Two thought provoking articles, published within the last week are worth bringing together for a comment from this blog.
In today’s Age Sarah MacDonald mentions the popular show The Voice in passing reference to the reality that a lot more families now, are probably eating on the couch in front of the TV. The reason that is significant is that The Voice is the focus of the other article by Wendy Squires that appeared in the same paper this weekend past.
So, let’s start with eating together at the table. Last night I presented, at what would be dinner time, nine things I know to be true at a presentation called How to Stay in Touch on the Adolescent Roller Coaster. I have always wanted to say “eat at the table together” in my presentations… but really, in practice, if your house is like mine, it is pretty difficult to achieve that on even one night of the week. MacDonald’s article is liberating because I acutely feel that guilty should of eating at the table as a family more often than we do. The article is also confronting because she pulls no punches in asserting that “the family dinner is an archaic ritual that’s almost dead and buried”. I’m not sure I want that to be true (and, in fact she says that too later in her discussion). The reality is that most weeks we just don’t make it to the dinner table… Lisa and Amber have their fitness classes, I could be off doing a Time & Space program and the young bloke has soccer training on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This Friday night, Lisa gets her weekly night of curling up on the couch with a book, as the remainder of our mob, traipse to the MCG to (hopefully) see the Bombers fix up Carlton.
When I got home from the presentation last night, there was no tea left (in an earlier version of this post I overlooked mentioning that Lisa sorted out a quick home made pizza! Oversight now corrected!) The young fella, who had gone to bed, had scoffed the last of the cannelloni. Lisa had been hoping there would be some left for her lunch at work today, let alone my dinner. My daughter’s boyfriend was over. They were watching Game of Thrones (no spoilers – promise). I asked how everyone’s night had been and what they had been up to.
Lisa explained that everyone was in the lounge room at the same time when The Voice was on. Whilst I wasn’t there for last night’s episode, I could immediately picture the other four and what they probably were doing. We all talk over each other. We all shhhhooosh each other. We take on our roles, our commentating perspective. The young bloke likes to sit on the couch and kind of bag it… the over-the-topness of Seal. We laugh at how how Ricky keeps saying, consolingly, to every departing contestant that “you already have a career” – surely Ricky, the music industry is going to be pretty crowded if all of them make it! The Voice equals fun times for us as a family.
At a deeper level, Wendy Squires makes an excellent observation about The Voice as representative of another modern evolution… we are seeing more and more fellas, expressing their feelings. Gender studies have a name for this – expanded masculinity. What defined a boy or a man is definitely far less narrow than back in the day.
A final take is that my colleague Michael Grose talks about ‘down-time’ or ‘mooch-time’. This is that slouching on the couch time. I reckon it pretty vital for families who are on the go at 21st Century pace.
Whilst we mightn’t get to a shared meal at an actual table as often as we feel we should, there is value in making sure that we get enough along-side, hanging out time with each other where nothing much is happening.
So have a read. These are thought provoking commentaries. Are you shocked that I have outed my mob as having dinner table deficit disorder? Do you have TV time where the heckling drowns out what is beaming in to your living room? What are the things that truly help your tribe to stay connected? What do you think about what Sarah MacDonald and Wendy Squires have to say?
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Here is the Sarah MacDonald family dinner article.