I declared Sunday nights as family nights this summer. After all, Grace is getting ready to leave for college and the boys hang out with their friends most nights of the week. I wasn't expecting a night with the Walton family, but apparently, my expectations were a little high.
We started with a family dinner of chicken and vegetables on the grill. Normally, it would have been shish kebab, but we skipped the sticks. So with a bowl of grilled chicken and a bowl overflowing with zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions and carrots on the table, Tucker declared himself not hungry and refused to eat. He sipped on a glass of water and pondered whether he could add mint syrup to it. I vetoed that idea since he wasn't even eating dinner. He informed me he didn't like shish kebab. What's not to like about chicken? And I know he eats carrots. I didn't argue though, just made him turn forward and get his elbows off the table. He had spent the night at a friend's house so I wrote off his bad behavior to tiredness.His silence and refusal to eat as he sat sullenly at the table pulled a wet blanket over the beginning of family night.
After dinner, we chose a game to play. Since it was father's day, we let Earl choose poker. It wasn't Texas hold em, but five card draw and five card stud with a few hands of black jack thrown in. I couldn't find the poker chips, so used these colorful plastic tokens that the kids sorted when they were little. We started with 25 and I quickly lost all of mine, so we added some more.
As Tucker won a few hands, his mood improved. As Grace lost every hand, she grew morose.
"Why can't we play euchre?" she asked. She listed other card games she would be willing to play -- Egyptian ratscrew, spoons. To no avail.
The poker continued. She said it didn't bother her to lose, she just hated that it all seemed to be about the luck of the cards instead of skill. I suppose the skill is a little more subtle than in a card game like euchre.
As they got into the game, the guys put on their poker faces. Some more successful than others.
Finally, the pain of the poker game finished and we took up Spencer's suggestion to walk downtown for ice cream. Of course, I told Tucker he couldn't have any since he hadn't eaten dinner. He wanted to stay on the couch and watch TV. Nope. I told him he had to come along. He spent several minutes explaining in a condescending voice why this was not logical, stupid even. But since I was walking to the ice cream store and not planning to get any ice cream, I was not swayed by his arguments.
Thus began the three-quarter mile walk to the ice cream shop, where the line on this sweltering father's day was out the door. Tucker had a gift certificate to the store and he had walked with Earl part of the way, so I knew that the two of them had hatched a plan that allowed him to buy the ice cream himself and eat it. I decided not to fuss about it. The point wasn't about who would pay; it was about eating healthier. At 14, those points get lost in the fog of adolescence.
Grace came out with a waffle cone with a dip of chocolate and mint. Spencer had a trio, three small scoops of different flavors. He'd ordered Buckeye and Belgian chocolate then "I panicked," he admitted. The pressure of ordering ice cream with the long line waiting behind him made him choose strawberry as his third scoop. He didn't regret it, he said. Earl came out with a scoop of goat cheese and sour cherry. Hmmm. My favorite ice cream from this shop that specializes in strange flavors like salty caramel and thai chili.
When we got home, we decided to choose a "movie on demand." That's a movie that is out on video, but when we order it from home, the cost goes on our cable bill. Grace and Spencer voted for Youth in Revolt while Tucker pushed for The Blind Side. We erred in the favor of the majority. Spencer kept saying, "I thought it would be funnier." It was pretty raunchy with pictures of sexual positions floating out of books and sex tips between 16-year-olds. Tucker headed to the basement. I decided to abandon family night and Grace was right behind me. Earl and Spencer made it through the end of the movie. I'm glad it only cost $4.99 for that mistake.
Next week, we'll try family night again. Maybe I'll order pizza. Everyone likes that. Now to come up with a game everyone can agree on.
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