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  • Writer's pictureJaye Gaff

An Aversion to Dining Tables

I have a strong dislike for dining tables. Eating at them, that is. Some of it stems from the rigmarole of sitting at one as a kid. The table had to be set before the parents got home from work. You had to stay seated until everyone had finished. At my mum's house we had to have a glass of milk and she never let me eat my shitty cheap cut of steak in bread like I preferred. At my dad's house you were force fed food you hated. My step-mother couldn't cook so her meals were always over cooked and tasteless.

Never mind that other thing that happened when I was three-ish on that dining table.

No. I despise them.

In my house we rarely eat at the table. Sometimes, as much as we try, our childhood trauma seeps into our lives and you can't do anything except work around it. For the most part we eat around the couch or in bed. We all also prefer to eat in silence away from everyone. I like to watch TV. B. prefers to watch YouTube. My Husband makes this weird chomping noise where his teeth mash together. My jaw can't open very far so I'm incredibly self conscious when I eat. B., sometimes, prefers to FaceTime her friends.

We are also very much a family who eats separate meals. I never got the kids need to eat the same meal as their parents thing. My child is not spoiled. Her favourite foods are fruits and veggies (she learned from the best, after all). She knows what a balanced meal is. But sometimes she wants salad or tacos and sometimes I want a fruit salad and Husband wants a sandwich. One main thing I took away from my childhood was this: I will never force feed my child things.

I despise yoghurt that has bits of fruit in it. That chunky stuff. But, as a kid, I got that stuff forced down my throat. And I'd vomit. And then I'd be forced to eat more. No. That's not happening in my house. My child eats whatever she wants. It just so happens that the kid favours berries and cucumber.

Anyway, I do, sometimes, feel bad that my child is growing up without that conventional-ness. We go out to eat and sit together with no devices. But we rarely sit together and eat at home unless we've ordered take away. Or she's having tacos with her dad.

In this vein we've started a Thursday cooking night where we all cook together. B. will pick the meal (this week she picked homemade sauce and pasta with brownies and hot fudge sauce for dessert). We made pasta and sauce from scratch. We mixed choc chips and walnuts into brownie batter. We stirred hot fudge sauce and topped it with whipped cream.

And after it's ready we sit together at the table and chat. And it's really nice and something we look forward to. We even go to the shops the day of and buy all the ingredients we need for that meal. It's perfect.

Our home may not have a forced dining experience, and perhaps, one day, I'll learn that that was a mistake. But, for now, I'm adoring the quietness and the mess we make. How once a week never makes it feel like a chore. How we look forward to the planning and the donning of aprons. And, most of all, how good sitting around a dining table can feel when you actually feel at home.

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