[NOTE: I asked Brooks if he would make a guest entry in my blog and he so graciously complied with the following entry. — Jenny]
Every family has their quirks—you know, those little things they do that would irritate, disturb, or disgust anyone else. Some people save used dental floss or tin foil. Others put plastic on their couch. And some people are nut-jobs.
One of our friends works for the county health department, and sometimes we offer him dinner for health horror stories. One of our favorites involves a family that had nearly a dozen children, kept 40+ cats, 20+ dogs, and had no working toilet in their house—so they just pooped in the tub. Oh yeah—and the father was a counselor in the bishopric of their LDS ward. (Ward members often complained how the kids showed up for church with animal feces on their clothes.)
Now, I’m sure their family just thought their lifestyle was a little “quirky.” But in my view, if your “quirk” motivates neighbors to call the state because they think you have a meth lab due to the overpowering scent of ammonia—but it turns out you just have 40+ cats urinating in your house instead—that’s not a “quirk.” That’s a health hazard. And its why my friend has a Hazmat suit.
So, given that background, I’d say our family isn’t too bad in the quirk department. Our quirks are more along the lines of…oh, I dunno…décor. Take the kitchen table.
If you’ve been to our humble abode, you’ve noticed it. Or even sat at it. And you probably didn’t say anything. But for those of you who haven’t visited, let’s just say that it isn’t much of a table. It’s actually a kids table made by Ikea that we picked up from Jenny’s sister years ago (who had painted it bright blue before handing it down to us). Jenny thought it would be perfect for a kids craft table or kids dinner table when other families visited. At the time, our kitchen table was kind of a bar-thing with two stools. And since our kitchen space is like a highway off-ramp—all traffic all the time—the bar worked nicely because it was out of the way, up against the wall.
But then our kids outgrew their highchairs. And a table with backless bar stools is not a good solution for toddlers. It’s just not. So we sold the bar-table-thing at a yard sale, and Jenny refinished the kids table to match the kitchen cabinets. But despite best intentions, the chairs remain blue to this day.
We do have another table. It’s an “antique” with folding leaves, and we bust it out for our formal affairs in the front room. But because it doesn’t really fit in our kitchen, we started eating with our kids at their table. At the time, this was supposed to be temporary. But like so many other things in life, it has become permanent on a temporary basis.
Don’t get me wrong: I want a table. Very much so. And Jenny and I have had conversations, drawn diagrams, and even chalked in some lines on the slate floor to determine if and where we could place an island, or put a space-saving Ikea piece, etc. There has been discussion, debate, exploration, and items added to online shopping carts, but to this date, there is no adult-sized table in our kitchen.
The thing about quirks is that most people either don’t know or don’t understand the motivations behind them. Why do these people still have a tiny kitchen table? Is it because they’re lazy? Poor? Lacking taste? Weird? Sure, it’s all of those things. But its also because we discovered that there’s something special about eating dinner eye-to-eye with our kids in such a way that we’re connecting to their world rather than the other way around. That little table has some strange, wobbly magic in it that has bound us together in very close proximity. And it’s wonderful.
Now, having said that, has anybody seen any good space-saving kitchen tables? Because I’m tired of slamming my knees on the corners.