From Tracie: Sitting At The Grown Up Table

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sitting At The Grown Up Table

I grew up in Florida. Most of my mother's family lived in Arizona, and we would visit during the summer, but never on holidays. When I was eighteen, I spent my first Christmas with my mother's family. I was surprised, when I went to my aunt's house for the big family dinner, and found my place card sitting at the children's table. Inside, I bristled up with a little bit of indignation, but I didn't say anything. 

I was married the next year, and Katarina was born the year after that.

Twenty-one years old. Katarina and I visit Arizona for Thanksgiving. We arrive at my aunt's house for the family dinner, and I see my place card, sitting by a the children's table. 

There were times during that trip, and subsequent trips, when I felt there was a super special grown-up club for the adults, that I was never going to be invited to join.  I got used to not being included in the conversations, or family decisions. It hurt, but I grew to accept as fact, I would never be considered an adult to them.

It didn't matter that I was married or that I was a mother, I would always be relegated to the children's table in the minds of my family.

Twenty-seven years old. Katarina and I spent a few days with my cousin Lori and her family. One night, Lori's friend Elaina came over after dinner. She was sitting in the living room. Her foot was in a cast, and she wasn't supposed to be walking on it. Elaina called out across the house, "Okay women! Lori, Tracie, come in here and talk with me for a little bit, before I go home." 

There was a moment of surprise that she had included me in that invitation.

Then, understanding hit. Elaina looked beyond my family, and the years she had watched me grow up, and she saw me as a woman.

I had just been invited to the grown up table. I had graduated.

The Red Dress Club prompt: 
Remember a graduation.

Did your family have a separate children's table? 
How old where you, when you got to sit with the grown ups? 


  1. That's an exciting graduation. I love your twist on the prompt. Yay for Elaina!

  2. We never had a children's table much anywhere. I'm glad we didn't, I hate separating people by age or gender or such when it comes to get-togethers. I suppose our graduation to being considered an adult always never comes early or late enough. I, for one, was considered an adult too early, and that had quite a negative effect.

    Nice work =) Simple but still with some echoes, as a memory ought to be.

  3. Hi Tracie,
    My family was so large that you had to sit wherever you could find a seat!

    Love your story. I'm not sure that my aunts have ever considered me grown up.


  4. I hated having to sit at the kids' table. Tucked away into a different room, my sisters and I always tried to sneak salt and pepper into each other's milk glasses.

  5. This? Is an amazing take on the prompt- *Love!*

    It's amazing how hard it is to be seen as anything other than our little kid selves, isn't it?

    Your evident pride and happiness at being seen? Is a good reminder for me as a mom to gift that to my own children!

  6. It does feel good to be acknowledged, doesn't it? Wow...18 and with the kiddos? That's a hard pill to swallow. And then with a child? WOW.

  7. What a lovely post. I am here from Lady Bloggers, and I am so glad I saw it.

    I grew up in a small house where we had a large solid table and then there was "the card table" annex stuck awkwardly at the end for the kids.

    We, children, were always warned to be careful of where we placed our plates and drinks, lest they sagged through the tablecloth - missing table part - and dumped their messy contents on to the floor.

    Over time, we kids kind of moved up. As people graduated and moved away from the area or just passed away, we moved onto the more solid place at the wooden table in the dining room. Moving from a place of instability to what we thought was stability, only to learn solidity was an elusive illusion.

    Thank you for reminding me.

  8. Wow.
    I am in awe at your silence when it comes to sitting at the kiddie table.
    i think I would have said something.
    I like your invitation though.
    congrats Tracie.
    you are an extraordinary woman and should probably never sit at the kiddy table unless you want too.
    Love you!

  9. See there is the difference between me and you .. I would have said something about being at the kid's table, but then again I probably would have had more fun with thekids then hear and deal with the drama of the adults

  10. OUCH!!! In many ways, families will continue to see "us" as children and treat us as such, but not in a physical way...emotionally or we may keep ourselves stuck there. I know that I can. The adults are still the big ones and I am small for that reason I would not have said anything.

    We sort of had a children's table, but it was only because there wasn't enough room. But, everyone sat where they wanted. It just happened to be that all the younger ones sat in one place, but I was the youngest and my aunt the next in age was 10 years older than me...

    You are an adult and deserve to be treated and thought of in that way!!

  11. See, I didn't even know that was a Remembe(red) post until the end. You are so very creative.

    Sometimes, you need someone outside the family to break the mold.

  12. Hooray!! I got goose bumps reading that last line. You had graduated. Sometimes just throwing our hands up in the air in resignation is enough to change the way people see us.
    I like how direct your writing is. Powerful words don't need a lot of dressing up:)

  13. This piece is tricky. I feel like it was fun to read, but also frustrating. Because I went through something similar in my family. I remember meeting up with my cousins when we all got to town for my grandfather's funeral. I hadn't seen them in years and they asked how old I was now. "Twenty-four," was my answer. And they were surprised because they still thought I was only 19 or maybe 20. Even though I am older than one of them.

