When Mealtime makes Memories - 10 Prompt Questions Guaranteed to Get Your Family Talking
Posted on August 19 2020
I remember the time when my first son was 2, and we sat at the kitchen table together with a bowl of blueberries. For every blueberry he tried, he would announce whether it was “sweet!” in an adorable high-pitched toddler voice, or “sour!” which he said with a crinkled up face. For every single blueberry in the bowl. I was smiling ear to ear and celebrating each blueberry with him, as only a mom would do, drinking in each exuberant declaration as my first baby discovered the world and shared it with me. I even remember posting on social media that I never wanted him to outgrow the joy of announcing how his blueberries tasted.
But he did. He can eat a whole pint now in one sitting, and does it often without even glancing up at me. But I still have the scene of that day years ago etched in my memory – exactly where we were at the kitchen table, how close he was to me, how bright his blue eyes were, how the afternoon sunlight poured in and highlighted his artwork I had hung on the wall, and the colorful bowl filled with blueberries.
I have so many little snippets of life like that visually preserved in my mind, like snapshots from behind-the-scenes on set at a tv show recording – the props, the lighting, the people. And the feeling. Do you? And have you ever noticed how so many memories are woven right there at the kitchen table?
These are the juice glasses from my grandparents’ house. They were my sister’s and my favorite thing when we had lunch there because they were the perfect size for our little dainty child-size hands. They were filled with water or ginger ale (yes, ginger ale) and always ready for sipping when we had our “fruit parties” with my grandpa. He would sit there with us, slicing an apple or banana slowly (I can still picture the knife, too!), and with each slice, he told the next part of a made-up story. He was creative and kind, patient and silly, and had such colorful ideas and characters to share with us. He passed away in 2001, and when my grandma passed this year, I made sure to keep some of the glasses for myself, to share these stories with my own kids and keep those memories alive.
Now I’m having a flood of more memories from my own childhood kitchen! When I was 3, I had a placemat that was a farm picture, and I remember the top of the silo had the perfect size circle for my cup to sit on. I loved placing my cup exactly within the lines of that shape. I don’t think anyone knew. Or maybe it was designed to be like that? Either way, it my secret little entertainment while I ate my breaded chicken and licked ketchup off my fingers. I can picture how my dad poured his soda every night, how my mom would magically get everything served at the same time, and how my sister and I would play “fancy lady” and then laugh and negotiate dessert. We had a lot of family dinners. We were really lucky that way.
OUR TWO FAVORITE PROMPT QUESTIONS
What is it about the kitchen, or mealtime in general, that truly brings families together? I have three kids of my own now, in a household with two working parents, and lots of activities. I fully understand how hard it is these days to pull off a family dinner. But we aim for it at least a few times a week, and when we do it, a bit of magic happens. Whether it’s making sure my kids know which foods I made special for them because I know their favorites, or cleaning up the inevitable spilled drink (every. single. night.), or randomly bursting into song, or negotiating for my youngest to have at least “three more bites” in order to get dessert, it’s family-time magic. It’s the perfect time and place to get the kids talking – and we use these prompt questions and have each of us go around and respond:
- “What are two good things that happened today?"
- "What is one thing that could have gone better?”
It’s not about having a perfect meal with multiple side dishes and all the right food groups. It’s about being together.
I wonder what my kids are taking in as we do this, what mealtime memories they are making. Will they remember their placemats, the way I sliced my food, the types of answers we each gave to those questions? What props from these scenes of life will they remember, and what will they carry with them years from now in their hearts? I guess I’ll have to wait to find out, and in the meantime, I’ll just keep making magical mealtime memories of my own.
8 ADDITIONAL PROMPT QUESTIONS TO TRY WITH YOUR FAMILY
- If you could be a famous person for a week, who would you be and why?
- If you could have any superpower, which would you choose?
- If you had one wish (and you can’t wish for more wishes), what would you wish for and why?
- What is your biggest fear?
- What is one way you helped another person today?
- If you could trade places with your parents for a day, what would you do differently?
- If you could see your future, where will you be in ten years?
- What is one thing you are grateful for today?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
This original content piece was written by Karen Lesh. Karen is a new contributor to our lollaland original content series. She is a marketing executive and mom of 3 boys. Karen is an avid writer on her own personal blog (www.mobtruths.com) as well as being featured on Scary Mommy, Her View From Home, Today's Parents and more.