Please Don’t Tell My Mother

I did something last night that was bad.

Very, very bad.

I knew it was wrong at the time, yet I still went ahead and did it anyway.

What is it that has me feeling so uneasy, so guilty, so… naughty?

Husband, Daughter and I brought her laptop to the dinner table last night and – dare I say it? – watched television while we ate.

Okay, I know some of you out there are mortified, thinking how inappropriate to do such a thing. And some of you may be thinking ‘what’s the big deal?’.

It’s just that I was raised with two very clear lessons drummed into me regarding dinner time: you should make every effort to eat together as a family. Every night, or as often as humanly possible. And you did not eat with the television on.

Not that we had a TV anywhere near our kitchen table, mind you. But I remember the topic being raised once (perhaps one of us kids mentioning that so-and-so’s family ate dinner watching television) and my mother was so swift in condemning the very notion that it’s stayed with me to this day.

You’ll have to take my word for it, but my mother is a lovely woman. She wasn’t (and still isn’t) the sort of person who makes decrees. So my childhood wasn’t a minefield of ‘thou shall do this’ and ‘thou shall NOT do that’.

But on this particular issue, I guess she felt very strongly. It probably stems from the old belief that ‘the family that eats together builds bonds together’. The elders teach the children how to converse and share opinions, to take turns, that sort of thing. The dinner table is essentially one big intergenerational playing field on which children learn that they are part of a family unit, benefitted by loving interactions with other family members.

Well, except for those moments when someone’s accidentally spilling their milk in their brother’s lap, pouting in protest at the menu offering, declaring that it’s not fair that their younger/older sibling gets to do as he/she pleases, or otherwise engaging in a tantrum. But you get the picture.

Taking meals together is supposed to help families get along. Children observe that there are expectations for their behavior. So I’m a gal whose family eats dinner together. Most of the time. Okay, whenever possible. But most nights, yes.

And without the television on, even in the background.

Except for last night.

And the reason why? The Atlantic Coastal Conference (more familiarly known throughout America as the ACC) college basketball tournament is underway. Last night’s game pitted our favorite University of North Carolina Tar Heels against Maryland.

The time differential between the US East Coast and the Netherlands is six hours, so usually games are on here in the wee hours of the morning. But the tournament’s midday schedule put the game’s starting time squarely in the path of the family dinner.

Photo of a basketball sitting on a basketball court at www.adventuresinexpatland.com

What to do, what to do?

I’ve written before about our family’s love of Heels basketball (see Tell Me Again Why I’m Still Up at 1 in the Morning??).

Say what you will, we’re diehard fans.

Yet I could hear my mother’s voice, ringing in my ears. Television at the dinner table, perish the thought!

So how did it end up?

I did what any self-respecting woman does. I put on my big girl panties, pulled my chair closer to the laptop and watched Carolina win decisively.

And you know what? It felt good.

You know what else? We’re doing it again tonight. Just don’t tell my mother…

[Image credit: Arvind Balaraman, porfolio 1058, FreeDigitalPhotos.net]



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