light

Something is helping.
I’m back on the ridiculous hour, the crazy time between the end of the official end of the day and dinner time.   It doesn’t seem like it has to be so hard, and I think it’s a worthy project–figuring this one out.  
The time switch has made it all feel more urgent.  We get home from work and school and dance and meetings and all of those things in the day and its dark.  Everyone is starving and tired and done.  Even the cat is hungry.  The girls either cry because they don’t want to set the table for dinner or they fight over who gets to set the table.  They fight with great volume, and I have to leave the kitchen.  The cat is still hungry.  Meow.
And it’s only 4:30.
Everyone’s ridiculous hour looks different.  In some families there are two parents coming home from different jobs, picking up kids, spilling into the house by 5:30 or 6:00.  The cat is hungry.  Meow.  And the meat isn’t defrosted yet.  And the little one fell asleep on the way home and now she’ll never go to bed.  What the hell is for dinner.
Or maybe one parent is home and the other is at work out of the home.  And the out of home parent comes home ravenous, and he or she just wants to walk in the door and sit down for a minute, but at home parent says, “Thank God you’re home.  The kids are driving me nuts.  How was your day and I need your help RIGHT NOW.” Meow.  Has anyone fed that cat yet?
However it looks, the situation seems to span across families.  It is a common element, and bonding squeeze the hands kind of circle that links us all.  
We can figure this one out.
I’ve got a few things that have been helping.  Here and there, there seems to be a bit of a way to ease through the hour a bit.  Tonight, one tip.
I have been lighting a candle on the table almost the moment I get into the door.  I walk in, drop all the lunchboxes and backpacks that the girls have refused to carry onto the floor, press play on the answering machine, shoo the girls into the bathroom to wash their hands.  Try to remember what I’m making for dinner.
Then, I light a candle on the table.
I guess there are all different reasons why it might help, but it probably has something to do with the point of focus.  It calms the room, and because it’s on the table, it’s like a little sign that everyone can see. It says “calm yourself, you crazy child.  This table is a warm and welcoming place, and if you chill out enough for me to be able to get to it, I will give you dinner on this table very soon.  Calm down, and go read your book in your room.”
Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but it always seems to help a little bit.  
I am aware that this is my second post about candles in a row.  It’s a coming into winter thing, I guess. And it helps.  
So, yes, of course this would be the place to chime in, if you’re so inspired.  Cea mentioned her evening family dance parties in the brussels sprouts post–that’s a good one too, I think.  Any one else have any ridiculous hour creative ideas?  Besides walking out and letting the kids fend for themselves while we all meet for a drink?  

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5 Responses to light

  1. NCavillones says:

    your candles are a nice idea, and even if doesn't always work, it'll become part of the story– when your kids are grown, they'll say to their own kids, "my mother always used to light candles before dinner." maybe someday i'll steal your idea. right now, the only thing that works is dora the explorer but that might be because my kid is two.

  2. Meg says:

    Well, you know *I* agree one hundred percent. Not a night goes by that I don't light candles around here. It's been a ritual for me since c. 1997. Candlelight makes absolutely everything better. Three cheers!

  3. Lana says:

    I wish I had read your post several years ago:) Mine are getting easier to control these days. I can see how the candles would work for girls (and I have all girls:)
    Although I think your finishing sentence has a lot of merit:)

  4. Alicea says:

    Umm did you jump inside my frantic brain tonight!? I'm a little scared cause that is our life word for word, even the sleeping baby part! Thank you so much for the candle reminder. For us setting the table is a last minute thing and I always forget the napkins, someones drink, the butter… You know. So tonight I set the table first ( with candles) and it was lovely and Ben ate all of his soup! Xoxo

  5. Kate says:

    I think the candles are a great idea. I happened to read your post just before dinner the other night, so I immediately lit some candles, and the evening was very calm and pleasant. We also get through the ridiculous hour (which in our house is kidlet fussy time) with a little snack to tide us over till dinner–usually crackers and cheese, sometimes popcorn or frozen berries, and of course a glass of wine for Mama–and I've found that music helps as well.

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