June 30, 2020

How to Travel the World Over Dinner

Ah! Dinnertime! We love it when families are able to carve out time to rest and gather and communicate with one another over good food!  We are absolutely wedded to the notion that this time together is sacred and special and needed for a healthy, interesting life. 

But, as everyone knows, dinner is not always a totally satisfying event, especially if you have school-aged children. For some reason kids suddenly go mute at the dinner table and totally forget everything, absolutely everything that happened during their day. This drives parents crazy, even though kids have had the exact same memory loss, the exact same muteness at the exact same time of the day for generations!

 Here’s how it generally goes -


“Gracie, how was school today?”

No response from Gracie. She is intensively focusing on re-arranging the food on her plate. How many times can one little person twirl spaghetti around a fork?

Dad (trying again!)

“Did you turn-in your science report on stinkbugs today? Did Mrs. Tipton like the part about how these creatures might take over the world one day - soon?”




“Sounds like that was lots of fun?” 

What? Didn’t dad hear there was really no response to his question? Actually, dad was not really listening either. But dad continues: 

“I used to be afraid of those bugs but I’ve gotten over it. Glad Mrs. Tipton liked your report. Is she afraid of stinkbugs?”

Gracie is picking at her food if she is below the age of 12 (Maybe 11). Rolling her eyes if she is older.


“Gracie, are you listening to me? How was your day? What is wrong with you kids today?”


“Fine. The day was fine, Dad. Fine.” 

So painful!  I’m not sure whose fault it is that this exchange is so totally predictable, uninteresting and painful all around so let’s go with --- everyone could do better!

But, where does one go with this? What next? You can’t make a child talk and you can’t make a parent ask better questions ---- Or, can you?

Well, let’s see if we can make some improvements to this scene. Why not turn your attention to the world? Trying getting away from the day’s events and talk about the world.


  • Do kids in Buenos Aires, Argentina write science reports?
  • Are there stinkbugs in Alaska?
  • Describe a flyswatter. Ok! What IS a flyswatter? Does anyone in the world use them?
  • What do raincoats for the jungle look like?
  • Did you stay in school longer today than a student in Kyoto, Japan did?
  • Do all kids in the world sit at desks in their school?
  • Where is the best place in the world to go to take guitar lessons?
  • Where in the world are kids wearing shorts to school right now? 
  • Where would you go to learn how to shimmy up a tree?
  • Who in your class would you like to have with you on a trip to Norway?
  • Do kids in Kenya play basketball? Are you sure? Are all basketballs round? Are you sure?
  • Draw/ design an oriental carpet using the food on your table to inspire you. (Ok, just describe it.)
  • Quick! Name 5 countries where the kids are asleep right now. Do all kids sleep on the same kind of pillow?
  • If you were coming home from a visit to the Sahara Desert, what food would you want to eat first? Would it be different if you were returning from a fishing trip? Where is the Sahara Desert anyway?
  • Do not say a word!! Just see if you can feel a stinkbug on your foot right now!

Our experience has been that questions like these can spice up dinnertime quite a bit.  And, in addition, you might just spark your child’s curiosity about kids around the world and what their lives are like. 

Until families can travel safely and comfortably again, discussions like these will have to do!! So let lose and be creative!  I promise, you’ll reap the fruits of your labor when it’s once again travel-planning time. 

Enjoy your dinner!