Okay here it is, another confession: I screwed up in front of my kids. Actually, it wasn’t just in front of them, it was with them. So, full confession: I screwed up with how I interacted and treated my kids, specifically my son.
Don’t worry, I’m not posting anything I haven’t already admitted to him and to God. And I am thankful to write that both have graciously forgiven me.
It was at the dinner table last night. Is there any dad out there who hasn’t sinned at the dinner table?
Here’s the problem: dinner is at the end of the day and I’m ready to start winding down from the day. The time I spend in the morning over a cup of coffee serves as the warm-up to the day, and dinner usually serves as the cool-down.
But that’s not how my kids view it. So, we have a conflict in expectations. Dinnertime for them often lends itself to escalated laughter and zaniness that quickly erodes into something akin to a wild rumpus.
Last night, I warmed up leftovers for the kids because Kim was still at work. Now leftovers for a 2, 5, 6, and 9 year old are usually greeted with all the joy of eating slugs. But last night, they were excited: ravioli and mac and cheese. Neither of these were from cans or boxes, mind you. These leftovers were the real deal and the kids brought healthy appetites and good attitudes.
After I got them their meals, I warmed up my own. They were mid-meal by the time I sat down, fully engaged in eating. While that is fairly unusual at our table, by the time I joined them they were already involved in conversation with each other. Conversation, not arguing. So it was going really well . . . until I entered the mix.
As Liam was talking, I said, “Shh. Shh.”
He responded, “Shh.”
Liam: “I was talking.”
Me: “I know. I said ‘shh.'”
And here is where I realized I was the one at fault, not them.
Liam: “Why? I was talking. We like talking and having fun at the dinner table. We don’t get to have fun in the morning because we have to get ready.”
Me: “I know, but I like it quiet. And not wild.”
Liam: “We like it wild.”
At this point, I fully realized that they were acting very well. There was no rumpus. They hadn’t been throwing food. It was me who had squashed the spirit. So, I apologized and asked him to kindly continue the conversation they were having when I sat down.
He did and the entire meal went very well.
Later that night, at bedtime, I had to intentionally humble myself and tell him that not only had he been right and I was wrong, but I told him that he handled it all very well. He hadn’t gotten sassy or argumentative with me. But in a clear, controlled and rational way he was able to make his case and it was clear that I was the one who nearly caused the wild rumpus.
As I sit here this morning I both hope that this experience will continue and never happen again. I hope that I stop screwing up with my kids and approaching things irrationally and selfishly. But I know that won’t likely happen. So, I hope that my kids will learn to calmly and rationally be able to speak their case and that I will have the clarity and humility to listen.