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It’s your talking time: a guest post with Kathleen Caron

My friend, Kathleen Caron, is guest posting here today. Please make her feel welcome. It is “Her talking time today.”  Kathleen lives in Northern Virginia with her husband Doric and three children, Marie, James and Joe.  She writes about food, family and faith at full of life: soul food.

Photograph by Kathleen Caron

Photograph by Kathleen Caron

It’s your talking time

Joe has the mixed blessing of being born into a talkative family. We sit down to dinner, and forks have barely touched our food before we’re telling stories about our day and discussing politics. “Did you hear about such-and-such?” someone will ask. “Oh, that reminds me of so-and-so,” someone else will respond. It’s a fast-moving stream, and you just have to jump right in there if you want to get a word in edge-wise.

When Joe was, oh, about four years old, and starting to get the hang of this conversation thing, he got tired of waiting for his turn to say something, and suddenly shouted, “IT’S MY TALKING TIME!”  We looked at him in stunned silence and waited to hear what was so vitally important.  But he didn’t really have anything to say, he just felt left out of the conversation.

“It’s my talking time!”

It’s a wonderfully assertive statement that our family often quotes, only partly in jest, when someone won’t stop talking.  Because, in fact, we all deserve to have our talking time, to say what we need to say. To be heard. To have our jokes laughed at, and our stories sympathized with. To be accepted, and loved.

That’s what dinner time is for—to look around the table at the dear, honest faces of those who love you, to speak your mind without fear that you will be judged and found wanting.

Maybe it’s just small talk: “How was your day?” “This chicken is delicious!” Perhaps it’s a rant, “You won’t believe what happened to me!” or a confession, “I did a really stupid thing today.” It’s your talking time, and you can do with it what you like.

The family dinner table is the safest place in the whole wide world.

You don’t have to pretend. You can come as you are, even in your jammies. You probably don’t have to mind your very best manners. It’s okay to lick your fork if the food is especially good. It’s even okay to laugh with your mouth wide open. Fill your belly with food and fill your soul with love. It’s your talking time.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:6

What do you talk about at the dinner table?



About Pamela Hodges

My name is Pamela Hodges. I am a writer and an artist. I write to encourage and to bring laughter. I paint cats, draw cartoons and write books for children and grown ups.

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  • I love Joe’s announcement! My mom tells me that when I was about 3 I would demand the floor, too, telling people: “Stacie talking to you now!” Seems Joe and I, many decades apart, were on the same wavelength.

    • I love it too, and quote him all the time. I hope you have happy memories of family time. It’s great when kids feel that it’s safe to say what’s on their minds!

  • This post made me think…my husband is one of seven. The only quiet one. They are all loud and boisterious and he is an introvert. My oldest daughter is also an introvert and hates talking much, unless she is on fire about something. Our dinner can be filled with laughter or painfully (for me and/or my talkative other daughter). People are always trying to tell me how they don’t know if my husband/daughter had fun because they are so quiet. I wish people would accept introverts for what they offer…being attentive listeners, not waiting to insert their opinions while we are still talking. If my daughter goes to a social event she might be quiet there, but she’ll get in the car with me and go on and on about how much fun she had. They are both happy to just be “with” you but can’t think of something tosay. I have learned so much from them…and still have a long way to go

    • I’m an introvert too, a talkative introvert. I wish I could just attentively listen like your husband and daughter, but I feel compelled to talk because I have so many opinions, and then I get really drained and stressed from being in public. Writing is good for introverts, we can express ourselves without actually talking.

  • Your post has stuck in my head all day. Maybe it is because we got after my youngest son last night when he started talking about farting while we were finishing dinner, which he got in trouble for doing. We have sat at many tables and my favorite is one full of laughter and smiling faces.

    • Me too, Jessica, I guess I think of the dinner table–home, in fact–as a refuge from the coldness of the world. It’s the one place you can let your hair down. I make my sons put a shirt on, though.

  • Rick Gibbs

    Great post, Kathleen! It brought back memories of my childhood table.

    • That’s awesome Rick, I hope they’re happy memories. I hope my children have happy memories of the dinner table when they grow up.

  • Cute!!!!

    I don’t have kids….but my one niece always tells us to please be quiet…she needs to talk!

    …as for what we talk about at the dinner table…almost everything under the sun! Mostly we share about our day…we try to always have dinner at the table…it helps with conversation….and keeping that part of our day “together”! 🙂

    • She sounds like Joe, although now that he is a teenager he no longer demands “his talking time.” His words are few, but often surprisingly profound and thoughtful. We talk about everything under the sun also, it’s amazing where a conversation can take you.

  • Erika Simone

    This is beautiful! It had me picturing our table and appreciating it in a new way. Thank you, Kathleen!

    • Thanks so much Erika! You may be sure our dinner table is very humble, but with good food and good conversation, any table is special.

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  • Loved this post. And I especially liked what your son said. I can imagine the talking around your table. Sounds great. What do I talk about at the dinner table? I guess it depends on who is seated there. If it’s the three of us, my husband, daughter and I, it could be something artsy. If Jude and Charlie are over? Well, anything is possible. I can tell you if the boys are over, there is a lot of laughter. We never know what will be said next. I liked this post because you quietly whet my appetite (planned pun), to make our times around the table memorable. No matter who is there. Thanks.

    • From what I’ve read about Jude and Charlie, I can imagine their dinner conversations would be delightful! There’s something about family dinner that is so special, because you know each other so well, but it is also wonderful to have guests. I especially love it when my kids’ friends unexpectedly stay for dinner and we get to know them better.

  • This is a wonderful post, Kathleen. We’ve been struggling a bit at meal times, to be honest, with exactly what you are describing… sharing the talking time. We’re working on it!

    • There always seems to be someone who enjoys holding forth, right? Which is exactly what used to get Joe so exasperated. Sometimes he just starts laughing at whatever hilarious thing his brother said that he can’t talk anyway. Thanks so much for reading Janelle!

  • La McCoy

    Beautiful. Our babies guide us.

    • They do indeed, “out of the mouths of babes.” Bless you Laura.

  • So true! I homeschool some of my kids–so when we have lunch we always talk about those who aren’t at the table! The best day of the week is when we have “lunch duty at school” and eat with 150 kids!

    As my kids get older (enough to not use a high chair or choke on food) I find that as I clean up and watch them have real face to face conversations is the best! My best Mom moments are when they find joy in one another.

    For Lent we are eating evening meals in the dining room . . . the dimmed lights, the candles burning the bigger space allows for longer conversations. Maybe I will move the evening meal into the dining room permanently.

    Be Blessed!

    • Renee, I love the idea of making dinner special during Lent, eating in the dining room with candles and lingering over conversation. Those will surely be some special moments in your home. Who says the dining room has to be reserved for guests anyway?