A dinner ritual for our family is that we go around the table taking turns recounting our “highs and lows” for the day. You know, the best and worst things that took place that day. Our hope was that it might spur some lively conversation and provide some insight into how each child feels about their stage of life, current events, and of course, have the opportunity to rat out their siblings’ bad behavior and/or tell weird stories about their friends.
You might expect to hear something along the lines of, “Well, my ‘highs’ for the day included riding my bike, playing with Jo-Jo Marie – who told me that her dad passes gas when he’s watching TV – and having a dance party with Abbie. My ‘lows’ were cleaning my room and also…when Tanner wouldn’t let me play with his lightsaber!”
There have been some eyebrow raising discussions, of course, but for the most part, I’m beginning to see a pattern develop.
Becca, who is 2 years old, generally starts the discussion by reminding us about it. “Mom! Dad! Highsandlows! Highsandlows!” (Most anything Becca says includes exclamation points.) Then Becca will begin to give us not so much the stories of her “highs and lows,” but an itinerary of what she’s done that day. “Uhm, my highsandlows was, I eat breakfast…then I look at books…and my highandlows was, I played games with Connor…I made poops in the potty…and that’s Lucy, and I kiss Lucy, and she’s asleep, and that’s all!”
Next is Tanner, age 5, who rather indignantly states, “Don’t ask me what my highs and lows are. I’ve told you; don’t ask me. Every day is just fine. I like all my days. I don’t have ‘highs and lows.’” Then Katie will try to jump start it. “Well, what about when you played soccer in the backyard with Connor?” Then, with great conviction, “Yes. That was awesome. That was my high. But don’t ask me anything else.” So Katie strategically mentions all the things he’s done that day, item by item, and only then will Tanner admit that he had “highs and lows.”
Then it’s Roxanna’s turn. She’s 7. And as anticipated, Roxanna (possibly our pickiest eater) will look down at her plate and say, “Well my low is having to have two asparaguses…and kind of this salad, too…(then, moving her fork like a laser-pointer in a marketing presentation)…and my high is this chicken.”
Connor, age 9. Connor is a little more diverse, except that his list invariably includes Star Wars or Legos. But if he has watched a movie that day, it will always be listed as a ‘high.’ No matter how poor the movie. “My ‘high’ today was watching The Berenstein Bears and the Messy Room.” Me: “No, it wasn’t.” “Yes, it was.” “That could not have been your ‘high.’ Do we even own that movie?” “Yeah…I don’t know where we got it. It’s pretty lame. But that was my ‘high!’”
Garren, age 11. Garren is at a magical age where he still thinks that doing anything with his dad is cool. Whatever we’ve done together that day, Garren will list it as one of his ‘highs.’ “My ‘high’ was picking weeds with dad in the front yard. Then a gang of bikers came by – you should have seen them – they got off their bikes and waved knives in our faces – they stole our minivan out of the driveway – they graffiti’d the house – they threw beer bottles at us – one of the bottles hit me in the head. And Dad and I were like, “Whoa!” Those were my ‘highs’.”
Abbie, age 13. Abbie will genuinely share her “highs and lows.” Her dreams, her disappointments. Her hopes, her fears. But not her crushes. Some things are just not for public display.