"Eat. Come on. Two more bites. If you don't eat, you don't get dessert. I am so sick of us wasting food. Do you realize some kids are STARVING right now??? If you aren't going to eat, just go to your room. COME ON GUYS, IT'S JUST FOOD. EAT!!!!!"
This is how the conversation at our dinner table has sounded for years. It is safe to say that we've done a terrible job training our kids to be good eaters. We've let them snack too close to dinner, fed them too many alternatives when they whined about not liking the dinner, not stayed consistent on getting them to try things, etc. etc. Truth be told, we've failed the dinner table in a million ways, but we are working on redeeming ourselves. Often times, we have the wisdom about what to do and not do, but we let our emotions and feelings get the best of us! To be really honest, sometimes we're just too tired or too lazy to fight one more fight today!
"Just eat a darn cheese stick and get outta here!"
I don't know where this idea originated, if you do, please share, but there is the idea of the high/low game at dinner. It's not really a "game" more of a conversation starter. You really could do it any time of the day, but dinner works for us. We go around the table and tell our high point of the day and our low point of the day. If we have a guest or two at our table, which is normal for us, they can play along too.
It's no surprise that I'm a chatty-Cathy, but believe it or not, my girls and Mike are not. In fact, Lukey and I probably use ten times as many words as the other family members combined. When they get home and I ask about their day, I often get, "Good" or "fine" or "okay" but not a lot of details, not even from Lukey.
If my goal is to "love them well," I want to know them well.
I love high/low because if forces us to reflect on our day. They have to think back through the events and pick high and low spots, and then share them. I love hearing their "highs" or what makes them happy. It is a good way to learn their "love languages" and helps me know how to love each kid better. It also sparks a lot of memories about events at school that they'd otherwise forget to share and I get to hear a little more about their days.
One night last week Lilly had a friend over and her high was that she was one of three kids in her grade who made a 100% on the math test. I love that we had a chance to celebrate her hard work and build her up for a job well done. It's always fun to get to learn more about our guests.
What is equally, if not more important are the "lows." I want them to see that it is normal for all of us to have lows every single day. Sometimes Lukey will claim that he can't think of ANYTHING, and that's okay too. I totally buy into the philosophy that when we share our struggles, they lose power over us, so I want them to get used to getting their "junk" off of their chest. Not all junk comes out at the table, and that's okay too! I do want them to see that we all have struggles. I like talking through the struggles and seeing what solutions they came up with or talking about what they could do different the next time. I love that this helps spark their memories too.
A lot of GRATITUDE comes out of highs and lows. "My high today was when you took me to Walk-Mart for Valentines." It is a great time to say "Thank You" to someone that you may have forgotten to thank.
Reliving our high moments is a great thing. Being able to share and discuss is so good. It's fun when they all start asking each other about their highs and lows or when we share the same highs and lows.
What we are NOT good at is taking turns talking. WOAH!
We have a long way to go, but we have an awareness of the problem and we are working on "one at a time talking" and really being a good listener.
So what does this have to do with all the growling and grumping and fussing over food from the first paragraph??? Somehow when we took our focus off of what everyone was and was not eating, people started eating! (Some meals, but certainly NOT all!) We keep noticing that they are eating more and more food. Less wasting. The meals are (usually) much more enjoyable. They are trying new things. We are far from a success story, but I feel like we're making steps in the right direction and adding little more Joy to our chaos!