Tonight it was just Alex and me at dinner. At first I felt a little lonely, because even though Alex is a great conversationalist, his vocab's a bit limited, and I'd had a tiring day and could have used a little grown-up discourse. But I quickly realized how precious it was, that one-on-one time with my boy. So I put on Nick's Loretta Lynn/Patsy Cline mix cd and serenaded Alex with "Crazy" and "Coal Miner's Daughter" while steaming dumplings and heating up pureed pears. When we sat down, I started feeding Alex using a little baby spoon, but he immediately noticed that I was eating with chopsticks and showed great interest (he loves to "pretend" to eat what we're eating; if I'm drinking from a glass, I'll put it up to his mouth and he'll sort of mock-sip from it--I don't think he knows yet that he's not actually "drinking" from it). I put down the baby spoon and started feeding him with the chopsticks. I even gave him a couple little bites of the dumpling stuffing, since it was mostly vegetables anyway. He loved it! It was a great dinner.
Before I had a baby, I thought eating dinner regularly at the table was going to be such a struggle, because we'd never had structured dinners before. I knew I wanted to start eating at the table when we had a family because it's so healthy for kids (and adults, for that matter). But I remember even avoiding eating at the table right before Alex was born because I wanted to squeeze in my last few "dinners in front of the TV" before I had to start worrying about being a role model. Now that Alex is around (and eating solids—though we actually started eating together even back when he was only nursing), I find I really love and look forward to our mealtimes. And, as I'm learning, I had completely unnecessarily high expectations of what went into a "family dinner." I've learned that a good family dinner doesn't have to have the whole family in full attendance. It doesn't have to be some great meal with all four food groups (heck, you can get by with one and it still works). It doesn't even have to last all that long. All that matters is that you're sharing a little bit of time together each day.
What's really amazing is that I can tell that even at 6 months old, Alex already enjoys these times at least as much as I do! And our conversation must have been pretty darn good, because by the end of the meal, I no longer felt the need to blah-blah-blather on about my day at work.