A teacher friend of mine told me recently that almost universally, her most well-adjusted students have two things in common: they talk about current events at home, and they eat regular meals around the dinner table.
I can see the logic of both of those, but especially the dinner table. Growing up, we ate dinner at the table just about every night, with conversation and no TV. It was non-negotiable, and I was under the impression that all families ate that way.
This is not to say that those who ate on TV trays in the family room are any less well-adjusted, or that simply shoveling food while in the same proximity as your family members makes you a better human being.
What it does do is open up an opportunity to talk to your loved ones, and in this time of snatched moments between sleep and shower, or quick recaps just before bed, I think we could all use a little more time to converse. If you think about it, when we want to catch up with our friends, what do we generally do? We eat. Sometimes at restaurants, sometimes in our homes, but whatever the setting, we circle up, grab a plate of food, and talk.
The same theory applies at home. Certainly we can still talk while sitting together on the couch, but there is something comfortable about looking across the table at someone, asking about their day between forkfuls. Right now, of course, there is nothing of the idyllic dining room scene that I envision. At our current table, dinner is a forty-five-minute affair with a toddler who likes to watch food swim in his milk and a preschooler who does not actually eat, but rather, chews her cud.
But someday, when Chef Matt is home for dinner more often, and the kids are a little bigger, I hope that we will gather around our worn dining room table and catch up over a hot dish. Even when they are teenagers and do not want to look at me, much less talk to me, at least I can look around that table and see all my favorite people, assuring them that this will make them well-adjusted and someday they will thank me for it.
And since it is likely long overdue ... thanks, Mom and Dad.