Friday, January 18, 2013

Family Dinner Confessional

All great change in America begins at the dinner table. 
-Ronald Reagan

I can't remember a time in my life when I wasn't worried that my parents would find out something I had done.  I didn't tell them until I was twelve that my sister hadn't fallen off the couch before her first ambulance ride and that I had pushed her.  (I had just learned the definition of statue of limitations.)  I was 30 when I had to confess to my dad that I could still jump from our garage roof to the tree.    My mom is a nurse and my dad is an O.S.H.A. investigator, so there wasn't a risk I could take, or a game I could invent that they couldn't tell me how someone lost an eye, or bled out slowly or was never seen again.  In order to stay ahead of the teachers, neighbors, policemen and us, they had to get a little creative.  In future blogs, you'll hear about how my mom lied to me to convince me to never lie again, how the local police force and store owners stopped telling me when I was in trouble so that they could tell my parents instead and how punishments designed to rebuild trust made me never trust anyone again, but today we're going to talk about something I jokingly call "The Last Suppers."

To this day, the Last Supper is still practiced at my parents' house when I'm visiting.  Mom and Dad made a rule that anything we "voluntarily" confessed to at the dinner table would not have consequences. It would be discussed calmly as a family about why it was wrong and how it should be handled the next time and then mostly forgotten about assuming that you told the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  The dinner table at the Anderson household always included a show.   My friends still come over to watch and tell on me so that I have to squirm through the discomfort.

On our last visit, I told my parents how I had used a ladder to jump through a second story window, that I hadn't gone to the doctor to get my bump checked out like I was supposed to and how I might have forgotten to register the license plates for the car that my dad had cosigned for ten years ago and had a hold on his license for.     I was told how unsafe what I had done was, how my bump might be cancerous and how paying 55 dollars would keep my dear old pops out of court.   But, I still got prime rib roast and baked potatoes and a clear conscience.

Having a child of my own and almost 200 employees, I see the genius of The Last Supper. I get to prepare myself to teach right from wrong by knowing that someone is coming to tell me something I might not like as opposed to having a poor reaction when I'm surprised that these kids are doing all the same stupid things that I did.  I get to educate versus intimidate, correct versus discover and most importantly encourage them to address problems versus hide from them or struggle.

It's in the spirit of this, that we bring you our latest promotion $5 pizza night at Chaos and Action City.  Sure, we hope you play the games or swim in the water park, but we hope you take the time you would normally put into making a dinner into sitting a the table and talking as a family over a 17 inch pizza.  If you struggle with getting the conversation going you can use my mom's tip:  Always confess something that their father did to get in trouble to get them comfortable.

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