For the past few weeks, we've been eating dinner by candlelight. The kids have been much calmer at dinnertime. Previously, we couldn't keep them in their chairs or their food on their plates or the noise level below a dull roar.
They come to expect it now. They ask to light the candles. We have quieter conversations. I don't have to see just how messy my 2 year old is. At least two of the kids actually ask to be excused from the table and even take their plates to the kitchen.
This week, I put out the advent candles. They are situated in a lovely ceramic nativity scene. So for the past three nights, I've lit the first candle as dinner begins. Then comes the begging to light the other three candles in the Advent wreath.
This evening, I served dinner in bowls. Apparently it was the last straw for Owen, who did not have the benefit of a nap to temper his irrationality.
He wanted a plate. So I obliged, mostly to just stop the tears. I brought back three small plates to save myself a trip because, as any seasoned mom knows, if you bring one kid a plate, you darn well better bring all three of them a plate.
Owen and Fiona begin transferring their food. Crisis averted. For now.
I then spent the next 10 minutes fielding questions from my 6 year old about why he was given a plate. He suddenly seemed confused by this strange object next to his bowl.
And then Fiona, who is eating dinner in her underwear, is suddenly on the verge of tears.
"I didn't want to eat on a plate," she wails.
So, um, is that why you took the trouble to put the food on the plate, dear? That's probably what I should have said to her. Instead, I poured her food onto the table and told her to eat it off the table.
Then I dared anyone else to complain about anything. Ever. Well, at least until after dinner.