Magic happens at my dining table. The simple act of sharing a meal with my family just brings life to another level. For me, it’s more than just having food. It’s the perfect stage where the art of sharing reveals in all of us at home. It is at the dining table where we share physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Most of all, its where our conversations happen.
In our home, my family has the dining table as one of the tech-free zones. We do not engage with any form of technology here, and this has had a tremendous effect on how we interact with each other. We get the time to have real and meaningful conversations and this is where the magic starts.
I remember a question my 8-year-old son asked us. “ How many people have you made sad this week? “ For a moment, the world stopped! My husband and I gave each other THE look ( you know, that look in the rare moments where couples do a telepathic conversation? Go figure..) as we fumbled to find a response to an otherwise innocent and provocative question.
I told him,
“Ryan, I put a major boundary this week on someone who took advantage of me and it has cost me anguish – there are at least 4 people who are angry with me.”
He looked at me and said,
” Mum, you have to protect your heart and boundaries are important. You say that to us that all the time.”
As you may have noticed in your home, our children listen and they appreciate what tough love is, at least in the long run. It is not easy but they get it.
My daughter then said,
“I sat next to Zoe at lunch and she made me happy. We shared jokes.” ( she is 5 years).
I feel lucky that the art of sharing conversations in my house has grown. We have developed a culture of engaging in deep and real conversations.
We don’t ask the “ normal “ questions – how are you? NOOOOO.
We all endeavor to go deep and connect emotionally. We actually have a label for that. Whenever one of us is feeling dull, sad or annoyed, we say that we want to turn the member feeling blue into feeling yellow. ( Blue is our dull color and yellow is the happy color ) This is why I feel that our dining table is where the magic happens.
To say the least, this culture came through deliberate intent and immense cooperation from all of us. We took the time to learn our individual personalities and love languages.
Additionally, as a mother, I realized that it is one thing to be self-aware and it is another to know how to help the ones around me and teach them how to be involved.
My son demonstrated this so well the other day when his sister ( a sanguine ) threw a hissy fit because “ no one “ at the play area wanted to play with her. He responded to her fit by telling her that, “ Natasha if you want to make friends please become one.” What a profound response, one child to another.
As much as that comment was directed to my daughter, I felt like I needed to hear it more because I have difficult moments when I am NOT in control of situations. My behavior just rubs some people the wrong way.
That is how I learned from my flegmatic son, ( smiles) and he takes that from his dad. He has a calm demeanor, I am the hurricane ( Laughs).
Roses, Thorns, and Buds
Through such avenues, like the dining table, we go to the level of our children and we are not afraid of sharing what we really feel. Once in a while, we do an informal meeting called ( Roses, Thorns, and Buds ). This is a reflective meeting where we sit down and figure out how we are handling situations and people around us.
Roses – What are the good things that have happened in the family that we thank God for? What nice thing did someone do to you that made you happy?
Thorns – ( we brave for a super long list ) we discuss the hurt feelings and uncomfortable incidences
Buds – What can we do differently especially in light of the thorns
On a personal level, this has even helped me understand why my calm husband sometimes keeps quiet when the hurricane in me explodes. It has really helped me in understanding his feelings and point of view.
My children on the other hand… Wow! It just amazes me how they learn to express themselves without causing more damage and find solutions within.
The dining table it is the place where the magic happens. Make the dining table a tech-free zone and let that table be a place where magical conversations happen.