Dining in Tranquility

Eight-year old Young Lady is sprawled along the dinner table, her head on her outstretched arm, her untouched plate shoved to one side.

“Who wants to be my servant for the rest of the year?” she asks languidly.

Moi!” pipes a cheerful voice next to me. Petit Prince has taken on the role.

Go get me a glass of water,” she orders.

Three-year old Prince jumps out of his chair and walks to the cupboard, his shoulders thrown back, his steps mincing “like a penguin” as he puts it. Sir and I look at each other with a half-smile at the comedy unfolding before us. Prince gets some glasses, but Sir tells Lady to go fetch the water herself. She reluctantly removes herself from the table and gets water for all three kids.

Young Knight, in his unbridled six-year old enthusiasm, breaks the languor felt by a family that has started the day at eight o’clock AM with two English classes in the home, a soccer match, a piano lesson, two birthday parties, and a traffic jam in the pouring rain. He does this by suddenly slashing his fork in the Lady’s face with a Kung Fu Panda sound.

Ca va pas, non?” yells my generally docile husband. (What do you think you’re doing?) “You could’ve dug her eye right out of her head!”

The Knight turns white with shock in face of such a rebuke. I can barely suppress a nervous giggle as I cryptically try to tell my husband he was too harsh just then and needs to throw out some comforting words – like, right now. When the Knight sorts through his shock enough to figure out he’s sad and afraid, he goes over to the couch and sits down, and wails.

It’s a Snoopy sort of wail with the lips held high to the moon and tears squirting out horizontally from his cheeks.

Sir calls out to him, then finally puts his fork down and goes over to try and talk him through his feelings, but the Knight’s wails only get louder. So Sir gives up and returns to the table. As the Knight’s sobs reach their climax, he starts to gurgle through his tears.

Petit Prince quietly starts gurgling with his water glass at the table, matching his older brother perfectly in pitch. Bubbling mirth threatens to spill over into my impassive face again.

When the Knight finally joins us at the table, still in tears, Prince remembers something that happened at the birthday party earlier and decides he’s going to cry too. Not to be outdone, the Lady decides to start crying because she just had a painful flash of what it would feel like to have your eye gouged out.

Sir and I hold each other’s gaze over the medley of discontent. “It seems like we’re doing something right,” I say, conversationally.

Pass the pork,” he answers cheerfully.

The chorus swells.


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I am the daughter of a symphony musician who was raised in upstate New York, and I simply breathe all things classical, be it music or 19th century literature (English and Russian). I married Sir Renaissance in New York City, and before I knew it, he had swept me up and brought me back home to his own country. So here we are. Three children, a rather ordinary life in a rather exceptional place. I am now ‘A Lady in France.’

Posted in Family, La Famille (The Family), Tout le Reste (Everything else)
20 comments on “Dining in Tranquility
  1. Alison says:

    Just a regular day at the household then? :)

  2. Lia says:

    Keep these vignettes coming. We’re expecting a baby in April! So, it will be good to be prepared. :)

    • ladyjennie says:

      I am very, very happy to hear it! I thought of you often on this subject. Steph just had one, you know. I’ll get to meet my niece in January. (yay!) Hugs, and a very big congrats! :-)

  3. Kimberly says:

    HAHAH…you sure are. A family that crys together stays together :)

  4. Mama D says:

    Oh, the joys of three young kids. We have SO many dinners like this! Since all of the kids also study martial arts, they also get regular lectures about not practicing their strikes and kicks on their siblings, even when not at the dinner table. 😉

  5. anna see says:

    dinner is such a crap shoot, isn’t it??? :)

  6. Alexandra says:


    The table: SO BEAUTIFUL.


  7. Jessie says:

    Hilarious!!! (To read about — probably not to actually experience). I have three young ones myself (4, 2-1/2, and 11 mos) and this happens to us almost every other night. Glad to hear we’re not alone in this particular family joy!

  8. Mom says:

    Loved this story.

  9. anymommy says:

    Is it really a successful dinner until everyone cries? Beautifully told.

  10. Jessica says:

    Really it is not a normal dinner unless one or more little people are crying over something.

  11. Ann says:

    Funny and I agree, so beautifully told. I love your sense of humor and gentle touch with your husband.

I'm Jennie. Welcome to A Lady in France! I write books, and also this blog on faith, French culture and recipes ... ( To continue reading, please click here. )

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