    I guess we have a habit of banishing some to perpetual childhood, especially when we don't get to witness that transition to adulthood.

  14. Great take on the graduation prompt! And I know the feeling!

  15. I was 18 when I came off the kid's table but don't think I ever got off the kid's corner.

  16. I'm still considered "The Baby" by my family I understand why this was a Big Deal for you.

    Love your take on the prompt!

  17. This was so great Tracie! Sometimes families don't always take into account everyone else's feelings. Trust me. I have had issues with this in my own family.

  18. How exciting! I'm 21 - and single - and therefore still at the kid's table. Since I plan on being single for a while - I'll be at the kid's table a while. This is why I leave the country during holidays

    Found you through TRDC

  19. Really dug what you did with the prompt. I didn;t see it coming either.

    Im 40 now, and was 36 years old the first time I sat at the grown ups table at my grandparents. I refuse to give up my seat to anyone.

    Good post

    thanks for my comment


  20. That was touching, but I would really enjoy it if you were still sitting at the kids table well into your 60's.

  21. My family is small on both sides, so we never really had a children's table that I can remember. But on my dad's side you can tell when you've reached adulthood when they automatically hand you a glass of wine instead of asking your parents if you can have one. I loved how this piece brought back so many memories for me. Great job!

  22. Cute response on the "graduation" prompt.

  23. I hated that "kids table" thing so badly from my own experiences, I banned it from my house after we had kids. Unless my son asked if they could sit somewhere besides with the grownups, they were included.

  24. Love love love this take on the prompt! I'm so glad you went in this direction with it. Graduating from the little kids table was such a big deal - and to realize you're no longer perceived that way is priceless!

  25. What a wonderful graduation! I remember that graduation and the minute I sat at the adult table I wanted to go back to the kid table....more fun there! But what a great feeling to be accepted into the world of adulthood!

  26. That was terrific! You not only thrill me with your non-fiction but now with your fiction. I really need to try "on" this Red Dress. I want to know more about that conversation over the broken leg!!!


  27. Awww - this is the best type of "graduation" ever!

    Too bad it was so long coming. :)

  28. The next time we go to Arizona, I'm requesting the kid's table

  29. Beautiful story. Really.

    We had a kid's table, too. I remember the first time I was put at the adult table, I didn't somehow feel qualified enough, yet.

    Now, I host the dinners and when I'm sandwiched between my mom and some elderly chatty uncle, I always wish for those days, when I built dams out of my mashed potatoes to keep the gravy on one side of the plate and snorted at all the other kid's antics.

  30. I'm way older than you, but I find that when I am in the midst of "family" I mentally regress to feeling like the child. It doesn't take long though for me to engage my grown-up power and sit wherever I choose, even if it is at the head of the table. And it's no fun going to Arizona in the SUMMER!

  31. I remember dying to sit at the grown up table during Christmas dinner at my grandparent's house growing up. Thanksgiving we had at my aunts, and my cousin, Danni, and I usually relegated ourselves to the table in the backyard while everyone else ate with plates on laps around the football game. When I hit 15, I didn't mind sitting at the kids table anymore. My cousin, Stephanie, also 15, invited herself to the grown up table, and literally killed the grown up table for me. She called demands of quiet and indulged in adult conversation. From that day forward, she was a totally different person than the one I'd grown up with, and the grown up table lost all appeal to me. If given the choice now, I'd totally choose the kids table.

  32. What a sweet memory.

    Sometimes I like it when the older generation refers to me as a 'kid', I guess because some part of me wishes I still was one.

  33. I would NOT have been able to be quiet about sitting at the kid's table at that age!

  34. Like Colleen...I would not have been able to be quiet, either!
    We never had a children's table in our house, nor did anyone we know, when I was groeing up. No relatives or friends. So everyone--no matter their age, sat together, and if we all didn't fit at one table, there were two, but, always the so called 'adults' and the children all sat together.

    You know what I thought when your Aunt put you there when you were really not a child anymore---maybe she thought you were so GOOD with kids that it would be great for them. Do you think that is even remotely possible OR am I just in!

    I was just over at Colleen's and I thank you for heeding her advice about coming over to see the Jacaranda Trees....! That was nice of her and that was nice of you, too!

  35. My sister and I sat at the kids' table until I had graduated from college and got married. We only graduated to the adults' table when there were not enough other "adults" left living or living in the area to fill the regular table.

  36. We had a kids table at my grandmas. She passed away when I was 12, so I never got to see what happened as we grew up! :)

    At my house, the "kids table" is the island, next to BIG table. My sister's two boys always eat there. Your post kind of makes me think I should squeeze them into the big table next time. I'll ask them :)