My husband and I made all the usual sorts of mistakes that new parents make with my son. Giving into tantrums, encouraging him to believe he was the center of the universe, picking up after him, and tragically and worst of all- letting him eat dinner on a tray in front of the video player.
Incidentally, all the same sorts of mistakes I had made when I finally had a dog of my own. The difference between dog #1 (Loki, who slept on and in my bed with the covers tucked in under her darling chin) and dog #2 (Lulu, who slept on a cushion on the floor) was marked. Lulu was much the better-behaved dog although she spent a lot of her time trying to get on the bed and the couch, mostly because my husband gave her mixed signals and consistently undermined my authority.
Anyway, child #2, Lucy, sits at the table with us at meals and really enjoys throwing her food on the floor for the dog and smearing hummus in her hair. And I figured once Milo heard the childish peals of joy and energetic conversation emanating from the dining room he would rejoin us. But that hasn’t happened yet. Nothing can draw him away from the delights of a movie and dinner on a tray. He usually pops in to visit us and tell us or ask us something during the course of the meal, but he is adamant about not wanting to sit at the table. I don’t know why. He does his homework there, he works on his dinosaur models and his maps and his mazes there. He has had birthday cake at that table but his fish fingers are eaten on the recliner.
So here is my clever plan.
I am going to start reading aloud at the table. I know some people frown on books at the table (Feltus’s mother for one) but we are not of that ilk. And I think my parents were ok with it too although I may be misremembering this. My husband and I usually have a stack of books near at hand and after we’ve caught up on the important happenings of the day, we often bury our noses. I tend to eat more slowly if I have a book which is good for my digestion.
So much like the monks who rotate reading from the bible while they consume their repast in silence -well actually, it won’t really be like that at all. I’m hoping it will be fun and interactive and it will lure Milo out of the sitting room to listen, and slowly but surely he’ll come ever closer until he is sitting next to me. Chapter books with lots of cliffhangers are key. He’s 6 but his comprehension is mature. I thought ‘The Tale of Despereaux’ by Kate DiCamillo would be the perfect book to begin my 1001 nights of story-telling with. Anyone else have any suggestions?


  1. Oh it’s working great! Three nights in a row so far, and he is totally enmeshed in the story. I read about three chapters a night. It makes it hard to eat and talk without having my mouth full but it’s worth it to have him sitting at the table with us.
    Any thoughts on another book like Despereaux? Short chapters, gripping?

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