A long time ago, probably when I was pregnant with my first child and the resulting hormonal imbalance skewed my sense of reality, I read a parenting book that highly recommended that a family unit gather on a regular basis for “Family Nights.” According to the expert author, these scheduled Family Nights would accomplish several things:
1. Family members would be able to “have a proactive dialogue” to air and resolve any “festering issues”; and/or
2. Members could participate in various “bonding” activities that would serve to bring the family closer together emotionally.
This sounds good on paper. And probably, most normal households would be able to pull it off. It just doesn’t work at my house.
Here’s a rendition of our most recent attempt at Family Night:
Mom: (played by me, the long-suffering mother who merely wants to bring her family closer together emotionally): Hey family members! How about we get together this evening for a Proactive Dialogue so we can air and resolve our Festering Issues?? I’ll make some popcorn!
Dad: (played by my husband of twenty years who should know by now that these kinds of suggestions are NOT really suggestions, rather they are COMMANDS thinly disguised as suggestions) Uhhhhhh…..I’m not sure I’ll be around…….and besides, the replay of the 1986 Masters Tournament comes on The Golf Channel at 9…..
Teenage son: (played by my teenage son, who only took the music player earbuds out of his ears long enough to catch the word “popcorn” come out of my mouth)Food?? Where???
Teenage daughter: (played by my thirteen year-old, whose social calendar rivals that of the entire British Royal Family) Mom! You CAN’T be serious. I have Andrea at 6:00 for a phone consultation, then I’m supposed to be at Whitney’s by 7:00 so we can walk over to Jacob’s together at 7:30 for a movie that will last approximately 90 minutes. Then I need to be back home on the computer by 9:30 so I can Instant Message Andrea and Whitney about the movie. Then I need to shower and do my nails while I watch the 3rd show from the 4th season DVD of Gilmore Girls. I can’t skip a night or I’d have to start all over.
Me: (now threatening to break out the sackcloth and ashes) Oh come on, family members! This is our chance to bond! Can’t we please carve out some time to discuss our personal challenges, review our family mission statement and set some goals for the next quarter??
Dad: (still oblivious of the spousal “evil eye” being cast in his direction) Uhhhhhh…….does this involve talking? Because you really can’t be having side conversations when you’re watching The Masters….
Teenage son: (putting the earbuds back in his ears and sauntering to the kitchen with a frown) I thought someone said there would be food.
Teenage daughter: (heading toward the back door) Can someone pick me up from Jacob’s at 9:00? Can I borrow your flip flops, mom? Has anyone seen my cell phone? I gotta call Andrea and tell her to meet me at Whitney’s…….
In an instant, I was left standing in the living room with no one but Zoey, our Yellow Lab, who wagged her tail and promptly flopped onto her back so I could scratch her tummy.
That qualifies as bonding, doesn’t it?