I practice what I preach about children learning good manners through repetition and role-play, and I ask my children to set the table as often as possible. I tell people children can start setting the table as young as two years old. The challenge of course is having a young child handle dangerous silverware, and setting the table without breaking anything. Between three boys, we have broken many of our everyday dishes and bowls. To help this situations, I often will have my children set the table with the melamine dishes that they made in camps and pre-school. Now that the years have gone by, I am sick of seeing mismatched plates at the dining room table, and am ready for all of us to have a more “grown-up” looking table. After 22 years of marriage and 13 years of being parents, I think we can justify a nice new set of china.
I start my search for the china we will use for more than “special occasions.” In the interim I go to a discount store and buy inexpensive white dishes and plates. We then go on a family vacation in the middle of my search to visit my parents in Paris. One night my husband and I leave the kids with the parents so we can have a drink at a very nice hotel lounge. To get to the “Hemingway Bar” we have to walk down a long row of enclosed glass displays in the hotel, and this is where I discover the china set that I have to have!
I go back the next day and find out what they cost at the hotel gift shop. After I get over my heart attack at the cost, I decide to find them on-line in the States for less. I find them and decide to start the collection. I then question myself how fast I will become Mommy Dearest if one of the children breaks one. My next thought is will look and feel weird that just mom and dad have these beautiful formal looking dishes, while the kids are back to the pre-school melamine plates, or the plain white stone ware dishes. I then have a revelation! I know a business that specializes in creating beautiful looking melamine dishes and trays, and I ask them to make plates that can coordinate with the new china.
The McVeigh dinner table is looking better than ever. My kids are using the beautiful melamine plates for now, and I will entrust my wonderful table setters to handle the fine china as they get older and a little gentler - or magically transform into prissy girls. We now are all benefiting from a beautiful table, with a calm acting mother sitting at the one of the heads, while we discuss what we get to watch later on ESPN.