If You Stick It on the Dining Room Table, They Will Use It
Have you seen my dining room table? (You know, like, before COVID...) It is quite a sight. A good percentage of it is covered with paint, marker, glitter, colored pencil, hot glue, and more. Since COVID, graffiti has also popped up, including "Tallulah Likes Cake" in black sharpie. We rarely enjoy an actual dinner or any other meal on this table, because it's typically full of art and projects of all kinds. From where I sit in the next room, I spy a large mirror frame that needs to be fixed, a half-finished clay fairy world, and several rocks in various stages of being painted.
I have often yearned for a dining room table at which I and my family actually dine. It is a yearning, in part, for normalcy, a wish for something that feels like what "normal families" have and do. But of course, we should always be careful what we wish for, and today I was reminded of this nugget of wisdom. Here is the story of how I came to be thankful that we do not have a normal dining room table.
A week or so ago, Rick announced that he was going to put one of his manual typewriters on our dining room table, in the hopes that our kids would use it. In typical Rick fashion, he outdid himself, with not one, not two, but THREE typewriters! As I write, there is one on the table and two on the floor next to the table. His timing was endearingly typical of us, in that the machines landed in the dining room just as one of my Normalcy Yearnings was ramping up: I had been eyeing the dining room longingly for the last couple of days, plotting to finally and yet again clean it, organize it, transform it into a place where people eat their meals and give thanks to the chef and then get up and cheerfully do all their chores without even a reminder. So I had that moment -- perhaps familiar to some of you -- where you like an idea your partner has suggested, but it means you won't get to make your idea a reality, at least not for awhile, and so you just sort of roooooollll with it. I rolled. I like typewriters. I like my kids. I love Rick. So yeah, sure, let's put a typewriter on the dining room table and see what happens.
What happened was this: after threatening for days to become another place for mail and dust to collect, today the typewriter got its moment to shine: Tallulah decided to learn how to type. As with All Things Tallulah, there were many questions: "How do you put the paper in?" "How do you do capital letters?" "Can I make it type in different colors?" "Can you come get my hair out of this round thingee where the paper goes?" (At least she got to learn the word platen!)
Once her head was no longer stuck in the machine and she had the basics down, her imagination began to flow and her fingers started to dance on the keys. In no time at all, she had a story! I am proud to present her breakthrough type-written work, entitled, simply: RICK.
I'm sure that's hard to read, so here's the text, exactly as typed:
This story is Called : RICK
By tallulah Alatorre
There once was a little man named rick. He love d food, poetry, his five kids (although he loved his youngest the most) books, art, soccer, and so much more. HE was really really really short.
P.S. His shortness was charming.
That right there is straight up literary art, and today I love my dining room table and the creativity that emerges from it, and I don't care if I never eat another meal there if it means I can have more of this fabulosity in my life. I say PFFFT to yearning for normalcy, and YAY to embracing the little wierdnesses of my family, and I say we are all weird and that is as it should be.
Also, if you would like to try a little experiment of your own: Put stuff out. Leave it there. And watch what happens. Perhaps one day, your experiment will bring you great delight.
Enjoy more bounty from our table:
And yes, I have a tablecloth that works nicely for the very rare holiday meal where I make everyone sit down to eat and they all look at each other like I'm conducting some weird psych experiment and no one knows how to act.