Family Dinners

Family Dinners

A Story by tcd123
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A story to help people notice the true importance and influence of experiences at the dinner table.

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I’m just a baby, sitting in my highchair next to Andy and Daddy and across from Mommy. Daddy’s at the head of the table smiling at me. Andy picks up one of my cheerios and throws it at Mary. They laugh, so I giggle. I dream of the day that I will get to eat big kid food like them and understand why they laugh. Daddy gets home everyday at 7:05. Mommy always takes off his coat and tie and they hug and kiss each other. Mary and Andy play with me before dinner and sometimes read to me before bed if I’m lucky. Life is good.

 

I’m in second grade now. Mary is in eighth and Andy is in sixth. They hate being in middle school together, but you can tell that they also love it because they are best friends. I wish I could be their best friend too. They are much bigger than me and they know it now. They make fun of me for being the baby and don’t let me play with them anymore, especially when they have friends over. Mary always complains at dinner about a pimple or a boy. Andy always copies her to make fun of her. Mommy scolds them a lot, something about being a bad example for me, but sometimes I don’t really pay attention to what they’re saying because Daddy tries to distract me. Daddy cuts my big kid food for me because I can eat it now, and he smiles at me a lot. He takes off his own coat and tie now, but Mommy still kisses him when she sees him. Life is still good.

 

Mary is a sophomore in high school now. Andy is in eighth grade. I’m in fourth. Mary always asks Mommy and Daddy for a new car. Daddy considers it, Mommy gets mad at him because of it. Andy gets mad at Mary for bringing it up and ruining family dinner, when really he’s just angry because he knows there’s even less of a chance for him to get a car. Mary changes the subject to the dance, the same dance she’s been talking about for the last two weeks. I tell them about my crush in my art class; he picked me to be his partner for the finger-painting project so he definitely likes me. Andy tells me that I’m not allowed to like boys and that if any of them thinks he’s good enough to be my crush they have another thing coming. I giggle and tell him to knock it off, but he nudges me and tells me he isn’t kidding. Mary reassures me he’s right, and I get angry because she’s annoying and it’s unfair because she has lots of boyfriends. Mommy and Daddy don’t really say as much to each other anymore. Life is still kinda good, I think.

 

Mary’s a senior now, getting ready to go to college soon. She isn’t at dinner. She doesn’t really do family dinners anymore because she’s always “doing a project” with her boyfriend or out with her friends who I’m really starting not to like. Andy’s here, but he’s eating fast because he has his basketball game soon and he has to go back to school. He’s starting as a sophomore, and I am really proud to call him my big brother. He takes a bite of his garlic bread but then throws it on my plate. He rubs my head and says I need to put some more meat on my bones and he better see me cheering at his game. I smile at him and tell him to score for me. He stops in the doorway and winks at me, and tells me that there’s never a game that he doesn’t. He turns around and almost runs into Daddy, who is late again. He’s been late a lot lately. It makes Mommy angry. Daddy quickly sits down and starts to eat. I tell Mommy and Daddy about the baskets that I scored in gym class today when I played against all boys. Mommy gives me a quick smile and says she’s proud, but her smile goes away really fast when she looks back at Daddy eating his food. Daddy gets up and says thank you for dinner, tells me to grab my coat if I want to make it to Andy’s game on time, and I jump up to follow him. I look back at Mommy. She’s cleaning all the dishes by herself. I want to help her, but I really don’t want to miss Andy’s game. I wave goodbye to her and she gives me the quick smile again. She doesn’t come to a lot of Andy’s games anymore. Life is okay.

 

Mary’s gone in college, but it isn’t that different from before because she was never home to begin with. Andy is a senior now and talking about how he can’t wait to go. He still eats with us. He looks over at me and tells me not to miss him too much once he leaves to play for North Carolina next year. Daddy’s not here, he had another meeting Mommy says. Mommy looks really stressed and isn’t eating too much. Andy notices me staring at her and tells me to finish my plate so I can go shoot some hoops with him outside before he has to leave to go out with his girlfriend. He still cares about me. I don’t want him to leave. He’s a good big brother. I don’t want to go to high school without him being there. I miss Mary too even though she didn’t act like she liked me too much most of the time. Life is weird.

 

I’m a sophomore in high school now. Andy and Mary are both gone, have been for almost two years now, and I hate it. Their chairs stare at me like it’s my fault that they’re cold and bare. Daddy looks really old now. He has to wear his glasses all the time and not just for reading, and his black hair has gray spots. Mommy looks really tired, and she got really skinny really fast. Eating with them is uncomfortable. They yell a lot; they don’t really wait til I go to my room anymore to start arguing. I don’t talk about my day. I lose my appetite and barely eat dinner at all, considering we go between Dominos and Chipotle every single night. It gets old after awhile. I miss my brother and sister. I can’t wait to go to college and get out of here. I get up and leave, sometimes right out the door, and almost every time they don’t even notice. I miss my family. I miss family dinners. Life sucks.

 

It’s the first time I’ve stepped foot in this house since college. Mom and Dad got divorced as soon as I graduated. It was more of something we had all been waiting for than anything like a surprise. On holidays we started going to Mary’s in New York. Mom had decided to keep this house, and the only reason we’re back here is because Dad just died. It was sudden, no one expected him to have a heart attack. My mom makes us all her famous chicken noodle soup. She’s really old now, and you can see it. Mary, Andy, and I held her really tight today. She had always loved dad and we all knew that. I sit down next to Andy. We leave the head of the table open, and Mom sits across from me. Andy talks about when we were all little. Mary says she had secretly always loved reading to me but never admitted it because she didn’t want Andy to make fun of her. I say I miss that a lot. Mom cries. Andy makes her laugh, which makes Mary laugh, which automatically still makes me laugh. We hold hands. We pray. We thank God for what we still have. I look over to Daddy’s chair and I remember him cutting my food and smiling at me. I smile back. I thank God for family dinners, and all of the memories they have given me. In this moment, life is good again.


© 2013 tcd123



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Added on May 2, 2013
Last Updated on May 2, 2013
Tags: family, dinner, bond, love, change, missing, loss, regret, growth, childhood, resent, memory, influence, life lessons