Family Gene-ius: Around the Table

Family Gene-ius: Around the Table

Shreya Shankar

My family dinner, full of protein and knowledge.

Image I've learned a lot of life lessons at the dinner table – many of them when I was young enough to not actually remember what I was learning. I was a fairly normal baby, weighing in at a little over six and a half pounds. Unfortunately, I became what I can only describe as quite a “chubster” baby. My mom swears it was just baby fat, and I'd have to agree, but it seemed like there was something a little different about me. Did anyone else have pants that would only make it up to their mid-calves because they had a little “baby fat”? I don't think so.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not ashamed of how much I weighed when I was a baby. In fact, I'm quite proud of my overzealous appetite as a small child. I ate baby food until I was about eight months old – and then I was introduced to the big kahuna: adult food. My mom will happily regale me with the stories of how I would sit in my high chair at a little less than a year old, with no teeth but “very strong gums,” and snatch at everything in my sight. I never seemed to want any food that was actually designated for me – which means that yes, the grass is always greener on the other side, even when you're an infant. My arms would continuously wave as I leaned forward in my high chair, trying my best to see if I could actually get out to crawl around the table and go for the gold. This was also when I learned another very valuable life lesson (little did I know at the time) – if you try hard enough, you can get what you want.

I don't know if my parents appeased me and gave me whatever food I was asking for because I was cute, or because I was persistent – let's just assume it was a nice mix of both. But regardless, it worked. There are definitely a lot of things you can't control in life, but then there are the things you can control. Sometimes things aren't so obvious, and we don't think we have as much control as we truly do, and that's where the beauty of innocence comes in. As a baby, I had no real rights to request adult food over baby food – heck, I probably should have waited until I had teeth to start eating the food the rest of my family was eating. I was an adventurous baby – I wanted what I couldn't have, and that hasn't changed much from when I was a toddler.

If you know what you want (in my case as a baby, the adult food), it might not be the smartest idea to begin your quest for it by throwing pudgy fists up in the air a la babies. After all, every situation is different – doesn't mean you have less of a chance to get what you want, it just means that the real smartness comes in how you approach getting what you want. Asking Mom about going out to a certain party may be a better idea than asking Dad the same question, right?

If my family dinners were that educational at such a young age, I can't help but wonder just how much I can learn from them at this point in my life when I'm a (somewhat) mature young woman with better conversational skills than just drooling or constantly grabbing things. As a college-bound senior, I've made it a priority to start spending more time with my family, and that starts with family dinner. Like Nickelodeon constantly advertises, families who eat dinner together stay together. I'm convinced that family dinners hold a lot of secrets and knowledge about life, so I'm taking it upon myself to dig deep to find out what family dinners can do for you. And hey, worst case scenario? Family dinners are just that – family dinners. At least you get a good meal and great company out of it.