What’s for Dinner? March Madness

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by Kay Helbling

Not many would argue that having your family gathered together to eat their meals is a good thing. From catching up on the latest gossip at school to debating the pros and cons of tattoos, it is a great time to stay in touch with your kids. But, unfortunately, sitting down to the traditional family meal may not be as practical as it once was. That doesn’t mean that the family has to drift apart. It just means you have to seek out new opportunities to share your time.

Having a husband and two college-aged, sports-loving, sons in our home, I have gotten well past the guilt of not sitting down to a regularly scheduled dinner. I have not gotten past my desire to know what is happening in their lives or what is on their mind. So, knowing that Spring Break breeds evenings of March Madness, I grabbed the brackets and went to work. I find even a little bit of knowledge can go a long way and,  let’s face it, there is no better way to get conversations going with men than sports.

I do have a couple of tips for you moms who may decide to join the March Madness viewing. Don’t ask them how dorm life is when Marquette is going for a 3-point shot to tie up the game. Best you wait till PSU trails at 20 points. And, don’t use commercials as a time to get food. It’s the time to find out who the gal was that called the other night. And, don’t ask silly questions like “which team is in the red shirts”? Instead impress them with a bit of trivia, like, “did you know that almost half of PSU’s top 15 are home grown talent—Grant, Cleveland, S. Salem, McNary, Mountain View…?”

Don’t just go through the motions. Really get into the games. Find out who they listed in their brackets as the winners and start rooting them on. You might find yourself actually catching the “madness” and holding off on those discussions about homework, or dorm life or getting a job for the summer.

Does that mean you’ve lost your opportunity to connect? Nope, it just means that those discussions can be kept for the walk they’ll be ready to take with you after the game. “Hey, did you know that only 25% of college athletes actually graduate…so how are your classes going?”

Kay was an insurance adjuster and executive for 15 years, a small business owner and a teacher for 10. But, her most fulfilling work has been as a mother of her two boys. She is now looking forward to an empty nest with her best friend—her husband.