The Best and the Worst

The Best and the Worst

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.

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  1. I love this. We usually do the best thing, but not the worst thing. I ask my daughter two other questions too; “what was a nice thing you did for someone else today?” and “what did you learn today?” (both of which I got from the power of moms website). They have been fantastic questions to ask, and really gets my daughter thinking.

    Emily Reply:

    I love those additions!! It definitely is just a starting point. I love the conversations it gets going.

    Heidi of Operation Organization Reply:

    I like those too! :)

  2. We do this, too. We call it highs and lows. We all have them, that’s for sure. Our kids often wait to tell us these things at dinner b/c we’ve made a time for it. I think it’s a great tradition. Carin’s idea of what did you do for someone is a great one – we used to tell our kids about the way Boy Scouts are encouraged to “do a good turn”. Then we’d ask them what their “good turn” for the day was. It’s one we should get back to.

    Emily Reply:

    yes, I love that idea!

  3. We just started this too! We call it “neat and delete” The neatest thing and the thing you wish you could delete. It’s big fun. Our 4 year old likes to play it at lunch and dinner.
    PS don’t feel bad about not blogging often. It just makes the times you do blog that more special :) Love the new look of it too by the way!

    Shana Reply:

    “Neat and Delete.” Love it. Am going to do it. Tonight.

  4. I used to do this, too. We called it “peak” and “pit.”

    Love that you’re starting this sharing time early with your kids. It shows them that you care and also teaches thankfulness!!! : )

    You’re a special girl, Em!

  5. I love all these twists on it!! Thanks everyone xo

  6. We do this too but at bedtime. I like the idea of doing it during dinner so we can talk more about it though. We do our favorite thing about the day and if anything made us sad. But I’m loving all the fun little word plays – neat and delete is cute!

  7. LOVE this idea!It gives the kids a chance to vent, and a chance to turn it around and see the good. I am going to do this at dinner tonight! Thank you!

  8. Love this! We do it too but call it high/low. Love the family dinner time even though with kids being picky eaters it can get stressful, one day I will miss these days!

  9. We do this too – but call it good thing / bad thing. And we always do the bad thing first, so we end on the positive.

  10. I’ve heard of this. My daughter is old enough now – I think we’ll start doing it!

  11. My company recently had the CEO (Chief Executive Optimist) from Life is Good speak to my team. One of the things his mom did with him and his 5 siblings was have them each tell them one good thing that happened to them each day at dinner. We are inundated with bad news but the good news is there as well, we just need to tell its story.

  12. We do this too. I love it, and like you, find it helps us find something to be grateful about as well as something to pray about. Plus, it gives me a real insight to what is going on in my kiddos brains. —Thanks for sharing!

  13. We’ve been doing the best part of our day for years, but maybe we should be asking about the worst parts now too. Looks like a whole new way to find out what’s really going on in their minds. Thanks for the inspiration

  14. I love stuff like this. We have various things we do around the dinner table to get the kids to talk, but one they really like is where you tell three things that happened that day–but one is made up. Then we all try to guess which ones are true. The kids love trying to fool us! :)

    Emily Reply:

    THAT is so fun!! Love it.

  15. I LOVE this. I have been asking my toddler this every evening at dinner as well as my husband. My toddler can’t answer quite yet but it gets me in the habit of doing it each night. It helps get a conversation going and my little guy watches us chat and he’ll babble in response. I think it’s a great ritual. Plus, it’s a nice change and it digs deeper than, “How was your day?”

  16. We called it Pits and Cherries. My two year old twins lift their arms up to show us their armpits. Too cute, they will understand someday I suppose.

    @Julia I will definately be using your idea.

    Emily Reply:

    Ahhh, that is too cute!!