I was touched when our 7 year-old-granddaughter told me during a short talk last week, “I can’t wait to come and eat at your big table”. She knew this would not occur until the threat of COVID-19 passed.
We were having a social-distancing visit with our family who stood on the walkway as they brought baskets of groceries and supplies for us. My husband and I stood on the landing at the front door. Everyone was longing to hug each other, sit together, and interact as we normally might do.
The conversation revolved around what we missed about family visits and what each of us would do to if we could have a ‘real’ visit.
Our 2-year-old grandson kept saying that he wanted to come inside so he could dance while his grandfather entertained him with favourite vinyl records. His requests indicated how he loved — and missed — those dance sessions.
Our son and daughter-in-law missed the afternoons when I picked up our granddaughter from school for our weekly ‘date’. This gave them a break. They laughed as they thanked us for all the times we minded the children when they wanted/needed time away.
My husband missed the easy family banter and the laughter we shared after our weekly family dinners.
Eating at the Big Table
As we talked, I asked my granddaughter what she missed about eating at the big table. She told me that meals in the dining room were ‘more special’.
She liked having her drink (usually flavoured San Pellegrino) poured into a wine glass and she reminded me that she never spilled on the table cloth nor broke the glass.
She said that it was easy to remember her table manners and to remember to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ when she was having a ‘real’ dinner like a grown-up.
This last comment made me think of Emily Post and her advice on table manners. https://emilypost.com/advice/top-table-manners-for-kids/
I don’t remember teaching any of these habits to our granddaughter. Obviously, parental instruction and observation of others while eating at the dining table had the desired effect. She incorporated the basics.
My granddaughter’s comments left me feeling gratified, pleased and amazed. The observation about eating at the big table was so different from her usual COVID concerns of feeling bored at home, missing her friends, and wanting to return to school.
These heartfelt comments reinforced what I already knew about how keenly children observe and mimic what happens around them.
Children watch the actions of adults. Our modelling teaches children how to think, feel and behave. They listen; they observe; they remember. What a good reminder of how children learn from our interactions and, our eating habits.
I promised my granddaughter that as soon as the Emergency order in Ontario allows families to gather, we would have our family dinner and eat at the big table. It may seem a small thing, but, it’s something important to her. Now, it has new importance for me as well.
Thanks to everyone for reading my post. My wish for every reader is that soon we can ‘eat at the big table’, and do whatever we enjoy with our families once again.