Spring 2012: "Eating Together" Middle School Winner Kate LeBlanc

Read Kate's essay about lessons learned at the table.
Family dinner photo for Writing Lessons.jpg

Photo by Patrick Barber

Kate LeBlanc, a student of Marcia Thomas at Metro Montessori Middle School in Portland, Oregon, read and responded to the YES! Magazine article, "You Are Who You Eat With," by Katherine Gustafson. She is our Middle School winner for the Spring 2012 writing competition.

Writing prompt: "Does it matter who you eat with and how often you eat together?"


Dinner Table Matters


How many times a week do you eat with your family? One, two, maybe three? Why is this? In the “olden” days everyone ate together. Though our hectic culture allows little time with our families, who you eat with and how often you eat together is important in these busy times. Parents have work, kids have school and homework. Without scheduling a specific time, families might not get together much. There is no better time and place to be together than at the dinner table.

American culture can be very rushed and consumer-oriented. Everyone wants to buy the newest, coolest stuff. To do this, you need money—and this creates pressure to make money. With the economy down, some parents have to work two jobs to support their families and don’t have the time to eat a sit-down meal. We speed through life and sometimes become oblivious to the things that matter—like family. The traditional ritual of sharing a meal with your family has been replaced by meals to go. Why cook dinner—which would take a long time—when you can go to McDonald’s, buy one, eat it in five minutes, and be on your way? And have you heard of TV dinners? TV dinners are the best. There’s no prep time with your family in the kitchen!

The gap between adults and children has widened. As families spend less time together because of work and other commitments, relationships are lost. Children and teens need guidance from their parents as they go through childhood and adolescence. They learn almost everything from their parents—a lot of it by example— and they value what their parents have to say. So when kids see their parents adopt a hurried lifestyle, they think that this is the right way to live. I feel that making time for family is an important value to hand down to the next generation.

Cathy Garcia-Prats, an author mentioned in the YES! Magazine article, “You Are Who You Eat With,” says that dinner “lets us have an opportunity to share our day, be part of each others’ lives.” Sharing is a cherished part of my family’s dinner. We each have a chance to talk about our day and share funny stories or things that we learned. In our family of six, life is often busy with all of our different activities. The dinner table is one place that we can all be together without having to rush. It provides a way to connect and relate to each other’s day.

My family connects at the dinner table with games. One of our favorites is a boxed set of cards, each with a different challenge, like, “How many presidents can you name?” We pick a new card every night. My little sister especially enjoys them. We often hear her cry, “Let’s play a dinner game!” Games at dinner have connected us and stimulated discussion. I have learned cool things about my parents, like the fact that my dad used to work in a video arcade.

For me, eating with my family provides an essential part of what it means to be a family. We connect through stories and conversations about happiness and troubles. The dinner table is the perfect place to share. It is a great place to solve problems. My family has had countless discussions from current events to science to recent movies. Though our family, like others, has a life with some clutter and crazy, busy schedules, my parents have always made sure that we are all together for dinner. What better place to slow down the rush, close the generation gap, and share, than the family dinner table? The dinner table matters. Besides, where else would I have learned the names of all 44 presidents?!

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