I don’t know about you, but around here,we don’t get dessert every night. The kids tire of hearing me say, “dessert is a privilege, not a right” and whether or not we have it doesn’t really depend on whether or not they eat their vegetables. Sometimes we have something special (okay, rarely), sometimes they get a cookie or two and milk, sometimes they have walnuts, or fresh fruit, or a baked apple, or, as it happens, nothing.
We also don’t eat dinner together every night. My husband gets home late–usually around the time the children are turning off their lights–and he & I eat late, around 8 pm. We get to talk, and catch up on our day, and be sort of adult, and remember why we like each other, and have a glass of wine, and do some of the business that families always need to do re. schedules etc etc. Sometimes, too, we just eat and watch Madmen, or less gratifying TV.
I do sit down every night with both children while they eat, and we talk and that’s nice too. But the other night, something happened, and there were baths to be taken and general mayhem, and Finn hadn’t finished eating, so I sent Ella away to bathe and take care of her general end of the day business, and Finn finished up, and then the two of us sat quietly and the loveliest little chat while he had dessert. And when he was done, I sent him away, and Ella came back, all fresh from her bath, and she and I had a lovely little chat while she ate her dessert. And this was how I discovered the really lovely notion of one-on-one time just for dessert. As one of my favorite poets puts it, it was a moment when the house was quiet and the world was calm and my children and I were one. I have no idea what they ate after dinner that night, but I do know that it was really, really sweet.