Life with 3 children is high energy. Life with 3 fringy kids is CRAZY high energy. All of these children of mine experience life more intensely. And, if I’m being honest, I have to admit that my husband and I do, too. All this intensity can be a lot of fun. When we do something fun or exciting, we do it BIG. The Boormans don’t know itty bitty kinda-sorta fun. We know FUN and jump up and down flapping your hands EXCITEMENT!! Aside from the fact that these intense energies can also be overwhelming, and aside from the fact that these intensities can trigger meltdowns, there is another downside to this intensity. Namely . . . dinner.
I don’t know about your house, but at my house, here’s how dinner generally goes:
Me: OK – time to eat!
KBear: random noises (touching everything on the way to the table)
Chimp: (running from across the room and diving into his chair) Yippee! I LOVE dinner! I love you mom! Oh, gross, I don’t like (fill in the blank, basically anything and everything we make for dinner). Can I go watch sumfink?
Cub: (5 minutes later as he makes his way to the table with the speed of a sloth) So, I was thinking about Pokemon. And I. . . blah blah blah blahCharmander . . . . blah blah blah blah Darkrai . . .
Me: OK – Cub. Just pause the conversation for a second. Who’s going to pray?
All 3: I will! No, I will!
Me: Chimp, go.
Chimp: Rub dub dub thanks grub.
KBear: (simultaneously while Chimp is praying) some sort of pterodactyl sound
Chimp: KBear! I was pwaying!
KBear: pterodactyl sound
Chimp: I’m not hungwy, can I get down? (as he’s climbing off his chair)
Me: No, Chimp, it’s dinner time, you’re staying here.
Chimp: melodramatic cry as he climbs halfway back up the chair, but then decides to hang over it backwards.
Meanwhile, Cub continues his conversation about Pokemon through it all.
KBear: I no like!
Now at this point, you might be wondering just where in the world Jon is. Either, it’s one of our many solo parenting nights, or, he’s mumbling to himself about how nobody appreciates his cooking, can’t we just get some bloody peace and quiet, and why does he even try.
Me: KBear – you can’t touch the food on other people’s plates. KBear please chew with your mouth closed. Cub, ahh, so that’s what Wigglypuff’s powers do. Chimp, you need to sit on your bum.
KBear: (scream!) It’s MY turn to talk!
Chimp: No – I wanna talk.
Cub & Jon: (eye rolls and sighs)
Me: OK – Kbear, go.
KBear: Wanna know somefink? At lunch today. . .
KBear: (Scream!) Chimp! It’s my turn!
Me: Chimp, wait your turn. KBear be kind, please.
KBear: Wanna know somefink? At lunch today . . .
KBear: (UGH!!) CHIMP!!!!
Chimp: What? (feigning innocence)
Jon: Chimp . . . shush.
Me: Go on KBear.
KBear: Wanna know somefink? At lunch . . .
Cub, Jon, and I: Chimp! Hush!
KBear loses it and throws her fork at chimp.
Cub sees his opportunity and starts in on another 15 minute long diatribe about his favorite youtube channels. I turn off my ears, hang my head and wish I was anywhere but the dinner table.
Yes, all family dinners can be high energy. But, fringy family dinners can be crazy-making and tend to end (at least in my household) with someone storming off in tears or a rage or a meltdown. Not only are all 3 kids vying for talking time, but all 3 kids are also impulsive, AND it’s the end of the day when 2 of the kids are simply over-done and tired.
Here is a tip that I’ve found extremely helpful. Especially on the days when I don’t have the energy to play referee.
We play games at the dinner table. Not board games, usually, because those also tend to result in storming tears or rages. We will break out Headbanz or Yahtzee on occasion. Or pass the pigs. More often, we do talky type of games. Some of our favorites include:
20 questions, I spy, cooperative storytelling (where one person says one sentence and then the next person continues the story with a second sentence and so on around the table), name that tune, name a song that has the word ____ in it, 1 minute speeches (everyone gives a 1 minute speech on the same topic – the topic can be anything – just look around and name the first thing you see!)
We’ve also recently had fun downloading party game apps onto my phone and playing those, like catchphrase, 3in5 (where you have to name 3 items that fit a category within 5 seconds – we make it easier for KBear and Chimp and just have KBear name 2 and Chimp name 1), Taboo, Trivia games.
And, we’ve also had fun with conversation starter question books that ask questions like “if you won a million dollars what would you do with it?” or 30 second mystery books.
Essentially, the more structure I add to the evening meal, the less craziness and anger that explodes (usually). I’d love to simply sit down and have a great conversation with my fringy family, but I’m learning that those great conversations tend to be more successful and be prompted more often when they can be in the midst of some type of structure. Sure, I’m still having to be referee on occasion or help KBear re-set, and I will ALWAYS have to remind Chimp to sit or stand in his spot, but, for the most part, our fringy intensities end up channeled in a similar direction instead of in the colliding mess of craziness that dinner can otherwise be.