China for Kids?

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?

17 thoughts on “China for Kids?

  1. I’m afraid my children eat from plastic here. (That sounds terrible when I write it out!) It’s not really that I have a fear of breakage; it’s just that even my dh and I eat from Corelle. 🙂 I have trays and divided bowls for my girls. We’re not too fancy around here, ‘though I do like the idea of teaching them to care for special things. My girls aren’t bad to break things, anyway, though.

    Great post!

  2. My kids don’t usually eat off our regular plates and bowls (mostly because they are bigger and kind of heavy); we use Corelle for them. 🙂

    1. Weight is definitely a factor. I give the kids their meals on saucers to keep the size and weight manageable, but our china is pretty light anyway. Then again, maybe if it was heavier the bowl wouldn’t have broken when Sarah hurled it. 🙂

  3. My kids eat off of plastic too. I have seasonal themed plastic dishes that make the table so cheerful. We use the China whenever we eat in the dining room. We create special occasions to do so. I agree with you that China should be used and more than once or twice a year. When we purchase our dining room set I said the same thing. That we would not have a set the kids couldn’t use. But they do need to learn to use them respectfully. It’s a fine line isn’t it?

  4. Martin and I eat off of plates from Target and we just recently moved Dylan to those same plates (after he proved himself able to use the plastic carefully). Lydia does not even get plates or bowls yet. Every time I have tried she dumps them on her head or throws them on the floor or plays with them so she eats off of her tray with plastic utensils when necessary but those usually end up on the floor too, the hard wood floor in our kitchen (that I longed for when we had carpet at our old place). I have these hard plastic kids plates that you would love. They are peter rabbit-esque and they look like real plates and feel almost like real plates. Because they are made of a harder plastic they would break easier than other plastic but it wouldn’t be as much of a deal as breaking a dish that is from a set – even when my Target dishes break I get perturbed because then I don’t have a complete set and can’t replace just the one missing piece. Anyway, I find there are lots of opportunities to teach the kids about taking care of things so even if you find it best to not use the china with Sarah I’m sure there will be other avenues to teach her the important lesson of taking care of things. Just yesterday I was telling Dylan not to use our family car as a road for his cars. “Why mommy? – Because we need to take care of the things God has given us. – Why mommy? – Because it costs lots of money to replace things that are broken and we would rather spend money on other things. – Why mommy?” etc….

  5. We do have some plastic plates that are designed for kids, but I only take them out to cheer them up or add some fun to the day. Most of the time they use our correlle or stoneware. I will admit that they drink out of plastic sippy cups with or without the tops. That is mostly b/c of the spill factor and I just need to not jump up at every meal to wipe spills. My 5 year old has a cup, but the 3 year old is having trouble mastering topless. And yes, the kids help set and clear the table, so they are carrying their bowls and plates around. I think they’ve each broken one thing. I can’t argue with that. My husband and I have each broken much more….haha.

  6. We don’t do china at our house–I actually didn’t even put a complete set on my wedding registry. But my girls do use either our porcelain or glass plates depending on what meal it is. I like for them to be exposed to nicer things and learn to be careful. They did start with some little plastic plates for the first round of lessons that the plate belongs on the table for the whole meal! 🙂 And they do use mostly plastic or melamine bowls, but mainly because the plastic bowls are smaller and we use an odd assortment of pottery bowls and haven’t yet opened up the box of nicely sized cereal bowls (that we got for our wedding 6 years ago!!) that we will need to use as more people need bigger bowls. And my absolute favorite children’s dish is the melamine Peter Rabbit bowl that I found at a thrift store–our nursery is in Beatrix Potter, so I couldn’t pass it up!!

  7. Yeah, we all eat off of plates purchased from Kohls, kids and parents alike. No china for us nor any porringers, silver or otherwise. Call us tacky, I guess.

    1. I wouldn’t call you tacky! China is not some people’s thing, and I get that. I love my china and enjoy it, so I want my kids to learn to appreciate it too, and to be comfortable using nice things. But there are a lot of things I could care less about that are main parts of other family’s cultures. I think the neat thing about families is that we all have our own culture. I certainly didn’t mean to imply that everyone should be into china!

  8. Around here, we all use Corelle…kids and grown-ups. I do have some inherited china, but it’s a very busy pink floral pattern that would not have been my own choice, so I’ve really only used it once or twice in the 5 years I’ve been married. The kids are pretty good at being careful with the Corelle, but it has been dropped on a carpeted floor a few times with no ill effects. Even if it did break, it’s an easily replaceable pattern.

  9. Our oldest (7 years old) can handle regular plates just fine. It’s our youngest two that prefer to throw plates when they are finished – or sometimes just when they are ticked off, just because they can. For them we use the plastic kid plates and bowls.

  10. My children eat (and drink) practically every meal off of the Royal Doulton Bunnykins china that was mine and my husband’s growing up (isn’t it dear that we had matching china from birth?). They also have a Spode Winnie the Pooh plate and mug set, which has been bitterly fought over from time-to-time (because there is only one, given to Thomas as a baby present).

    Up until yesterday, I could proudly say that none of those pieces have been broken…. I have emphasized from the beginning the importance of being gentle and careful with them–especially as they eat 2 meals a day in the kitchen over ceramic tile floors.

    Alas, yesterday Thomas’ elbow was not being careful, and it knocked his bowl to the floor, where it shattered into many tiny pieces. I must confess, I cried, which made him feel terrible…but (a) I am pregnant, and (b) the bowl was mine as a child, and I have always loved the pattern, of a bunny working in its garden. We kissed and made up later, and I found that I can order another on ebay for $20, if I start to feel terribly nostalgic.

    Here’s to the joy of china!

  11. Our oldest (7 years old) can handle regular plates just fine. It’s our youngest two that prefer to throw plates when they are finished – or sometimes just when they are ticked off, just because they can. For them we use the plastic kid plates and bowls.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

CommentLuv badge

A Spirited Mind HomeAboutReadingWritingParenting

Thank you for joining the conversation at A Spirited Mind! Please keep your comments kind and friendly, even if you're disagreeing with me or another commenter. Comments that use inappropriate language, or that are cruel, threatening, or violent will be deleted. I'm sure you understand!