Friday, March 25, 2011

One simple little rule...

As we all sat around the dinner table I had a fleeting thought, this is a mess.  We were talking over each other, no one using a fork or napkin, Gracie throwing stuff off the side of her tray and screaming, all the while trying to writhe out of her chair.

I found myself wanting a soft mallet. 

So I've decided to reign them in a bit and set up a new rule for the dinner table.  One new thing.  That is it.  That's all I can handle.

So here it is.  I ask the kids to share a little bit about their day.  I'm doing this in the hopes of improving Alex's communication skills as he can't get through one question without completely loosing interest. 

So this is how it went last night...

Me: Hey guys, quiet. Guys, I'm talking....guys....QUIET.
Gracie: Screaming.
Lizzy: I want salt. 
Alex: No, I am most certainly not going to eat that.  

Me: OK now that everyone's listening, we're going to do a new thing at dinner.  We're going to tell each other one thing about our day. 

Two hummphs, one bang.  This is going swimmingly. 

Me: I will start off to show you how it's done.  Well, I got up and had a cup of coffee, made breakfast...
Alex: Mom, mom.  Did you pee?  Did you brush your teeth?  You're out of order, mom.  We get up and first we pee, then we get dressed, then we brush our teeth and then we eat.  You went out of order.      


Me: OK, you're right, I did go out of order.  That's not the point, we're just talking about our day and what we did. 

Alex: But you did go out of order, mom.  That's not how we do it.  Next!  As he says 'Next' he has this little flourish with his wrist like he's totally done with this exercise and has utterly moved on. 

Oh Lord, what was I thinking.... 

Me: OK.  So I got up, peed, got dressed, brushed my teeth, and had breakfast.  I....
Alex breaking in: Mom, mom, did you forget the coffee part?  You forgot the coffee part. 

Me: OK, who's next?  I'm out.

For the first time there was utter silence at the table.

Me: Alex, tell me about your day. 
Alex: No.
Me: Alex, you know how this works.  Please tell us about your day.  What did you have for breakfast?
Alex: I had oatmeal.  That is all. 
Me: That's all you had for breakfast, just oatmeal?
Alex: No, that is all. I am done talking.  Next!  Flicks his wrist.
Me: No, it is not next.  Did you ride a bus for your field trip?
Alex: Yes.
Me: You did, that's great!  Who did you sit next to?
Alex: Mrs Brush. Next!  Flicks his wrist.
Me: That must have been fun.  Did you like the play?
Alex: No.  Next!  Flicks his wrist.
Me: You didn't?  Hum. It was supposed to be Goldilocks and the Three Bears, was it?
Alex: Yes.  But it was not the same as what you told me.  I'm done.  Next!  Flicks his wrist.
Me: Hummmm.
Alex: I told Mrs Brush it was not the same and I was not happy about that. Next!  Flicks his wrist.
Me: OK, how was it not the same?  Can you help me understand?
Alex: No.  It was just different.  Next!  Flicks his wrist.
Me: OK sweetie, thanks for sharing with us.  Lizzy, you're up!
Lizzy: No.
Me: Lizzie, come on....
Lizzy: NO. Next!  Flicks her wrist.

They all break out in peals of laughter. 

Swimmingly, just swimmingly...


  1. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! I love the wrist flick the "I'm done" and "No"...It did go swimmingly! hee..really made me laugh..

  2. My child refuses to tell me anything about his days at school as well.

    The wrist flicking thing sounds quite like the sign for 'all done'. Which I see a lot of from my Deaf kid.

    As well as flicking boogers.

  3. Oh, boy, this sounds soooooo familiar. My son and yours sound like two peas in a pod. I could actually imagine my son, Danny doing the whole "NEXT" thing with the wrist flicking, though Danny would have probably gotten really crabby and frustrated (we're having some anger issues lately.)

    I love that you tried to make a change with your family--I try to do this all the time and usually end up with a similar response. Sigh.

    Loved this post!

  4. Must be the new norm to not talk about school.

  5. Haha! Lizzie! Wow, Lizbeth, I actually think you'd make a great lawyer. You got a lot of information out of Alex even though he didn't want to give it up!! Love the flourish!

  6. I enjoyed reading this post! Thank you, for making me smile and feel better about our family conversations (or lack thereof). It's reasons like this that I enjoy blogging...the connection I feel with other people in the world experiencing similar situations.

  7. Hahaha!! Loved it! Ah kids...where would we be without them?!

    I tagged you over at mine.... you might like it. No worries if you don't.

    xx Jazzy

  8. A soft mallet? Your'e a better mum than me.

  9. You had me laughing and totally with you in the first paragraph - the screaming and writhing. So dang familiar. And then you had me laughing the rest of the way through. Good for you for trying to reign them in to an actual conversation. I am so not there yet :)

    Thanks for your kind words on my blog on Friday!!

  10. Thanks guys, I'm trying but I seriously think he has me beat.

    @tulpen--you know, now that you mention it, it IS exactly like the sign for 'all done.' That little shit has been flipping me off in two languages. I'm not sure if I should be pissed or impressed.

    I don't know about anyone else, but I find out MORE if I call another parent and talk to them about his day. He just won't talk about anything once it's done. Sigh.

  11. This was really, really funny. I look forward to more. New follower. Yeah! But this could be a movie.


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