This is our third round of “The Marriage Umpire” today. You send us your marital problem and we’ll help you solve it. (We actually do this all the time but we’re officially playing this week as we await the new show “The Marriage Ref” by Jerry Seinfeld on NBC.)
This problem is NOT anonymous. I have permission to use names on this one. This comes from our very own Jesse’s Girl and is all about the expectation versus the reality of family dinners. Here’s what she writes (always so colorfully! – the crux of the argument is in bold):
“OK….so I know that there’s a huge push for the “Family Dinner Table.” Well at our house…that’s a load of horse crap. Try as I might…it never works for us. With Jesse’s travel schedule, we only get 2 dinners a week as a family. Usually on the weekends. You would think I would have learned my lesson long ago…but apparently, I am wwaayy dumber than I ever thought possible. Here’s a typical Jesse’s Girl family dinner. (and it should be mentioned…pointedly so…that I HATE when it plays out like this. Jesse thinks it’s just “so funny and cute.” Hence the need for the umpire:)
JG: has been lovingly preparing everyone’s faves for dinner…with an apron on no less! The girls may get mac n cheese, mashed taters….their fave comfort foods. The Boy may get spicy chicken wings….its really funny to see him navigate through all the sauce. And I will typically make Jesse a steak…perfectly grilled and pink in all the right places…cause I love him:)
The girls: My 13 and 11 year old daughters will begin setting the table…keeping the nit-picking down to a minimum because they know…Hey, mom is really knockin herself out here. They squabble a bit about where everyone is sitting. But I just let it go because I know after living with these lovely..albeit predictable…creatures for so long that they will end up exactly where they always are. Pick your battles right?
The Boy: The Boy is never around when dinner is being prepared. Why? Because I may kill him….no..he literally may be killed. He sneaks up behind me with any number of noisy toys and tries to scare me. I am petrified that I will swing a greasy spatula around one day and scar him so bad he’ll look like the Phantom of the Opera! So he’s been banned.
Jesse: My sweet husband. He is very likely watching some sports show…although it could just as easily be The Military or History Channel. But he calls out to me every so often….”Babe….is there anything I can do?” To which I reply….”No honey…you just sit right there”. (I am not being bitchy yet….I really want him to sit. I could kill him in the kitchen too. He likes to goose me. It’s dangerous to goose a woman while she’s cookin’.)
Now we are all at the table. The blessing has been said. And so….it begins. The Boy will burp…loudly. Then the oldest…GIRL mind you…finds it appalling that her baby brother is catching up to her uncanny and nauseating ability to sound as if she is a 400 lb man moving furniture. So she burps even louder. All 3 children are laughing so wildly at this point that if I didn’t know what was being served for dinner already…I would have my answer by seeing the gaping holes in their heads where their closed mouths used to be! I say something about manners in my most stern voice and for a couple of minutes all is quiet on the western front. Then Jesse will compliment my culinary abilities…and do something sweet like lean over and kiss my hand or forehead. I think…”Hey! Maybe we’ll make it through this dinner without the farting!” But no….my hopes are dashed. Jesse has decided that it’s time for the Orifice Orchestra to go on! Wonderful…perfection! I sit at my table where I am treated to some lovely pieces of music….FOR FARM ANIMALS!!! Jesse burps and farts…the kids burp and fart…telling stories from their week in between the sounds of fatherly bonding.
They think it’s great! They love their daddy so much and think he’s awesome for being so cool. And he does threaten their lives if they even think of doing this outside the confines of our home. But I want one…just ONE… family dinner that does not involve belching and tooting. And people wonder why wine gives me such pleasure……”
Again I think a fairly common issue – kids (and sometimes husbands) get silly and out of hand at dinner. We rarely if ever are lucky enough to have Michael at the dinner table with us. Mine tend to get silly and giggly and just out of control laughing. A little fun is great at the dinner table but not when they are out of control.
OK so should Mr. Jesse be perfuming the air and encouraging the kids to do the same? How can family dinners be reigned in so they are fun but not out of control?