Monday, 2 June 2014

Meal times are for arguing.

Meal times are for arguing. You might think that's a bad thing, but I'm not so sure

Sitting down for dinner is special family time. We eat together every night at 7.00, unless there is a very good reason why we can't, like it's parents evening for one of the boys, or one of us is going out to a 'do'. 

I cook. Usually I begin cooking at 6.00. Meals are made from scratch and almost never from a recipe. Because I've been cooking for a family for more than 17 years now, every night, I have become inventive. Perhaps it is a lasagne, or a fish pie, or a roast chicken, always proper food, but more often that not it's something I've made up using the things I happen to have in the fridge, especially leftovers. Often these will emerge in a pie or as fritters or in a stir fry, their favourite...

This is the one time of day when all five of us are guaranteed to be together in the same room for at least half an hour and so this is when conversations happen and also, very often, when we argue. 

Lately there have been a lot of arguments, or perhaps it would be better to call them 'heated debates'. They are often began by something I have read in the paper and decide to share, or by Eldest, who tells us something he has read or something he has heard, or, more often than not, just something he thinks.

And recently, for fairly obvious reasons, politics has raised its head. I was going to say 'ugly head' but I am not one of those whose mantra is that all politics is boring and irrelevant and who declares emphatically, 'they are all the same anyway so what's the point'. 

I think being politically engaged, or at least aware, is a good thing. I want my children to know what is going on in the world around them and to form opinions based on information so that they can vote in elections, or at the very least decide not to vote in elections, because of things they believe. The worst thing by far would be for them to have no beliefs, no ideas, no passions. Political apathy is anathema to me.

And so lately we have argued about UKIP (even though we are all opposed) and immigration and what exactly constitutes racism and whether voting matters and how politics divides people and what exactly the Nazis stood for. Just the little trivial things, you understand. 

And although we don't all agree, and we rarely come to any firm conclusions, I hope that by arguing together as a family, in a safe environment around a dinner table, we are doing something that is valuable and helpful to these three boys, with their three very different developing minds, and that is making them think. As the famous philosopher and atheist Bertrand Russell once said: "Most people would rather die than think; many do."

Here is a recent stir fry. Always better to argue on a full stomach...

Love E x




  1. The Nazis stood for the common good before the individual good 'Gemeinnutz geht vor Eigennutz' as they put it, and even saying 'This is a German programme, and whoever follows it is a good German' as a noted Austrian Jewish economist pointed out around the time, no further proof was needed of the insincerity of their whole doctrine. Quite why anyone cares what they thought now, look at what they did. But did you know that the Nazis introduced a welfare state in the Czech lands that they seized in 1938?

    Politics is really about rewarding failure, and sometimes, penalising success, the Soviets being the pinnacle of this approach. If most politicians did not promise a higher standard of living to their supporters, then they would have little or nothing to say. A tweak to the tax system here, a subsidy there, a zoning change, all designed to change the world from how it is to how it ought to be in the eyes of a politician. Of course, if people could do it themselves, perhaps they would. Do they always need the middleman?

    What do you talk about at mealtimes? Dinnah.

  2. I think we need you at the dinner table Ed. Or maybe not, it might get even more explosive. I think I'll leave you lot all arguing and nip off down the pub - where I've just got involved in a debating group all Bardeblah. Out of the frying pan...