Paris Taught Me

I'm sitting alone at a small table in Cafe de Flore drinking the best hot chocolate ever. All the outdoor tables are filled, so I'm inside with a view of the entire restaurant. The waiters are weaving in and out of the narrow paths as they deliver coffee, tea, and take orders.  All the chairs and tables are arranged facing the street for optimal people watching.   The people sitting in the cafe look so relaxed, it's as if they are watching TV.  Most of the people have drinks on their table. They are not reading a book, working on their laptops, or even talking to the person they came to the cafe with. One waiter is walking towards the kitchen with dirty plates on his tray, he greets a couple and directs them to sit next to me with his one free arm. They sit down and look out the window. There's silence between the couple. It's not a cold silence, but a silence that can only come from being so familiar with each other. They order drinks. Then coffee. Then food.  And eat slowly.

As much as I want to, I can't identify with this couple sitting next to me and their approach to eating. Isn't it a lovely thought though? In two days, I'll be flying back to NYC and I know exactly who I'm going to turn into as soon as dinner time approaches: that Parisian Waiter. Serving food. Getting ordered around by people who can barely speak the language in complete sentences. Weaving in and out the narrow paths of toys throughout the kitchen.  Carrying up dirty dishes.

How can I feel more like the Parisians during dinner? And less like a waiter? Here's my ideas:

1. Be hungry. I have to test the food as I cook but most of the time I eat way too much. By the time the kids sit down, I'm already full. The need to sit with them is lost. The kids see that I'm not sitting down, so they assume I'm their waiter.  More milk please mommy! More Mac and Cheese Mommy... please! I need a spoon. Now. please.

2. Eat slowly.  It's late in the day, the kids are ticking time bombs, they're hungry. The thought of slowing down dinner time in any form might be a horrible idea some nights. I'll scratched this idea for now.

3. Be ok with silent when we eat. It's rare, but sometimes the kids do actually do eat in silence. When this rarely happens I usually start checking my email on my iphone.  But if the Parisians taught me anything, it's the art of being silent together with out any distractions. No books, papers, or laptops. Just food, people, and drinks.

Do you ever feel like a waiter during dinner time? How do you make dinner more enjoyable?


  1. I also eat really fast from being a mom. Even when I go out by myself, it's hard for me to really take my time because for so many years I've been the mom at dinner who has cater to everyone else. One thing that helps in our house though is when I make dinner, I leave everything on or by the stove, make up everyone's plates (including mine) and then put it on the table at the same time as theirs. This buys a little time before they run out of that beloved mac and cheese...

  2. I feel completely like a waiter. It seems like the SECOND I sit down Trenton is demanding something or Chase is squawking for something else. One thing I try to do that helps is put everything I need on the table at once. I do what Jeannine does and dish everyone's plates, but I'm also careful to make sure everyone has utensils, milk, salt/pepper—whatever they could need. I only actually do this like half the time, but it always helps!

  3. i can totally identify with 1 and 2 ... it sounds like you have a good plan--i really enjoy your writing.

  4. Wow, I love your new profile picture! So cute.

  5. Why can't you serve dinner the way we served dinner when you and the two other brats were kids? D

  6. love this post. so glad you had such a great time. keep it up.

  7. Just did a little catching up. I loved this and the last few posts as well. I'd love to hear more about Paris. It sounds wonderful the way you did it!

  8. I love this story. I am having a great time reading your blog this Saturday morning. I have a topic about eating dinner with my family under moments on my blog. We cherish this small amount of time together. Yes silence is great on some nights, as long as we are all together and well.



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