Although from all outward appearances I might seem to be a pretty average mom-type, I must confess to viewing myself as a bit of a rebel. No, I don’t wear spikes or ride a harley, but I do encourage a scandalously lax attitude at the dinner table. I mean, my son does know how to behave in polite company, but when it’s just us, fun is much more important to me.
I mean really, what’s the big deal? When it’s just us at home, what do the rules and stiffness of proper table manners matter? I know that as a kid, I found the need to keep my elbows off the table, cut with my knife, and chew food with my mouth closed all the time a bit boring. As a matter of fact, until I had my son I rarely ate at the dining room table as an adult, simply because I hated being reminded of the unpleasant rules my parents insisted we follow at every meal.
Now, I’m not advocating crazy food fights, or gross habits like eating with your fingers, or smacking your lips loudly. What I’m talking about is more about enjoying some play timewith your kids at the dinner table. Here is a short list of a few of my favorite games that I have played with my son during dinner.
1. Backwards Eating.
In this game, we take turns doing something backwards and announcing it loudly to each other. For example I might say: “I’m eating my broccoli BACKWARDS!” Then proceed to eat the stem before I eat the florets. Then my son might say: “I’m eating my mashed potatoes BACKWARDS!” and scoop a big bite of potatoes onto the back of his spoon. Though this game is very simple, it provides a good deal of laughter and goofy fun.
2. You’ll Never Guess What I’m Eating!
This game can basically consists of each person inventing progressively improbable explanations for what the food is that they are eating. For example, I might say “This might look like a plump red strawberry, but it’s actually the egg of a giant space worm!” Then my son might say “Don’t be confused, this isn’t a piece of toast that I’m eating, it is a really old book about robots!” To be sure, there is an awful lot of potty humor popping up on my son’s plate these days, but from the ages 6-45 boys find that kind of thing inexplicably hilarious. I’ll endure.
3. Super Powered Food.
Now this game can be a lot of fun, especially if you want to burn a few calories while you’re still eating. In this game, after you eat something you display some sort of physical result and blame it on the food. For example, I might eat a slice of beet, and then pop out of my chair and bounce around for a few minutes before taking a swig of water to “wash the effects away”. Once a food has been given an effect, everyone who eats it has to participate by displaying that effect when they eat that food.
These are just a few small examples of some of the fun ways I get to play with my son, and make dinnertime something we look forward to and enjoy. Silliness is one of the most precious things about being a kid, and when I embrace the silliness in my son, I find that my own inner child wakes up and wants to play for a while as well. And that is super mega awesome.