Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Family Dinner minus One or FireLife dinner

Dinner time without Daddy. This has been one of the most unobviously difficult parts of being married to a firefighter. Every third night dinner is just me and the kids. I have struggled with this time a lot. It's important to me that we eat dinner at the table (as opposed to the bar) together as often as we can. Also that I am not fixing throw-together meals for them just because Peter isn't here. I will admit that they eat quesadillas and mac and cheese more than they should but I at least always try to make it home made mac and cheese. It's just hard to muster up the energy to cook something that neither of these guys will eat since they are both kind of picky. But Peter's gone every third night. That is a lot of nights to be sitting at the bar eating boxed mac and cheese. This year it's something I have really be working on. Fortunantly, the kids are older and we can have real conversations around the dinner table. That has been a nice improvement.

I am constantly working on "normalizing" their schedule. Since we are fire people, our week falls into "Days Daddy is home" and "Days that Daddy works". The rest of the world falls into Monday-Sunday schedule. This year I am realizing more and more that the kids are living in the Monday-Sunday world and trying to fit them into the fire schedule brings them as much a sense of chaos as it used to bring me. It's hard to not have a Monday routine or know that I am working every Tuesday or Thursday each week and god forbid if I want to take a yoga class that meets every Wednesday night. These things are just not possible and it has taken me a long long time to come to terms with that and I'm still working on it. But the kids need a regular schedule so I am making that happen. Dinner at the table every night whether or not Daddy is there. Friday night is movie night. Thursdays are homework days. A shift has happened and it's time that we work in their schedule rather than them trying to adjust to a fire schedule.

On a completely unrelated topic:

 Yesterday, during our grumpy time at an incredibly busy play place, the kids were talking about how crowded it was inside there. Miss E said to me "when I was inside there a black girl pushed me". At the time, I didn't say anything to her about her choice of phrasing. As I have mentioned before, we haven't directly talked to the kids about the politics surrounding race. They think skin color is something like hair color or eye color, we are all slightly different, no one looks the same. And I have left it at that. Kids are by nature color-blind and the longer we can keep them from the grown up issues surrounding race the better, we think. However, I also know that we live in Portland and she does have to be careful about what she says.

So, tonight at dinner we had "Question night". This is something I do about once a month while Peter is working. The kids ask me any question about anything they want to. Of course, they can do this all the time, but it seems more fun to have a special event surrounding it. I brought up what she said yesterday and tried to explain then when you are only using skin color to identify someone i.e., "a black girl" that might be offensive to some people, that is better to say something like "a girl with black hair". It came out very convoluted and I had a hard time explaining why that was offensive and finally I just reminded them of our rule that they can ask me anything about anyone we see as long as we wait until they can't hear us since we don't want to hurt feelings.

After all this, she looks at me and says "but Mommy, she was wearing black clothes. Both her pants and top were all black and she pushed me."


Moral of the story? Ask questions first.

1 comment:

  1. Hilarious re the black girl! As for fire schedule, for us it was a lot more fun and easy--when Rand wasn't home, be it a night--a wk--or 2-3 wks we mostly had fun and that's what worked for us. Rand was gone twice as much as Peter ever is...Forts all over the house and eating in 'em, PB&J sammies or the good ol' mac 'n cheese from a BOX, in front of tv, or in bedrooms, spaghetti in a bowl in the bathtub--ohhhh, whatever! We missed Rand but sure had a good time. Kids even slept in forts sometimes--no matter! I ended up treasuring our times... just some thots!