All set
Setting the table is a household chore many of us know well. I don’t recall how old I was when I started doing chores, but I do I remember being the designated table setter in my family. Each night while my mom cooked dinner, I’d ask her what we needed. “Plates, bowls, knives, forks, and spoons,” she invariably responded. As I think back now, I can even picture the different dishes we had over the years. My favorite one had Peter Rabbit on it. It was just an old plastic plate left over from my infancy, but I loved it. I still remember the day it dropped as my mom was getting the dishes down from the cupboard. It slid off the pile of Corell plates she was about to hand to me and shattered on the counter. Somehow I wasn’t the least bit upset, but my mom broke into tears. Now that I’m a mother, I know why.


Earlier this year, I dropped the Hello Kitty plate I had bought for my daughter when she stated to eat solid foods. It was nothing but an inexpensive plastic plate, but it held memories, just like that old Peter Rabbit plate did for my mom. My daughter’s pink polka dotted kitty plate made her smile each time she used it, and in some ways, it also reconnected me to my own younger years. I sobbed the day it slipped out of my hands and broke apart on the floor. I tried to hide it from my daughter, thinking I could replace it or glue it back together somehow. It stayed on the counter for days, until I was finally ready to put it in the trash can. She never missed it, but sometimes I still do.


A few months ago, my husband introduced the concept of chores to our daughter. She loves to be in the kitchen, and regularly asks what she can do to help. Setting the table seemed like a natural choice for her first household chore. Getting ready to sit down for meals takes a lot longer now since we hand her each dish and utensil to place on the table one by one, but she’s learning an invaluable lesson in responsibility while also gaining a sense of accomplishment. Some nights the silverware is strewn about any which way, but that’s also part of the fun. This owl plate is one of her favorites now. It’s one of mine, too, but I know that if it happens to fall and break someday,that’s okay. Dishes may break, but memories don’t.


From me to you, here and now…