We recently started to do something new each night around the dinner table. The kids are still young and we all eat dinner together every night, just as I did when I was growing up at home with my parents. It’s important to me that no matter if someone has a busy schedule or the kids don’t like what I made that we still all sit together as a family and for that sliver of the day, spend that time to come together away from the crazy of it all to be in the same space to listen and to share.
In an effort to make the moments at the table a little bit less about whining about what is in the dinner I made that picky mouths don’t like and a little more about family time, I started asking my kids, “what was the best thing about your day today?” And they loved sharing little things that I might not otherwise have heard about – “My best friend laughed at my joke at lunch!” or “When you jumped on the hay bales with me!”
One evening, my question was answered with silence. My daughter couldn’t think of anything, but she did say “I can tell you the worst thing that happened to me today!” and she told us about the boy a grade above her in school who pointed and laughed at her in the lunchroom the day after the 49ers vs. Giants game when she wore her 49ers shirt to school in an effort to show she loves her team even when they lose. Tears came to her eyes as she recounted the older boy mocking her.
We talked about it, about how mean people can be. About how we love ourselves no matter what anyone else thinks.
Thus was born the nightly ritual of not only sharing the best part of each of our days – it’s easy to be grateful for the good stuff – but also each of us have begun to share the worst thing that happened to us each day.
Tonight, it went as such:
7 year old girl:
Best thing – playing on the playground
Worst thing – A boy hitting another boy in the pick up line at school
5 year old boy:
Best thing – Getting pirate treasure at school
Worst thing – A boy taking off his pirate costume at school
Best thing – coming home to his smiling family after work
Worst thing – finding out a friend has cancer
Best thing – nabbing a pair of 7 for all Mankind jeans at Goodwill for $5
Worst thing – going outside to play with my son this afternoon together and having our yard swarmed by other kids, leaving no quiet for me and my boy
The thing about this exercise is that usually, it brings about a whole lot of gratitude. My hubby and I say to each other often when one of us is complaining about something silly.”If that is the worst thing that happens today, life is pretty good.” And it’s usually true. And while it can seem like our lives are reduced to play time and bargains, sometimes it’s those little things that matter the most and can make or break the day. There is nothing better than looking back on a day well spent and realizing that even with the “bad”, life is still really good.