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Life lessons from a 4-year-old: Family Love Dinner

standard April 22, 2010 9 responses

“Mommy? Are we doing anything fun tonight?”

We were in the car, battling traffic, and I knew she was really asking me if we were going to McDonald’s or not.

And we weren’t. Which meant that I was about to have a major tantrum on my hands.

“Nope! No fun tonight. No fun at all. This is No Fun Tuesday!”

My quick ploy seemed to work. C cracked a smile. I repeated myself and called her out on her smile. It grew. A giggle escaped. I admonished the laugh and the one after that. Soon enough both girls were laughing hysterically. Crisis was averted.

As their laughter died down C grew serious again. I glanced at her in the rear view mirror, she was looking down at her hand and her mouth was moving. I turned down the radio and asked her to repeat what she said. She looked up and spoke up.

“You know mommy, it’s a fun night when we all have dinner together. That’s all.”

I instantly felt terrible that I had assumed that fun could only be had at McDonald’s and then I felt doubly bad that M was at home at that very moment preparing a dinner for us that wouldn’t be ready until after the kids were in bed.

We have dinner with the kids a few times a week, when we can get our acts together and everyone’s meal on the table by 6:30. Some nights we just can’t manage it and I hadn’t noticed how much the kids craved our family dinners.

I made a snap decision and called home to ask M if he’d be willing to change our plans.

“Guess what!” I called back to the kids after hanging up. “We’re going to have family dinner! Family fun dinner!”

The girls cheered and clapped. Then C looked up at me and smiled brightly, eyes shinning.

“Babe. I’m sorry. I thought that fun meant that you wanted to go to McDonald’s.”

“Well, that’s a different kind of fun.” My wise daughter explained. “When we have dinner all together it’s not just family fun dinner. It’s family love dinner.”

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9 responses

  • I love this. I would have thought the exact same thing if my 5-year-old daughter had asked me that, and probably would have responded the same way. Great ending. Kids are vending machines for little nuggets of wisdom. I will have to plan a “Family Love Dinner” soon. Thanks for sharing!

  • In the last year, we’ve had to cut family dinners from our regular routine. Hubs works too late to keep our kids waiting. So it makes sense, but it feels like we’ve lost something so vital to our family. I hope, once the kids are older, we’ll be able to resume them again.

    Great post… as usual!

  • That’s freaking adorable.

  • Nice stuff. I know our family dinners are great and holding well. I hope the family stays better. I don’t want to end up like the folks at http://www.mcserved.com
    lol that would be sad

  • Word.

    I do love to hear truth spoken.

  • That is a great post! I am a HUGE FAN of sit down family dinner time. It’s the only meal I make sure I am sitting with my kids for. I don’t always make breakfast or lunch sitting with them but dinner … it’s a must for me. AND the funny thing is I didn’t have it like that growing up, it was always Sunday night family dinners … well when my mom & Dad were together and then it was just a thing my Dad did when him & mom divorced. My children know that when dinner time is here we all sit and chat about your days. Its easier though as I am alone with them and sometimes my family or friends are over, but being single makes it even easier to schedule that type of meal. Versus when you have two adults trying to get their schedules straight for such a time, I say that you make it more often, as often as you possibly can .. it truly is family love dinner!! Soo cute and thank you for writing this!


  • Awww… that’s so sweet. Our kids are the same way. They are always asking to have Family Night but my husband works overnight so by the time he gets up to go to work, they are in bed. His only off days are during the week when they can’t stay up late. It’s tough to work around such “non traditional” schedules, but I think in a certain sense, not being able to do it every night makes the nights when we do all eat together SO special 🙂 Your daughters sound like such sweet, charming little girls!

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