Conversations Around the Dinner Table

This morning while finishing my coffee, I was admiring the farm house table that Brad built me 5 years ago. It got me thinking about different times we have gathered and the conversations around this kitchen table.  What do your conversations sound like?  What new discoveries do you learn about? I can remember when Cameron was around 8 years old and we started to play a game called, High & Low Game around the dinner table.  You shared 2 highlights of your day and one low moment.  We did this so we can really understand how his days really were going and turn small talk into meaningful conversations.  The struggle is real with adolescent boys.

Over the years , this has helped open our communication around our dinner table (or anywhere) and believe most topics can always be discussed.  Even difficult subjects.  Most recently, Cam and I shared our reviews over a Netflix series that has some pretty tough situations that evolve around mental health and suicide.  At first, my reaction in my mind was, “What the hell is he doing watching this?” But then I realized this gave me an opportunity to talk openly about mental health and how these are real struggles with friends and peers at his school. Out of the blue during that conversation, Cam shared, “You never know what battle they may be fighting inside so you should always be aware of this and friendly to them.” It was a perfect reminder to mention how critical it is for us to reach out and check in on friends. If nothing else to let them know that we are here and that they are not alone.

Brad and I have always raised Cameron to speak and ask questions. Sometimes giving him this freedom has us both almost choking on our food or holding in our laughs but I believe this has made him more compassion and understanding to so many.  And now with him becoming a young man, it’s even more important to keep that open dialogue with him especially in the world we live in today.

My kitchen table is always a busy place for more than just good meals and birthdays.  It’s also, a work place for Cody during his tireless therapy weeks of ABA.  He spends a lot of time at this table and I have many successes that have happened here.  Some of his first words, writing his name or letters, reading, setting goals, completing work independent tasks, solving puzzles, countless hugs and trying all kinds of new foods.

It never ceases to amaze me how much I learn from those who join me around this table. Whether it be my family, therapists or friends.  I learn how little I really know. I learn how vast the world is. I learn how wide-open people’s hearts are. How much suffering there is. How many creative and inspiring ideas are out there bubbling in people’s minds.

So this takes me back to the beginning when I asked, “What do your conversations sound like around the dinner table?  What new discoveries do you learn about?”


Published by mamalamaneustupa

Bio My name is Shelley Neustupa. I am a mother of two cool boys and a wife of 22 years to my high school sweetheart. My oldest son attends the University of Oklahoma. Boomer! My youngest is in 2nd grade and was diagnosed with Autism and Mixed Receptive Expressive Disorder at age 2. Since his diagnosis, I promised him I would advocate and educate as hard as he works each day in therapy. I began writing and have been able to touch many parents that may be new to this journey providing them with actual experiences (not candy coated), support and resources through my entries. Writing is my therapy and my hope one day that my nonverbal son will be able to take these diaries and speak about his own journey and how autism relates to his own experiences. Who knows he and his older brother may become National Speaker’s one day? Come along on our journey to better understand our lives through the eyes of a boy with autism, his Skilled Companion dog Jude, his big brother (and best friend) and mom and dad. My raw vulnerability captures the everyday moments of our journey and will bring even more awareness. A week does not go by where we do not learn something new about ourselves and I want to share these chapters with you. My Sons Undeniable Strengths… Extremely smart and figures out things quickly. Has a memory that allows him to remember more things than I could ever hope for. Persuasive by his personality and sheepish looks. Overabundance of stamina and strength. Loves the outdoors. Enjoys life and always has fun with an unforgettable smile. You can find us here: Writer: Autism Through His Eyes Facebook Instagram YouTube Pinterest Canine Companions for Independence News Interview Cody and Skilled Companion Jude - Our Story

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