This post was written by Sarah Fernandez. Photo Credit: Blend Images/Ariel Skelley/Getty Images
Last week I was complaining because in a mere five days of kindergarten my son had gone from telling me he didn't remember what he'd done all day to asking me to please just stop asking him about his day. I, of course, have not stopped asking him, and each afternoon he rolls his eyes at me and tells me that he went to recess, had lunch, and then got in line to take the bus home. While that's something, it's not exactly what I was looking for. But last night we tried something different than our normal routine but incredibly simple, and much to my surprise and without much prodding, he started spilling stories going all the way back--a whole two weeks--to the first day of school.
What was that simple thing? We merely sat down as a family and ate dinner together at the dining room table. I've read all the stories about how important it is to eat dinner as a family, and honestly, I always thought that I would insist on it all of the time. But somehow life gets in the way, and it's easy to feed the kids before their dad gets home on a lot of nights. For some reason I seemed to think that it was important, but not as important at the mere age of five as at the age of fifteen.
Last week I decided to start making more of an effort to feed us all at the same time. It wasn't so much that I was looking to have us even all sit down together-although, that's nice-but in addition to trying to broaden my children's eating habits beyond chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese, I also realized that my husband and I haven't really been eating a proper dinner very often due to us waiting until after the kids have been in bed, and then we just don't feel like cooking.
I don't even recall the simple question I asked my son after we sat down, but I know it wasn't anything that I hadn't already asked, and before I knew it he was rambling on about how the second graders (he's in a multi-age program) had come into his class yesterday to read with them and how he was starting to read and that he was told that he did a really good job. He followed with a story about how he had gone to another kindergarten class for a group lesson and continued by listing off the nine other kids that were in the same group as him. Mind you, I've been asking him every day what the names of some of his friends are only to hear, "I don't remember." He suddenly remembered all of their names and told me that they had done it on the first day of school.
It became very clear to me very quickly that we will now be a family that sits down and eats together without any distractions on a regular basis. We may not be able to do it every night of the week, but even if we can commit to doing it three nights a week, I know that it will be really good for us. The more we do it, the more used to telling us about his day will become and his sister will start to follow in his footsteps too.