Sitting at the kids' table

staff note

During most major holidays, my family either hosts or attends a dinner party. The host family spends the afternoon creating a wide and varied dinner spread. Guests arrive around 5 p.m., each bringing a dish or two with them. Once everyone arrives, we load up our plates and head to the tables. One table is usually reserved for the adults and one for the kids.

This past Thanksgiving was familiar in some ways: we hosted that all-too-familiar party. But, we were in a new home — a new place, with some old faces and some new ones. My mom recently relocated to Iowa for her job, along with many of her coworkers, but the families with kids that I knew well were still back in Indiana.

There were also fewer people than usual. Still, before the guests arrived, we tidied up — my mom specifically told me to make my bed in case people wanted to see the new house — and set out the two tables. One for the adults, and one for the kids. When it came time to sit down, though, I hesitated. There were only four “kids” and seven adults at that point, with about nine chairs at the larger table. A few of the “kids” were also already graduate students, which added to the awkwardness of the seating situation.

My dad told my sister and I to sit wherever, but my mom waved us over to the smaller table. So, we sat there. Just the two of us. Until the larger table filled up, and one of the adults came over to sit with us. When the last family arrived, a few more people joined us, but it still had a sort of awkwardness of feeling that we were not all in our usual places.

Eventually, dinner ended. But the typical activities for the “kids” — playing games, watching movies and TV — had not yet been set up in the new house. We eventually dug into one of the large, still-packed boxes and found some board games. My sister and I played 3D Blockus on our own for a bit. Just the two of us. Another girl, a college senior, later joined us to play a couple rounds of Harry Potter Clue.

After we took a cheesecake break and snacked on some other foods, the adults decided it was about time to start playing cards. Unlike at most of these parties, though, we all played together. My sister and I were looped into the game, included as part of this tradition rather than hearing the goings-on and echoes of the card game from afar.

We played as if we were a single person rather than two individuals so that we could work together. The two of us together was the equivalent of one adult. It took us a bit to learn how to play — it has elements of Euchre (a classic Midwestern game), Big 2, President/Capitalism (this game goes by a number of names), and some twists of its own. I’m not even sure what this game is called; I just know that they play it during nearly every get-together.

The game requires two or three decks of cards with the jokers, depending on the number of players. There are two teams, one that is trying to win and flip control of the game, and one that is trying to maintain control by preventing the first team from gaining points. The points come from winning hands that have kings, fives and tens. There’s also a trump suit, and the highest card changes every round of the game (not every hand, every round), starting with 2, then 3 and so on. You have to follow suit and follow the number of cards the first person plays (i.e. single, pairs, triples, etc.). Needless to say, as we asked questions, we gave away quite a bit of information about what cards were in our hand.

It was a lot of fun. Confusing at first and somewhat difficult to follow, but fun. It was also something of a revelation. I remember always thinking that the loud laughter of the adults was a bit amusing and a bit obnoxious. But joining in with the adults in the game gave me a different perspective. That day, I was part of that laughter.

It led to a noticeable change in my role in the family dynamic — while I’ll always be my parents’ daughter, I’m no longer a child. I think that change, though, is one of several in a process of increasing independence. Some other major shifts along the way included my first time driving without a parent in the passenger seat, traveling to another country on my own, leaving home for an out-of-state college and finding my first internship.

But I don’t feel like a full-fledged adult yet. If I had to set out on my own tomorrow, there would still be a lot that I don’t know. It is an intimidating prospect, thinking about the future and setting out without a clear path or any guarantees. For now, I’ll keep sitting at the “kids” table, as I continue to transition, try out different experiences and become more independent.

Selena Qian is a Trinity sophomore and Recess features editor. 


Share and discuss “Sitting at the kids' table” on social media.