Dinnertime with 4 young boys used to be hectic at best. And at it's worst? Total anarchy! Pete and I would be constantly up and down, getting one thing or another for one of the kids. It seemed for several years there was always a baby crying (I swear the moment we would sit down, the baby of the time would start wailing. Pete is an expert at eating with an infant in his arms). At least one kid would be loudly protesting what we were eating. And don't even get me started on the bickering! We were forever moving seats around to separate one boy from another. Unfortunately Vinny would annoy whoever he was sitting next to, so that only helped marginally. One night, several years ago, there was even food being thrown around. Pete and I looked at each other and laughed, knowing they must have finally realized how outnumbered we were.
And now? Things are different. The boys are all old enough to get whatever it is they need. There are no crying babies. And while Vinny still likes to annoy the others, the arguing isn't as bad most of the time. Dinnertime is the time we can all sit together as a family and talk about our days. And while baseball season limits the number of nights we are all actually home, we make it a point to all sit down together when we are all home.
A couple of months ago Pete came up with a great dinner time activity. We call it rose, thorn, bud. One by one we each talk about the best thing in our day (the rose), something we didn't like (the thorn), and something we are looking forward to (the bud). The rule is you have to have a rose and bud, because there is always something good, even in a bad day, and there is always something to look forward to. You do not have to have a thorn though, because it may have been a great day all around.
I love hearing what the kids have to say, and what stands out in their day as a great thing, or not a great thing. Some of their comments can be great starting points for fun family discussions. For example, Zach may mention an interesting social studies class as his rose (Vinny and Joey almost never claim a class as their rose--it is usually their thorn!), which will lead to a discussion on history, or current political events. Although not related to a rose, thorn, bud conversation, we had a great dinner conversation with all of the kids a few nights ago. Pete had taken a phone survey on general political issues right as we were sitting down for dinner. After we all had our turn sharing our rose, thorn, bud, Pete told us the questions he was asked, and asked all of us what our opinion was, before sharing what his answer was. It was wonderful hearing what each of them had to say about things going on in our country. Such a great conversation, I think that was my rose!