Groundhog dinner

The setting: Our kitchen table.

The time: Any given night around 6:15 or so.

The preset: Food on table, I open my mouth and yell “DINNER!” because I’m classy and stuff.

And… begin scene.

“Where is Monkey?”
“Didn’t he hear me call dinner?”
“Yeah, that’s why he went to the bathroom.”
“Do you think that he’ll ever go BEFORE I call dinner?”
“Do you really want me to answer that?”
“No, nevermind.”
“Whose book is this?”
“It’s mine.”
“Why is it here?”
“Because I didn’t take it upstairs yet. BECAUSE I CAME WHEN YOU CALLED DINNER. LIKE A GOOD CHILD.”
“Uh huh. Please take it up after dinner.”

“Monkey! Thanks for joining us.”
“I just had to—”
“We know. Please sit down.”
“Please don’t rock back on your chair.”
“Can I go get some water?”
“After grace. Whose turn it is?”
“Okay, go.”
“Dear God, thank you for my family and my friends and this food and that doggie there on the floor and also [insert random object here]. … What? I LIKE [insert random object here]! Amen.”
“Amen. Please put your napkin in your lap.”
“Can I get some water?”
“Did you drink all of your milk already?”
“Yes. Can I?”
“I don’t know, can you?”
“MAY I?”
“Hahaha. Yes, you may.”
“Please pass the salad. And what are THOSE?”
“I can put some on your plate for you. Those are [insert totally ordinary food here]. You LIKE [insert totally ordinary food here].”
“Oh. Yeah. Okay.”
“Do I have to eat [insert other totally ordinary food here]?”
“No. I’m just messing with you.”
“Oh my God. Just eat whatever you’d like, please. If you do it quietly that’d be awesome.”

“How was your day, dear?”
“It was okay. Busy. Yours?”
“Okay, but busy.”
“There’s a lot of that going around.”
“This is good.”
“Yeah, it turned out okay.”
“Hey, want to hear about something funny Joe did at school today?”

[Phone rings.]

“You can call Daddy back after dinner. What did Joe do?”
“Oh. Well, the teacher asked for [insert completely ordinary request here] and instead Joe [insert random boogie, joke, or other minor misbehavior here]. HA!”
“Did he get in trouble?”
“He got detention.”
“That’s unfortunate. I mean, you think they’d give him points for being funny, at least.”
“I KNOW! It’s so unfair.”
“Please don’t rock back in your chair.”
“Please chew with your mouth closed.”
“I AM!”
“No, you’re not. But I wish you would.”
“Okay, okay.”

[Dog flops around on the floor in an entertaining way, hoping against hope that someone will take pity on her and toss her some food.]

“Can I just give her a little of mine?”
“Why not?”
“Because if you feed her from the table she’ll pester us during meals. You can save a piece to give her when you’re done.”
“I’m done.”
“I’m full.”
“You didn’t eat any [insert nutritious item here].”
“But I said I’m FULL.”
“Okay, you can just sit with us until we’re done.”
“But can I give this to Licorice?”
“Sure, go put it in her dish.”
“I’m full, too.”
“You’ve had a cup of milk and three cups of water. I’m not sure that constitutes dinner.”
“We had a bunch of snacks at [insert after school activity here].”
“Of course you did.”
“I’ll take the rest for lunch tomorrow. Okay?”
“Yes, fine.”
“May I be excused?”
“Really, there’s no excuse for you.”
“That one just never gets old, does it?”
“Really no.”

Anyone who tells you that the family dinner is a sacred ritual either has a sense of humor or hasn’t had dinner at our house.


  1. Lylah

    Funny, dinner at my house is much like this, most nights!

  2. Leandra

    Oh lord. I keep hoping it gets better as they get older but you’ve just dashed my hopes. So, thanks for that! :)

    Last night I actually had the foresight to tell Punkin to use the bathroom about five minutes before dinner was actually ready. And it worked! She was on time to the table! But let’s just see if I can remember to do it every night. Highly unlikely.

  3. Megan

    Yup, dinner around a table, an important part of family bonding AND endless source of fodder for future therapy sessions.

    Just wait though, just wait until Monkey hits oh, say 14 and then it will be more like.

    Can I eat this? What about this? Is there any more of that? What about over there? You gonna finish that? My plate’s clear can I have [insert sugary item/fruit/chips/crackers -all of the foregoing]. Hey, know what I had for lunch? And then, know how many sandwiches I made when I came home? Guess how much [food item] I can fit in my mouth – go on, guess! NO! So much more! Wanna see? Why not? Hey, can I have some more…

    It’s okay though, it stops when he goes to sleep. Mostly.

  4. steff

    sounds like my house, except we have random tooting from the 7 yr old accompanied by loud snoring dog who falls asleep patiently waiting to enter the dining area to collect crumbs when we are finished eating.

  5. elz

    Here I was hoping that dinner got easier as the kids became more mature! Ha. My kids are 3 and 5, our dinner routine goes something like this: Please put your bottom on the seat…Feet under the table…Yes, you may have more milk…Now you want more milk…Please put your bottom on the seat…Use your utensils. Utensils are what you eat with…etc. and SIGH. We also had to institute a “No Singing Until You Finish Dinner” rule, followed quickly by a “No Humming Until You Finsih Diner” rule.

