Joys and Concerns: Or, How to Begin A Conversation at Dinner 09.19.2013

My friend Christie has a tradition at her dinner table that everyone in attendance announces his or her joy and concern for the day.  Nice, right?  You've got to pick just one thing that sucked, and one that that did not suck about your day.

What I like about this exercise is that it gets everyone to be present, focused, and ask follow-up questions.  I don't know how dinner goes down at your house, but we want conversation and interesting discussion.  I'm not saying that it happens, but that's what we want.

My kids are not at an age where we can have hearty discussions about the conflict in Syria or last Sunday's episode of Breaking Bad (OMG Hank!), but if my 6-year-old daughter remembers that one perfect moment in her day, an avalanche of a story pours out.  It's a beautiful thing.  Without the dinner-game prompt, she would report that nothing happened, she spoke to no one, no one played with her, and she learned nothing.  Devastatingly heartbreaking, and completely untrue.  I know because I've spied on her.  That's right: I spy on my kids.  

And my 4-year-old son?  His joy usually is "poo poo and pee pee" (I am not making this up) and his concern usually is "toilet" (I am not making this up either).  The only explanation I have is that he is a boy and these words are magical to him and he enjoys saying them frequently in front of lots of people, mostly strangers.  I know what you’re thinking:  early admission Yale. My thought exactly.

My joys and concerns are very simple but I sometimes have to say my number two joy or concern for fear that the children will not fully understand or comprehend my number one joy or concern.  For example, yesterday my number one joy was:  “I am drinking a vodka tonic right now.”  But instead I said, “I saw a beautiful sky this evening.”  And I have a picture to prove it.

Happy conversing all!

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