"Read the list!"
That's my daughter, Chloe's, dinner demand each night as we sit down at the table together. Every day during the school year, her preschool teacher sent home a list of activities that the class did together - the books they read, the art projects they created, or the science experiments they conducted. And each night at dinner, Chloe, her dad, and I read through that list together, talking about each activity and other things that happened at school.
I'll admit it: Sometimes my family will park in front of the TV with a box of pizza and settle in for a Brady Bunch marathon over dinner. But most of the time, we try to eat our family dinners at the kitchen table (TV off), and when we do, our talking time gives our eating time a run for its money.
We're certainly not the Kennedys, who famously discussed world news and politics over the family dinner table, preparing their children for the family dynasty. But we do have our favorite topics of conversation, in addition to "the list."
One thing we always talk about was borrowed from Sheryl Sandberg's book Lean In: Describing the best and worst parts of our days. Although I love hearing about the best part of our days (for me, the best part is often dinnertime), hearing about the worst parts is sometimes more illuminating. It was during our dinnertime conversation, for instance, that I learned that a little boy pushed Chloe in school one day or that falling down on the playground really hurt when she was trying to be brave.
We also sometimes play a game we call "would you rather" where we present each other with funny or gross choices: Would you rather chew someone else's gum or drink old milk? Would you rather kiss a frog or kiss a fish? And sometimes we ask each other things like, "What would your superpower be?" or "If you could only take three things to a deserted island what would they be?" We talk about our favorite and least favorite things, like colors, foods, seasons, and animals, and what we would buy if we had zillions of dollars (Chloe's answer: Candy).
No, I'm guessing the Kennedy clan never talked about the pros and cons of fish kisses. But whatever a family talks about at dinnertime, it's sure to bring them closer together. What are your family's favorite dinnertime topics?
About Alexandra Pecci
Alex is a freelance lifestyle writer and sometimes-blogger at http://burningdownmykitchen.blogspot.com/. She loves spending time with her husband and four-year-old daughter, who are always willing to sample her kitchen successes (homemade taco seasoning) and failures (homemade mozzarella). She also loves to write, travel, cook, eat, and laugh loudly with friends.