As we sit here staring, it is as it has always been. I peer across the oak table to witness sibling rivalry at its finest, while my mother and father are doing their best to utilize their selective hearing abilities and carry on what they call real conversation. A family dinner - three kids, two parents, and some real conversation. I call it gossip, and avoid the scene with random experiments such as the number of peas that can be stabbed onto one prong, or how much gravy a mound of potatoes is really able to hold before bursting.
I focus back in on the "real conversation" when the topic has drifted to my brother's latest curfew restriction as a result of his most recent report card, and then let the shouts return to the muffled background chatter of my mind's wanderings, as my brother throws his napkin and leaves the room. A family dinner - two kids, two parents, and some real conversation.
Lacking meaningful conversation with anyone else, I ask myself how my week went, when I am rudely interrupted with one of my sister's vegetarian tangents which inevitably leads to her early departure to locate non-meat elsewhere. A family dinner - a kid, two parents, and some real conversation. I prod the work of art I have created on my plate, waiting for the child rearing debate to begin. But tonight is different. Tonight my father turns to me and asks me how my day was, and then he waits for a response. How was my day? I got home around three, did not have enough time to do all that I wanted, and was forced into a family dinner.
I sit staring at my father for a couple seconds, pondering my next utterance. "My day was fine," I coldly lie and fix my stare on the clock which seems to run backwards for moments like these.
"Great," my father sarcastically replies, and so on our meal continues. Another attempt at the "family dinner" - a kid, two adults, and some disheartening silence.