In the 80’s Families did Dinner time; Here’s why I Fail at This

imageThanks to  Netflix’s Stranger Things, my son has discovered Corey Hart. He digs him. People don’t say that anymore do they? But he does. Dig him very much. He even made a cool edit of the show’s most intense moments using the synthetic sounds of I Wear My Sunglasses at Night as background music. I dug it.

I must say my son’s penchant for Corey Hart came as a surprise since he tends to be drawn to louder, faster, hard hitting soul shaking music such as Guns N’ Roses, but I understood the appeal since when I was, well about his age, I too was drawn to the moody song. Ian listening to Cory Hart brings me back to the 8o’s, which apparently is where Ian wants to be.

We are sitting on our crumb covered couch, the accent pillows of course are strewn about the floor. Why the hell did I buy a couch with pale green accent pillows?  Ian is picking the hard frosting off a Pop Tart and he tells me he wishes he grew up in the 80’s.  I’m intrigued. This could be a chance to get into my son’s hard to reach thoughts. Having to always use the backdoor when it comes to trying to hammer out his feelings, I jump on the juicy topic like a Blanche Deveroux on a man.

“Why do you say that?” I ask him. His little feet are tucked between the gap in the cushions, his freckles still prominent from August’s intense sun.

He presses his thin, pink lips together before answering.

“I don’t know, it just seemed like a better time, you know, the music was better and kids could play outside and the neighbors would know you, oh and families would have dinner time. ”


His answer stuns me. Did he really see the times he is growing up in in such a dim light that he would surrender his beloved IPhone, tablet, and constant viewing of some dude name Pewdiepie for life in the 80’s? Did this mean I had to start cooking? The guilt of swinging by Wendy’s on the way home from work starts to work its way into my heart. I start to think about what dinner time was like when I was growing up. It certainly looked quite different from the hurried task of speeding through the drive-thru; or when I have the energy, a quickly thrown together meal which I end up eating standing up as I load the dishwasher. Dinner time growing up had a more important theme in our house when I was a child. My sisters and I would set the table. I can’t remember the last time a table was set in my house. Maybe it was last Thanksgiving. My mother would cook from scratch, and except for Friday pizza night, there would always be a side of fresh vegetables. I haven’t found a vegetable that both of my sons like so our store bought rotisserie chicken is usually sans sides. I remember my parents  making us clean our plates even if it was something we hated.

Although I don’t completly agree with that rule, I wondered what it would be like to make a meal without ending up scrapping most of it off of plastic plates. Oh, and my parents never did plastic plates. It was always real dishes and a cloth napkin for my very fussy father. It was kind of nice. I start to think, maybe I should give that chicken casserole I saw on Pinterst a whirl.But then I remember I can barely manage to boil water without having to take a Xanax, and think, there must be an alternative. Can my family bond without an official bells and whistles dinner time?

That night I attempt to cook pasta. About half way into al dente, I realize in my frenzied culinarian state, my son does not do sauce. This means having to prepare a separate butter and cheese mix for him. Shit! More bowls to clean. I’m already up to my eyeballs in cutting boards, knives, and one wayward can opener. I panic, but I’ve already committed to this. Mommy’s making dinner!

I ask the boys to set the table. They fight.

I put out glassware. My son spills the lemonade and breaks the glass. Shit!

I dole out the hot slippery linguini. The older one bitches that it has too much sauce. He takes a napkin and methodically wipes each linguini strand clean.

I burn the garlic bread, and the boys complain the house smells like farts.

I don’t end up eating the meal at mealtime, because it’s all too stressful. I score a xany, pour  myself half a glass of wine and end up shoveling in a few bites while unloading the dishwasher at 9p.m.  Clearly I’m defeated. I can’t even do one night of family dinner! My mother would be ashamed. I kinda don’t care. But I do wonder if my son is disappointed.

The next night we get sandwiches at QuickChek and eat them on the couch while watching Stranger Things. Ian happily picks off shreds of lettuce with precision as my older son crams smoked turkey in his mouth. We watch Eleven sacrifice herself to kill the Demi-gorgon, and discuss the Duffer brothers nod to E.T. Everyone is satiated and relaxed.  I have nary a dish to clean, nor a pot to soak.

The 80’s rocked, but they can keep their formal dinners. We’ll bond over Corey Hart.



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