Herb Benham

Friday, Feb 10 2006 01:46 PM

Residents share their take on kids' table issue

By Herb Benham

Sampling of how some Bakersfield people remember their graduation to the adult table at holiday time or how they today handle the kid-adult table question.

Steve Aakhus

"This has always been easy, the same now as it was when I was the kid.

"Whatever the size of the main table, all the adults are guaranteed a place. When there are extra places at the main table, kids are assigned seating with the adults, starting with the oldest. The sole exception allowed is for parents of overachieving genius children who insist on making the kid table a "learning" experience. They are "granted permission" to join their superkid(s) at the kid table. Of course, this action elicits smug smiles from the more experienced, battle-hardened parents.

"The youngest kids are comfortably spaced (adequate elbow room) at the kid table, then all other kids are squeezed onto the main table."

Brooke Trybul

"I have gone from seating and feeding 35 to 15. Most important is to have all age groups in the same large room, but at separate tables. General rule of thumb: adults (grandparents, parents aunts and uncles ages 30 to 80+) together; young adults, college, high school ages together; grammar school and junior high ages; and then assorted little children (who don't sit still for too long) at a little table.

"I have a large dining area/family room where everyone is seated in a common area. It's funny, I used to worry about not having enough food or seating. But now that the feast is growing smaller, I miss the old 'concerns.'"

Chris Fendrick

"Yes, we had two tables and continue to do so. We have fairly large families, so it was in some part due to space. I remember moving to the adult table at about 20 or 21. Sometimes we would sit in age-tiered tables. The little ones (3-12) at one table, youths (13-21) at another table and then everyone else at the grand table."

Dolly Hei

"When I was small (under 11) we went from El Monte to my grandparents' home in Los Angeles for Christmases and I can't remember being separated from the grownups in their fair-sized dining room. My immediate family numbered seven, so we made a fair crowd at our own table for Thanksgiving, no company included.

"I recall setting up a cute little metal Samson-brand card table and chairs, child-size -- which is still out in our storeroom waiting for the great-grandkids -- when our own two were little guys, and seating them there with cousins. I think (in their) early teen years is when (the) kids were incorporated into the adult table seating arrangement, sort of a coming-of-age tradition, but we were never big on formality, so I think the teens often just took a plate and sat elsewhere with it as they got older.

"Time was when our house bulged with people at holidays, but with my first family diminished by death and relocation, and nieces, nephews and (my) foster daughter and her family scattered to new places, there are often now only five of us here, which sometimes feels a bit sad.

"I think even the littlest children should be incorporated into the holiday table. I like better the idea of a noisy, busy group interacting over the turkey and gravy, cranberry sauce and pickles -- my mother always had Mrs. Fannings' Bread and Butter Pickles on her table.

"This year we'll have our own great-grandchild, Chloe, in her highchair."

Terri Collins

"At my house, we put the younger kids in the kitchen. ... It was really a space (and mess) thing, I guess. Now the younger ones still sit together, but with us. Age cutoff is kind of college/adult."

Betty Chicca

"We have 12 adults and 11 kids. The adults get the big dining room and the kids, the kitchen table -- the kids like it better that way.

"Antone, our 20-year-old, is torn about where to sit, feeling loyalty to his old crew.

"As they get older, we like to include them in the adult table. My father-in-law adores his grandkids and thinks the conversations are livelier when they are there."

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