We have a tall table in our kitchen - pub height I guess they call it - with four stools around it. It's nothing fancy and a little small, but it's the perfect fit for the little eat-in area in my kitchen. I do try to make the kids sit and eat together in the kitchen. I know that we need family meal times even though most of the time the kids would much rather take their food into their rooms and eat in front of the darn TV.
Everyday I hear the same question (usually from Madalyn first), "Who gets to sit in the good spot????"
The good spot happens to be the seat nearest the laundry room and with the back against the windows. Why it's considered the good spot I'm not sure I'll ever know. But it is. And they both want to sit there. Every single time we sit down to eat.
It used to be an all out war over the good spot, usually ending with Madalyn shrieking in the most horrific pitch you can imagine and David angry as a stirred hornet's nest. Screaming, hitting, tears... not the perfect picture of the family dinner. One night, it was so bad that Scott actually moved the table so that for a moment the good spot didn't exist. I've gotten so fed up with the daily argument that I've refused to let either of them sit in the good spot and sat in it myself. But it's never mattered what solution I found; on the next occasion of eating, the argument ensues.
"It's my turn!!!!!!"
"You sat in the good spot last year!!!!!" (Last year is Madalyn's equivalent to the word yesterday - took me forever to figure this one out, but I have finally cracked her vocabulary code... somewhat.)
"You're not sitting there...." (This one's always followed by a lot of shoving and pushing and usually ends up with them sitting side by side on the same stool, which never lasts for very long as some one's behind always ends up on the floor.)
I finally came up with the conclusion that I would determine who got to sit in the good spot each time. The prime factor of the decision making process would be who sat there last and the behavior of the child at the moment. For instance, say it's Madalyn's turn to sit in the good spot, but she runs into her brother's room bragging about it being her turn and says something along the lines of, "I get to sit in the good spot and YOU don't... so there!" That type of behavior usually lends itself to good spot loss of privilege. And her brother has those moments as well, but his most common form of antagonizing (as he is a little older and wiser) is the silent repeating of what his sister says. It's really quite genius - he simply mimics what she says, moving his mouth and making funny faces at her. Of course all the activity is silent, and it sends Madalyn into a frenzy.
"He's frepeating me!!!!!!! Stop frepeating me, brudder!!!!" (Yes - we add F's to certain words, like repeat, and it makes it quite difficult in these types of crises to keep a straight face.)
So David's approach is a little more stealthy, while Madalyn's is incredibly loud and obnoxious. And I find myself wanting to take the table outside in the yard and go at it with an ax and use the remnants for firewood. Or maybe make a raft and plan my escape from this deserted island I find myself trapped upon... wait a minute. This is no island.
But then I find myself realizing that the day is coming soon that they won't be silently repeating the other with weird faces and all. That Madalyn won't care where her brudder sits at the dinner table. That these really are the simplest of times. That all my kids have to be upset about in the whole wide world is who sits in the good spot while they eat their grilled cheese.
Life is good.