Making the most of holiday exile

Kristine Gill

Raise your hand if you’re banished to the “kid table” at major holidays and family get-togethers. Keep that hand up if you’ve come to love your place among those apparently too uncivilized to join the adults. OK let’s all put our hands down now, typing with one is difficult for me, and the girl sitting at the table nearby isn’t staring because she thinks you’re cute.

I used to hate eating in the kitchen of my grandparent’s house with the other savages while adults engaged in far more interesting adult conversation in the dining room. I used to dream about the day I’d be invited into their ranks, permitted to sip wine from their crystal ware and exchange hilarious memories and family secrets.

I’ve given up on that dream. I’m 19 years old now. I have a driver’s license, I’m pursuing higher education, and I’m four years into my career as a master sandwich artist. I’ve flown in airplanes, balanced a checkbook and learned how to do laundry. I feed and clean myself, and still the invitation to dine with the other adults has yet to be extended to me.

I’m not upset though. The kid table has developed quite a culture over the past few years, and I’m proud to be a part. You know it’s a culture because the giggling issuing from the kitchen used to go unnoticed by the adults. It was assumed that what we were laughing about could not amuse those with a house payment. But boy oh boy, has that changed.

Now when adults enter our lair for second helpings and catch a snippet of kid convo, curiosity overtakes them. With an attempt at offhanded innocence, they inquire as to our topic of conversation.

We could share. We could tell them what Phillip said in response to Nick’s jab at Katie that was so funny Michael choked and splattered milk all over Andrea’s food. We could try to explain but somehow it’s not worth it. Plus having a secret enhances the mystery of the kid culture. I’m not sure they deserve to know anyway.

Had I approached the edge of the table with a question as a four-foot-tall second-grader, hopeful for some insight into the world of adults, I would have gotten a simplified answer. The coveted details so imperative to that response would have been glossed over, and I’d have been forced to wander away from the happy group just as confused and shunned as ever. Yes, shunned.

Well, the days of shunning are over. Now 12 kids spanning from age six to 19 gather around the kitchen table willingly. No one has to be forced into his seat or herded from the dining room. We’re quite content with whatever immature topic of conversation we choose and the din of adult chatter isn’t quite as intriguing. We entertain ourselves with talk of the annual trip to Litchfield Beach, S.C., and inquire as to each other’s most recent love interests, all the while throwing sarcastic yet playful insults at each other.

I encourage all of you perpetual members of the kid table to do the same. Enjoy yourself. Eat good food and cherish your cousin’s six-year-old humor from this side of parenthood. Feel free to make faces when New Year’s sauerkraut makes you gag, and take that third helping of pie without giving a thought to your figure. Most importantly, laugh — loudly. Make those adults wish they were cool enough to sit with the kids.

Kristine Gill is a newspaper journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].