Finally, the case against family dinner

Family Dinner. Almost legendary for its promise to bring your family together for bonding that cannot be replaced, right? Not to mention the guilt we feel when it doesn’t happen.

I strive for a family dinner every night at 6pm. If I have a simple meal planned and can get the children in front of their 25 minutes of PBS kids’ shows by 5:30, I can often achieve it. Kinda. Alec gets home at 6:22 if he and his bus are running on time.

Yesterday was one of those evenings when the stars didn’t quite align. The dinner I had chosen to prepare (from the One Dish Dinners cookbook) was American-style chicken biryani with about 1:15 in prep and cooking time. And I plopped them in front of the TV at 5:45 (with only time for “one chunk of Curious George”). Oops.

I punted on the real dinner for the kids and made one of my fastest meals (at the same time, because I’m magic like that): chicken quesadillas, sliced apple, and frozen peas. Milo also finished the hard-boiled egg and cashews from his lunch. When I brought them milk to drink, I sat down with them to chat while the adult dinner biryani’d.

After other chitchat about our days, I asked Holden if he preferred when we all four sat down together or when the boys ate together and I ate later with Daddy. I expected him to give the right answer. The magazine answer.

Ha ha.

Holden told me that he prefers it when I cook for just Milo and him rather than when we eat together as a family because then I can get up and down (over and over and over) without interrupting my own eating. How thoughtful. Milo agreed.

Now what? I guess I’ll keep aiming for that elusive family dinner that we all share, but skip my guilt trip when it doesn’t happen.

What do you think about the real and imagined family dinner?