Family dinner: A minute-by-minute account

Take a deep breath, cover up your good clothes and join us for a typical family dinner with a toddler and a kindergartener.

June comments on dinner. Photo: Tammy Sutherland June comments on dinner. Photo: Tammy Sutherland

Family dinners are an important part of the happy household landscape in my mind, so we sit down to enjoy a meal together as often as possible. Well, maybe the word “enjoy” is too strong. We eat a meal together as often as possible. OK, maybe “eat” is also overselling it. How about this—sometimes we consume edible products near each other.

I have two daughters. Violet is three and June is 21 months. This is my blow-by-blow account of a typical dinner with my husband, James, and them.

5:00: Get everyone to the table. It's early, but animal hour is upon us. 5:01: Violet declares the dinner yucky, despite the fact that no food has come near her mouth. 5:02: Violet says she has to pee. She refuses any help and goes upstairs. 5:03: June shovels fistfuls of food into her mouth. After every third fistful, she stops to chew a few times. 5:04: Violet returns to the table and knocks over her milk. 5:05: Jamie asks if I would like a glass of wine. I say, “Yes!” 5:06: Violet takes a bite of food and then whines that she's thirsty and has nothing to drink. 5:07: June dumps all of her food on to her high chair tray. 5:08: Violet drops her fork. 5:09: We take away June's tray and give her a bowl with just two bites of food in it. 5:10: June dumps bowl of food over her head. 5:11: Violet slips under the table and repeatedly hits my foot while asking, "Whose foot am I hitting?" 5:12: Jamie attempts to feed June a bite of food. A power struggle over the spoon ends with food being flung to the farthest corner of the room. 5:13: Violet rejoins us at the table and explains she's mad because her food is not in sandwich form. 5:14: Jamie makes Violet a sandwich of her dinner. 5:15: Violet is still mad. The sandwich is not big enough. 5:16: June is screaming for food, so we give her back her plate. 5:17: June drops her spoon. 5:18: Violet has to poop; runs upstairs. 5:19: June shakes the water from her sippy cup out all over her food. 5:20: Violet returns. I help her wash her hands, because I didn't hear the sink upstairs. 5:21: I beg Violet to eat a little more. 5:22: Jamie sings our elaborate "hand and face wipe" song (based on Handel’s Hallelujah chorus) while trying to pick dinner out of June's hair. 5:23: I continue to beg Violet to eat a few more bites. 5:24: June and Violet start making funny faces. I grab the camera.
 Dinner is mercifully done.

(Oh, and somewhere in there, we eat our food, drink our wine and pray for bedtime!)

Acting managing editor, Tammy Sutherland, does her best to juggle family and work. Sometimes she gets it right. (But mostly she just gets by.) Read about life in a family of four where Daddy is seriously outnumbered. (Even the cat is a girl.) Follow her on Twitter @TSutherland75.

This article was originally published on May 13, 2015

Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with your baby's development, get the latest parenting content and receive special offers from our partners

I understand that I may withdraw my consent at any time.