This evening at dinner was the first time in a while that I truly felt like I was about to be smothered by noise. Most evenings in our house, dinner time is a relaxed, calm, friendly, polite event where people use their best manners, eat daintily, have a single conversation that interests everyone and then gleefully clean up the kitchen together. Ok, maybe it's not that great...
Usually, Jeff is busy stuffing his mouth with his entire plateful of food and fist at once, James is telling an intense and thoroughly violent story, and Jonathon is saying something like, "Mama, can you please cut this pasta into one inch pieces, because 2 inch pieces just get me way too messy." (That was only slightly exaggerated) Then usually, Brandon and I are having a converasation. But all in all, people are happy and for us that's a calm meal and it goes ok.
TONIGHT, it was rather crazy...
First, we have extra people, so we don't all fit at the table together. I decided that to make extra space I would put Jonathon and James at a little kids table to the side and then the adults would have plenty of room. It's just the right size for them, but I've had to draw a line down the center to keep them from sword fighting with their spoons, and neither of them can scoot their own chair up to the table, so in order to get close enough, they pull the table toward themselves and thereby, pulling it away from the other child. So, tug-o-war with the table insues. Between those things and Jonathon's desire to eat "properly" and James violent tales, that was quite the happening place in the kitchen this evening.
Second, Rachel is now in the picture and considers it a slight to her if she is not included in the family dinner. She stuck around for the social scene, but alas, she wanted the soapbox all to herself and let me know about it for the entire meal. Whaaaa!
Third, we had a salad course and Jeff decided that for this meal, he did not like salad. While he did sit there quietly, he would not eat his carrots (which I know he likes) and kept throwing his cup on the floor and smiling at me plesantly about it.
Fourth, the "extra" people were carrying on a conversation that I was involved in, but as I decided to quit listening to Rachel scream and nurse her instead, I couldn't get up to stop the sword fight, so I had to resort to sending silent messages to the opposite end of the table where Brandon was stationed so he would take care of it. All people in the middle of the table were totally oblivious to issues- but then they aren't the parents, so that's understandable- I'm not upset about that.
Fifth, I was trying to EAT! We were having some wonderful trout, but I needed two hands to get it off the bone, so I was stuck simply staring at it because at the time I had no hands (one holding/ feeding Rachel, the other trying to feed Jeff) Somehow, I did manage to eat a salad and part of a baked potato.
About 2/3 through the meal there was a sword fight going on, tug- of table war, Jonathon wanted a baked potato WITH butter, but WITHOUT sourcream, cut up, but not smashed and without the peel, James wanted fish, but not the salmon fillet he'd been served- the "real" fish with the eyeballs, Rachel was tired of eatting and therefore crying again, Jeff finally dumped his salad bowl out onto the table and began banging the dish with his spoon, my fish got terribly cold, there were two conversations going on at the adult table- neither of which I could concentrate on, James was saying something about going to town, and it was raining outside.
I realized at this point that I was slightly stressed and told Brandon that I was going into the bathroom and sit for 2 minutes regardless of the fact that I didn't really need to use the facilities and that I would be back soon. Ahhh.....Praise the Lord for bathrooms! A place to find solitude and refreshment, calmness and perspective, peace and ...ok, maybe it wasn't that great, but it did give me a long enough break to realize that things were ridiculous out there and I needed God's help to get through the rest of that meal without taking some heads off.
I asked and He answered. Everything didn't all suddenly change when I came out, but Brandon had mercifully taken over feeding Jeff (he mixed the salad with the baked potato and it disappeared into his cavernous mouth in a matter of seconds), took care of the boys fighting with a little stern parenting, and effectively cut the conversation topics at the table in half. I held Rachel and quit trying to eat and things went well.
After dinner, I dumped Rachel onto an innocent bystander and then sat down with a lovely plate of REHEATED trout and potato while the boys played and totally enjoyed my meal.
Whew! I'm glad all meals aren't this crazy, but I hope you all try it at least one like in your lifetime. It's an experience you don't want to miss!