that he was angry. Being the open person I am I also immediately asked him what was wrong, which confused my poor husband as he assured me nothing was wrong – besides the big things like the refugee crisis and his ongoing wait for the next season of The Walking Dead. I didn’t fully believe him, and so I watched and paid attention during the next meals – and realized he was eating all his meals this anti-social way!
Thus began my cross-examination of both daughter and father, with their admitting to having rushed through most of their meals while I was gone and most often not talking much to each other during them. Danny had homework to get back to, had often taken a nap after school and was just waking up for dinner as well, so was groggy. Norbert had also already exhausted his ‘dinner’ break from work in preparing the meal, and so was rushing through to get back to work. I was horrified to discover this huge breach of dinner behavior that had prevailed for basically all of my time away. And what is worse, simply pointing it out does not seem to be changing the behavior very well. They’ve created a habit, a bad habit…and we’re now working to correct it.
Tonight over dessert I admonished in exasperation for Norbert to, “at least set down your spoon and look around in between bites!”. My sweet husband complied, in his unique and over-the-top manner, leading Danny and Joshi to agree he looked like a meerkat guarding his peach cobbler, looking exaggeratingly from side to side in between his bites. This habit had two months to settle in and take root, with our humor and laughter intact, I’m hopeful we can banish it within the month. I’d invite you for dinner to check on our progress, but it seems to be worse without guests at the table, so you’d not be getting an accurate view of the bad habit. Though laughs and teasing would still prevail at our table, as always – at least that remains, even if I have to do most of the talking.