Rounds are Better
Originally published on 3-23-11
My first memory of a kitchen table was wooden and oblong, not so bad, but with a family of 5 strong wills and opinions, an oblong shaped table implies heads and opposing sides. My mom, whether consciously or subconsciously, eventually upgraded and wisely purchased a smooth, round, strong wooden table.
It fit our family perfectly. With this new round table, there were no heads of the table, no opposing sides, everyone was on equal footing, and everyone had to look each other eye to eye.
One time my family (Mom, Dad, David, Carlos) and I were sitting at the kitchen table, enjoying a customary family dinner, some kind of salmon and Rice-a-Roni no doubt.
I had babbled all dinner long and my brothers hadn’t gotten a word in edgewise, and I hadn’t even noticed. Dinner was over and we walked our dishes to the sink. But before I escaped to my room my Dad asked me to sit back down and said, “It’s your responsibility to make sure everyone is included in the conversation.” I was probably in high school. I thought, “What, my responsibility?!” He said, “Yes.” Conversation finito.
It’s a metaphor for life, really. Everyone gets a chance, everyone gets a turn. Everyone deserves a shot to voice their thoughts and opinions. At the circle, everyone is respected.
A guest at our table should be prepared for:
· Taking too long of a breath between thoughts, one of us may jump in, so be quick.
· Unusually loud voices. We’re not yelling, we’re just loud.
· Good food and wine. (We’ve come a long way from Rice-a-Roni)
· Me doing what looks like a seal imitation (the animal, not Heidi’s husband).
· People to challenge your theories; no one gets a free pass.
And, please, always remember to bring the funny.
It was at that table where we learned to debate, defend our opinions, and open up to others people’s opinions. We also: ate, yelled, cried, laughed, imitated each other, recounted Dad’s high school football stories, and disagreed. Most importantly it was sitting around the table where we learned to communicate and where we learned that we (each of us in our individuality) deserved to be heard.
It was such a special table and still, I’m thankful we never had a formal dining room, the energy and experience I fear would have been different.