"COME TO THE TABLE!"
Are there vegetables?
"WHO CARES?! GET OVER HERE AND LEAVE YOUR WHINE OVER THERE!"
Schoolwork, crafts, and mail are pushed aside to make room for the bowls. Four kids drag themselves to the table, shove food down their faces in record time and flop off their chairs with stuffed mouths to continue the activity that was so rudely disrupted by the untimely meal. Crumbs are left scattered all over the table, chairs, and floor. Well that's a fine kettle of fish I grumble to myself as I either sweep up or dream of sweeping up while I nurse a hungry baby, also spilling food as I try to eat and nurse at the same time. This little fiasco may or may not happen most every day.
As it may be apparent by the entries in this blog, I love food. I love to eat. I love connecting with people over good food. How on earth can I impart this love to my children and continue to serve nourishing dishes? Why have I allowed my kids to be so sloppy, grumpy, and picky? and how can I correct this? Well, French Kids Eat Everything inspired me to try something new that just might help solve this issue. The French dress their table for every meal. Even childrens' tables. I wondered what would happen if I dressed my table, cloth napkins and all? Thus began a new experiment.
As the baby napped, I slipped outside to join the children, scissors in hand.
"What are you doing, mama?"
"I am clipping things to decorate our table with."
They followed and watched.
As much as I enjoy it, flower arrangement isn't a natural talent. I returned inside, filled a mason jar with water and plunged the ends of all the foliage collected. Smoothing out a table runner with my hands, I could feel the French's disapproval of my still-wrinkly runner, but it was almost snack time and I needed to commence this new experiment. The flower-filled mason jar was centered on the table with two little vegetable wax candles on either side. Cloth napkins were set out, spoons placed on top (no, not a complete setting. Spoons were all we needed).
I called the children to table and their eyes lit up.
"Oooh! Are those the flowers you picked? They're so pretty! Look at the table!"
Captivated by the appearance of the table, wrinkly runner and all, they sat down without asking if there was vegetables in a voice that threatens a protest.
"Cloth napkins!" The girls squealed. "How princessy!"
"Boys put napkins in their shirts and girls put 'em on their laps" Our son instructed.
Wow. I didn't realize they already knew such refineries. Now was my chance.
"Let's keep this table looking nice. Eat over your bowls and keep your food and spoons over them, too. I'd like to see how neat you can all eat."
There was a sweetness, a pleasantness that graced the table during snack time. It seemed the dressed-up table evoked kind, quiet conversation. Everyone seemed to want to preserve the beauty of the atmosphere the new table ushered in. Snacks were finished, faces were wiped, and to my utter surprise, there were no crumbs to be found on the table, chairs, or floor. It was a French-inspired miracle!
Now, I don't assume the pretty table has solved every issue and bad habit that rears it's head at mealtime, but it was definitely a start. Besides, it's just plain lovely to sit at a table that's been spruced up a bit. It adds value to the time we spend together as a family and friends when we gather around the table to share a meal. I aspire to continue this new tradition.
I spent the night looking for simple, pleasing table settings I could get inspiration from and started a new board on Pinterest dedicated just to dressing tables. Much to my dismay, tables only seem to be set for weddings and fancy parties. I only found a handful of simple table-dressing ideas, and most were for nice outdoor parties.
This is where the invitation comes in. I think it might be fun to share ideas with each other