  6. Character Builder

    At our house, it’s my husband who suddenly has to use the bathroom just as dinner is ready.

    I had to laugh at elz, because our Mom used to tell my sister and me that if we sang at the table, we’d marry someone weird. I don’t know where she got that, but I’ve passed it on to my kids.

  7. Scottsdale Girl

    I guess eating dinner alone isn’t SO bad… Heh.

  8. Kat

    What? No singing at the table? Not even “food, glorious food” from Oliver?
    I hope my family never hears about this rule or I’m toast!

  9. Mir

    We also have a “no singing at the table” rule which only needs occasional reinforcement by now. Of course, some wisenheimer always ends up just standing up (“I’m not AT the table!”) to finish singing….

  10. RuthWells

    Oh, our dinner time rules are legion. The current list includes:

    no Bionicles
    no Dungeons and Dragons
    no Garfield
    no cartoon sound effects

    et cetera and so forth.

  11. Momsy

    I grew up with the charming, “Sing at the table, sing in bed, the devil will get you when you’re dead.”

  12. Heather

    Hahahaha. I think I want to come to dinner at your house ;)

  13. Nicki

    huh. Now I really do feel like I’m raising some heathens. I wish our meals were that polite/organized/interactive. Never mind…we interact plenty. ;)

  14. Pam

    In our house, it’s the husband who disappears at the Dinner! call, EVERY TIME, out to the garage to the beer fridge. So if he hasn’t learned to anticipate, there’s no chance for Monkey. Sorry.

    And, anyway, once he and Chickadee reach their teens it’s going to be an event if the four of you ever sit down together – believe me.

  15. Diahn Ott

    :) my 10 year old boy always heads to the bathroom right when I call for dinner…just like his father…and his grandfather before him.

    It’s some strange family genetic ritual that I just don’t get.

    Your dinner sounds very much like ours…replete with sarcasm and ridicule. I love that.

  16. Anna

    We also have a no singing at the table rule. Exceptions for an occasional grace-song. I admit, I usually call for a grace song (such as Johnny Appleseed) when I know there’s no way in heck they’re going to settle down for a traditional prayer.


  17. Em

    My son also has the dinnertime bathroom ritual. That really should be looked into. It seems to be a pattern (at least among your readers… how did you do that?).

    Our dinners are similar, if less civil. We also usually can count on at least one spilled drink, multiple dropped utensils and the whole thing to last under 10 minutes (which seems so disproportionate to the time it took to prepare it).

  18. Sarah H.

    That sounds much like ours, except my kids are 4, so less polite, and substitute baby for dog.

  19. MamaChristy

    “I don’t know, can you?”

    I HATED that when I was a kid. I was just trying to be polite. ;)

  20. Holly

    At least you all sit down for dinner! Even though the conversations may seem the same, creating time and space for family is important – good job!

  21. annette

    Yes. x6.

  22. Brigitte

    . . . because of course Licorice is currently NOT pestering you during your meals. ;-)

  23. Damsel

    Love, love, love this. It’s hilarious and poignant! Our family always had family dinners, even through our teens, and they were REQUIRED. At times, it put a total crimp in my social calendar, but, looking back, I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

    Way to go, Mir!

  24. Molly

    Were you at my house last night? Because I feel like a broken record and we say and do all of the same things. perfect!

  25. Dawn

    I can’t tell if I’ve read this post before or if it’s just so accurate a description of family meals that it just seems that way.

  26. Katie in MA

    That brings back such happy memories of home. :) Sigh…who knew that family dinners were the thing you’d miss most when you grew up and moved out?

  27. Tracy

    I love the grace part. lol And yay!! for Licorice not pestering you at the dinner table. I can’t stand dogs that beg. =)
    Oh and can I be excused?

  28. Kelly

    Add a few for me: No quoting entire movies at the dinner table. No see food. No kicking anyone under the table.

    Why do they all keep trying to talk louder over each other? (The take turns talking thing seems to have skipped all three of mine…)

    And how does the ex always know when we’ve just taken our seats for dinner? BAT SIGNAL, indeed!

    Too funny and true!

  29. Mary Menkedick Ionno

    This blog swept me away to 8 years from now. I have a four and two year old and eating dinner with them is a whole different chaos consisting of my repetitive barking at the two year old who inevitably finds a way to sling his food across the room and stand on his chair and pull down his pants in front of his sister (who just eggs it all on!). You have allowed me to see that the chaos continues but just in a different fashion! Thanks!

  30. mom, again, again

    unfortunately, it’s my husband who thinks ‘dinner’s ready’ means ‘go to the bathroom’. At least we finally got middle class enough to get a house with MORE THAN ONE bathroom, so everyone else can carry on.

    He also thinks, ‘OK, everyone’s ready, let’s go out the door!” means ‘go to the bathroom’. There were times when I’d only tell the kids to go after noting his recent exit from bathroom, thinking that then we’d all be ready to go out the door. But no. He must return to the bathroom prior to leaving the house. It’s like he has to be last or something.


    Once on an extended visit, my mother noticed this behaviour and laughed til she cried. Her dad had these habits.

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