From the morning when K hides behind a cereal box fort, and B drinks tea until he feels awake enough to take a really long shower, my kitchen table (the only table) goes through a lot.
M and K clear it off after breakfast while I’m swimming – at least they are supposed to do that before watching any cartoons on PBSkids.
In the 3 minutes before I call all three kids to the kitchen for devotions, a poetry reading, prayer, and a hymn, I lay out piles of the books, manipulatives, notebooks and pencils in the approximate places M and K will sit. It looks messy, but it’s my reminder of what to do, and they are often in the top to bottom order I will need them.
If I haven’t put the things away as I’m done with them (I’m beginning to teach M to take charge of this own notebooks and stuff), they have to scoot away at 11 so we can go outside if we are going to manage it (lately, not so much) and get ready for lunch.
Sometimes I remember to ask the boys to tidy up the table after lunch, sometimes I do it after nap time as I heat water for coffee.
Then the table serves as prep place for dinner, if it isn’t a play space for art projects and play doh.
When we moved in, I was alarmed that Dan wanted to eat lunch at home (the lab is only 6 blocks away). I’d like the flexibility of feeding Ben when he seemed hungry, not exactly at noon. Back then I thought 3 meals was a lot of transformations for one table to go through, and I ran out of steam for photographing the table through supper that day.
Dan’s lab is moving about 15 miles away this Spring. It’s not really that far, but the way the roads go, it will take upwards of 20min to drive. I’m going to buy him a cool lunchbox, and try to cook a bit extra at dinner for easily packed meals, I’ve got a PlanetBox picked out already. But the prospect of a day without Dan’s cheerful whistle at the door at lunchtime sounds lonely, even with shopping budgeted for cool stuff.