As you probably know, Italians are experts at family dinners, especially the ’special occasion’ meals. We’ll usually have three (or more) generations sitting, eating and chatting their time away. I love them, but real life is different.
In our home it seems that even two generations is one too many as it’s nearly impossible to enjoy a meal with the children. They are fussy eaters, they need total dedication, encouragement and a lot of effort. The older one never finishes his (ant-size) portions of food, and the little one cannot sit still for longer than 10 minutes. Every other minute a spoon falls on the floor, or somebody’s beaker needs refilling. Not too mention the cutting and the chopping.
Call me a bad mother, but I simply cannot enjoy my food and the company in such situations.
The solution that works for us is to make two dinners, an early one for the children and a later one for us once the children are in bed. It also works well because, in spite of living in Italy, our children have very ‘British’ bedtimes. This way my husband and I are able to eat a quiet meal and have adult conversation.
Apparently I’m not alone: family dinners are not easy for a lot of people and the issue is quite controversial. Some people resort to bribing with desserts, some prefer to let the children eat alone.
I know this is temporary and in a couple of years the “perfect” family meal might be a reality for us too, and I do my best to teach them to be well mannered at the table, but these days this is what works best for us!
What happens in your family? Joint or separate?