Despite being a strong believer in the family dinner, we don't actually have one all that often.
Weekdays I get home first with the kids, who are hungry and ready for dinner. Most evenings they get some "wholesome organic" version of "kid food"; meatballs, hot dogs or fish fingers with veggies (frozen and microwaved), and mashed potatoes (ditto), or spaghetti hoops. If I have a bit of extra time they get quinoa or cous cous with steamed fresh broccoli. If I'm late and everyone is frantic they get toast and honey and scrambled eggs. I usually have the kids in the bath by the time geekydaddy gets home at 7.00, and they are both in bed by 8.00. We are rather British about bedtime and routine. It is the only way I know how to survive, and although I feel guilty that I'm glad to have them in bed, even though I only spend a few short evening and morning hours with them on weekdays, and guilty that we don't expose our kids to enough adult cuisine, I do relish our quiet dinners for two, catching up on our day over a glass of wine after the kids are in bed.
But on Saturdays we try to have a family dinner. Today I made shrimp tacos. The food was very well received, I love to hear my daugher exclaim how delicious the shrimp (cooked in lime and garlic) are, and to see her heartily devour a self assembled soft taco, beans dripping everywhere. Despite all sitting down at the table at approximately the same time, the occasion still never feels very cohesive. I find that Geekydaddy and I don't actually get to sit and eat our dinners until everyone else is done (I seem to recall my mum bouncing up and down in the same manner to meet our demands all through meals when we were growing up).
This evening, after popping up to prepare a second quesadilla for Geekyboy, who inhaled the first as if he had not received nourishment all day, then chopping extra shrimp up for Geekygirl, retrieving numerous bits of lost cutlery, and rescuing a burning accidentally left on pan, Geekygirl finished her dinner and was excused from the table. We finally sat down to our much anticipated food, when we heard "Mummy, I had an accident". Running to the bathroom I found my little girl standing in an unfeasably large puddle of pee, which had been released within just a few inches of the toilet. Maybe the food was so delicious and the company so riveting that she just forgot that she needed to go. Around this same time Geekyboy had started to protest about being restrained in his high chair so Geekydaddy released him. He of course made a bee line for the pee lake, and just before he started to splash in it in his socks, Geekdaddy swept in and got him.
With both adult humans distracted for a spilt second, the animals, who erroneously believe themselves to be emaciated, deprived street curs, decided it was their turn to get in on the act. Orangegeek, a cat who is so old and creaky he now claws instead of jumps his way onto a lap, can still summon a balletic leap of silent grace when shrimp is involved. Geekydog, who retains enough of her training not to jump onto tables to steal food, seems to believe that touching the table with her tongue doesn't count, and so will sneakily lap the table edge, hoping for morsels, if no one is looking. We turned around from the great pee cleanup and realized our dinners were about to be stolen from us by the animals, so we left the children and the bathroom in various states of uncleanliness and decided to finish our dinners.
It might be a while before we attempt the family dinner again.