No forks. No spoons. Just hands. These are the rules of Goop Night.
When my husband was in medical school, one of his classmates told us how his family had regular “Goop Nights” on which they ate dinner completely with their hands – no utensils allowed. My husband and I have joked about instituting our own version of Goop Night since having kids, but we have also asked ourselves, Why? After years of working to get our professional mess-makers to use their forks and spoons, begging them not to dump their yogurt bowls on their heads or smear peanut butter in their hair, why would we intentionally encourage them to dig in and get messy?
I’m usually the one telling them not to make a mess, asking over and over, Please clean up. I’m the mom sighing and scolding over pants covered in chalk dust or yet another cup of milk spilled across the kitchen table. I mumble about the Play-Doh crumbs underfoot, copious shoe piles, and toy caches throughout the house. Most days, mess reminds me that I am not in control; it is something to be cleaned, something to remove, something that requires apology.
I have to remind myself when the kids are covered in yet another sticky substance that there isn’t much a garden hose can’t handle. The potential fun of Goop Night seemed to outweigh the amount of cleaning that would follow, and we decided to give Goop Night a chance. We spiced up a typical spaghetti dinner by telling our kids the opposite of what they normally hear when pasta is served: Use your hands!
One kid looked at us bug-eyed in disbelief. At most mealtimes, we beg this child to use silverware. Our oldest needed a little more convincing that this would be a fun thing; she might have kept a fork nearby, just in case. For the littlest guy, it’s always Goop Night, and Mom and Dad joined in on the fun, too.
It’s not that we don’t ever eat burgers or tacos, and our kids often walk away from dinner with food all over their faces. Just as we do most nights, on Goop Night, we sat side-by-side at the table and broke bread. The gift of Goop Night was the joy of being silly together. It gave us permission to get messy without any need for explanation or excuse.
No forks. No spoons. Just hands. All smiles.
This post is part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to view the next post in this series “Make A Mess.”