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The Spence Family Dinner Orchestra

Warning: If you are a fan of violins, flutes, trumpets, and such, then this orchestra is NOT for you.

Clockwise from left: Kamari, Imani, Niara, Kiserian, and Khari (BBB)

I grew up in a traditional family — we ate our meals together and had to say "Yes, Ma'am" or "Sir" and ask to be excused from the table. I figured I'd do the same when I had kids. Technically, everyone in my family could have dinner together: My mother bought us a kitchen set that seats six and BBB is still in the high chair (not for long though). And yet...

I do not eat dinner with my children. There, the truth is out.

The thing is, I like a little quiet when I eat. In fact, I like a lot of quiet when I eat. And I like to sit and chew my food before I swallow.

Plus, most of my dinner preparations are interrupted by my oldest son Kamari and his followers staging small kitchen coups to overthrow my meal choices: "Mommy, I really hope we can make brownies for dessert since we're having to eat kale." Call me a pushover, but if you think I can resist their pressure, please consider: I run my home business for 3 or 4 hours in the evening AFTER having taught school all day and raced around the world for every appointment and activity. I'm too beat down to fight.

Anyway, on Mother's Day, I decided to take a risk.

"Mommy, you're going to eat at the table with us! REALLY!" (My Love Machine Kiserian always wants the family to be together, even when Dad's at work.)

Reluctantly, timidly, I replied: "Yes, honey, I'm going to sit at the dinner table with you."

Immediately Kiserian jumped up and did something resembling a funky end-zone dance but with more butt up in the air and a scooting backward motion. I wanted to leave the table then. But I stuck it out.

And then they were off:

"Mommy, I want a mystic morpher for my birthday." (Kiserian)

"Why should you get a new one? You didn't keep up with the last one." (Kamari)

"Kamari, why are you so mean? He was talking to Mommy." (Imani)

"I'm mad because my birthday is in July. Mommy, you don't ever care about my birthday." (Niara)

I don't know how to describe it other than sheer, controlled chaos. Seventeen simultaneous conversations along with a cacophony of noise, a human orchestra erupting into sound:

POOF! (a popular noise and smell that Kiserian made through out dinner)

SMACK! (Imani hitting Kiserian on the back because she was offended by the POOF)

BURP! (which Niara found so amusing that, after a demonstration by Kamari, she used the sound to make a little song)

SLURP! (the baby had never had Kool-Aid before, and he decided to slurp it out of the cup: "Ummm...good mommy. Juice good")

CRASH! (My personal favorite, performed by both Niara and Kiserian when they fell out of their chairs because they couldn't control their laughter).

Interspersed with serious conversation:

"Honey, this is the thigh not the breast" — (this is me, explaining to Dr. Spence) — "See it's connected to the leg like our legs and thighs are connected."

"Mommy, farmers should give their chickens massages to relieve the toxins from their bones." (Imani)

"Daddy, see Mommy's eating with us and she's not dead." (this from Kamari, after Dr Spence alluded to the possibility that eating at the table would cause him to choke from the utter foolishness and then die.)

BBB rounded out the evening by singing Crazy Car by the Naked Brothers Band. It sounded kinda like Scooby Doo would sing it: "Rayzy Rar!"

So I don't eat dinner with my family. Can you blame me?