We routinely share family meals. As an important component of this communion, each of us is expected to distill the events of the day into an update for those gathered. With both of our children, there was a noted progression as they came to understand the mechanics of how to communicate and why it is so very important in human relationships. As Carolyn and I would share the day’s travails, we would routinely turn to the growing boys seated with us and look to them to contribute their own comments to the conversation.
Amusingly, they failed to fully comprehend that we were speaking of events that had actually occurred during the day and that we were not making up bed-time stories. Our eldest would tell wild stories replete with sound effects and animated countenance of his adventures with dragons. When the younger son grew to the same age, he made use of a similar storytelling technique, but his tales were based in near-fact. He imagined things that might have, but didn’t, happen which led to all sorts of fun – and some household confusion. With the passage of time, they came to understand that the goal was to share actual information and not to entertain with a yarn; and while we have missed the news of pterodactyl attacks, we have settled into a solid pattern of give-and-take.
“How was your day?” is more than a polite exchange. We are each, to the best of our ability, responsible for communicating. As the kids grew old enough to invite friends to join us for a family meal, their unsuspecting compadres were, in their turn, expected to share their own news. Some initially struggled. Eventually, all came to appreciate the attention – and interest – of the adults at the table. And, we enjoyed it, too.