A friend asked me recently about the fact that I serve my kids on china. We have a few plastic plates and bowls but I would say 95% of the time I do serve meals and snacks on breakable vehicles, primarily saucers and mugs because of the small size of my children. My friend wondered at my apparent calm in the face of inevitable broken dishes.
“Oh,” I said, with an airy wave of the hand, “my kids have never broken any china, except once when Hannah tripped clearing the table and broke a tea cup, but it was a mismatched one so I didn’t mind.”
Meet Sarah. Sarah didn’t get the memo about how my children don’t throw china. She didn’t respond to the gentle entreaties that worked so well for Hannah and Jack. She finished up her oatmeal and by golly she lobbed that bowl so mightily it hit the carpet with enough force to split the atom. We have a concrete subfloor and the carpet and carpet padding couldn’t absorb the shock. The bowl shattered. The girl has an arm. Sarah is going to rock at T-ball in a few years.
And once again Mama eats her words (off of a china plate, thank you very much). Sarah is back to exclusively eating from a porringer. It’s Hannah’s porringer, but so far Hannah hasn’t noticed the monogram. At least it’s silver so it looks elegant on the highchair tray.
There is a fine line between a good idea like wanting to expose my kids to nice things, teaching them the proper way to handle and treat our nice things, and stubbornly clinging to that idea and defying prudence. I do want my kids to appreciate and know how to treat nice things. After all, china is only china. Most of my china is not irreplaceable, and if we don’t use it, what use does it serve? I like to eat off of our wedding china – that’s why I picked it out. I have more china I’ve collected or inherited and I enjoy using it and telling the kids about how I found it or how our family used it in the past. I am open to some breakage, but it seems silly to break more than is strictly necessary, and so we’ll give it another try with Sarah in a few months.
Do your kids eat off of special child-only plates, or do you serve them on whatever china the rest of the family uses? If you serve the whole family off of the same set of plates, how did you teach your little children not to break the china?