Much to my happiness and our children’s entertainment, the cul-de-sac we live on is home to numerous young kids (besides the ones living under our roof). Sloan and Beau have spent pretty much every day this summer playing with their neighbors and owning our little corner of the neighborhood. As someone who enjoyed a childhood that was filled with long summer days playing with the kids on my street, I am overjoyed that Sloan and Beau are receiving the same experience.
Although the social interaction is priceless, I am also now privy to the minor parental annoyances that are a byproduct of neighbor kids congregating. I am talking about silly things like Sloan sneaking into our pantry and distributing all our snacks to her friends, bikes and toys constantly littering our driveway, and the conversion of our garage into a clubhouse. You know, things that my parents dealt with 25 years ago that I am just now sympathizing with?
And then there is one final thing. When I was a kid, my parents enforced something that drove me NUTS. Like I seriously detested it. But now I 100% understand it and hold my kids to it as well (who equally hate it). Okay, this is what it is…
There was no bigger buzzkill than when I was playing with the neighbors and my parents called me inside for dinner. Despite pleas to skip our family meal so I could stay outside, my mom and dad never relented. So what was my reaction once I was seated at the table? I ate my dinner as fast as I possibly could. Without any regard for the time it took to cook the meal nor the financial resources used to provide it, I would inhale whatever was in front of me or just say I was full. Okay mom, can I go back out and play?
Of course, the speed demon strategy never worked. Instead, my request to return outside was always met with the same infuriating response from my parents: No, you need to let your food settle.
Oh, how I hated it when my parents said that. To this day it is still ingrained in my mind and it still generates a little bit of frustration…but I now completely understand it. The point behind “letting your food settle” was to give our bodies just a little bit of time to digest the food that was stuffed down our throats before dashing back outside to run around the neighborhood. Somewhat logical, right? Of course “letting your food settle” was also code for don’t think disrespecting the dinner I made by engulfing it in two minutes will allow you to leave this table.
As I would “let my food settle” I would stew in my chair, thinking about what my friends were doing and what I was missing out on. The time seemed to go by so slow. The magic words “Okay, you can go back out” were always so liberating.
Sloan tries to pull the same stunt I did by eating at warp speed. But just like my parents did with me, we keep her honest…and use that same endearing phrase. Of course we want her food to settle in the literal sense, but, just like my parents, we want to uphold the importance of family dinner. She might not understand it now but “letting her food settle” is a crucial lesson in respect, fellowship, and appreciation. Don’t Blink.