Thursday, January 31, 2008

"Isms" for Dinner

Over the years, our family dinner conversations have gone through quite a few changes.

When the kids were very young, mealtime conversations focused on the meal itself: "Careful with your cup! Don't spill!"

Later, dinnertime conversations centered around the events of the day: "What did you and Ryan do at Cub Scouts today?"

Later still, dinner was a time to gossip, kvetch or ruminate: "Ashley talked about me behind my back, then Jason assumed it was true and told Austin and..."

And then, as the kids hit their mid high school years, conversations focused on the social hot topic of the day: "Who are you asking to the homecoming dance?"

Now that the kids are in (and out of) college and in their last year of high school, and now that they're enrolled in courses with titles like Eastern Philosophy and Religion, Microeconomics, AP Biology, AP Government & Politics, and AP English Composition, our dinner conversations sound more like a heated debate on CNN than like a family dinner. In the past week or so, all of these words have been uttered and/or/discussed and/or debated at our dinner table:

  • Existentialism
  • Utilitarianism
  • Marxism
  • Fascism
  • Socialism
  • Capitalism
  • Consumerism
  • Egotism
  • Idealism
  • Microorganism
  • Fundamentalism
  • Communism
  • Atheism
  • Lesbianism
  • Activism
  • Creationism
  • Humanism
  • Determinism
  • Nationalism
  • Patriotism
  • Pessimism
  • Unitarianism
  • Euphemism
  • Feminism
  • Optimism
  • Prism (OK, so this wasn't philosophical; I announced that as of next week, my prism glasses will be history!)
  • Sexism
  • Totalitarianism
As you can imagine, our dinner conversations can get quite lively these days. Peter and Aleks have quite different philosophies about many things, and both are quite knowledgeable, so sparks tend to fly when those two get going.

Kat tends to be quieter and quite even-keeled, but last night she was right in there with the rest of them, discussing existentialist views of things like "fate" and "determinism."

Get Elisabeth involved and watch out! It's a good thing Elisabeth is in Germany or the energy in the room last night would have been enough to ignite a rocket!

that haven't been discussed in the past few weeks, and which I am eagerly awaiting:
  • Somnambulism
  • Catechism
  • Exorcism
  • Tourism
  • Antidisestablishmentarianism (my favorite word when I was a kid, even though I never knew what it meant)

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Jen said...

This was great! When Elisabeth finishes her tourISM, she can also enjoy the ism-filled table. Rather reminds me of the alphabet feast in The Phantom Tollbooth!

swenglishexpat said...

Interesting observation, thought-provoking post. When kids get to the age when many of them go for an “ology” degree, discussing “isms” often creates schisms! :-)

Unknown said...


Carol said...

Oh my goodness, I DID! Sorry Kat! How could I forget vegetarianism, when it's an every day part of our dinners together (I always make sure to have a veggie dish for Kat) and is even often discussed as a philosophy of sorts?!

Vegetariansim! <-- There ya go, m'dear!

Carol (Mom)

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