You know that I often write about my kids. The reason I do so much is because they have become a constant source of inspiration for me to the many wonderful lessons of life that we miss if we only pay attention to the grown ups!
I was having the dinner the other night with my family on Main Street in the quaint little city of Seal Beach, California. We like quaint, we like beaches, and we like California…so it worked for us!
Anyway, the kids were served their fabulous meals in cardboard cars that were doubling as platters. My son, who typically deviates from the “kid’s menu” now that he is a bit older and well…hungrier…stuck with it on this night, and was rewarded with the aforementioned paper vehicle.
It was cool because even as they were eating their dinner they were still in that wonderful imaginative mode that they only momentarily come out of to take a bite or ask for a drink refill.
Even dinner is a fun filled adventure when you’re a kid! (I want to go back!)
Okay, not really, I like my adult life, but mostly because it allows me to enjoy the children so much. Isn’t that ironic?
So, we’re sitting there enjoying the ocean breeze and the big, sloppy burgers, when I thought of a blog I had read recently about the psychology of kids. It talked about how sometimes even trying to sit down and take part in a regular dinner is so foreign to their mindsets, they almost can’t do it. And it also said that if we were aware of this as parents, it could actually make us better ones. Even though the cultural norm is to establish a fairly regimented “dinner time” and even though that has traditionally been where a lot of families do their most valuable communicating…that might not be the best model.
Kids can eat and drink for sure, but the interruption of their creative little life adventure with something as mundane as sitting up straight and finishing off everything on their plate might not be best for them in the long haul. It can really start to stunt the development of their imaginative juices a lot earlier than “normal”. You know they’ll eventually be treated to a healthy dose of limitation type thinking from their friends, movies, TV, and the news media before they are of age...
So, we’ve started putting a little different strategy into play for our dinners. It’s pretty much the same for breakfast and lunch, too. For us, having the kids take an occasional bite and do something else like play with the little cars filled with food is pretty fun. And, honestly, if the best conversations you’re having with your family are at dinner time, you really need to rethink and restructure your communication strategy!
And in case you’re wondering, no, we don’t make a habit of eating greasy burgers with the kids…but once in a while, it sure is fun!
Spontaneity rules if you’ve got kids. Even an early evening on Main Street can be a shin dig if you’ll just explore the possibilities.