A friend of mine shared with me a game she plays around the dinner table to encourage conversation with her children. It's called "Sweet and Sour." She started it when they were very young - around the ages of mine - and still plays it to this day with her High School Senior and College Sophomore. It is her CHILDREN she says, that initiate Sweet and Sour with her - even as teenagers/young adults.
The concept is simple. You go around the dinner table and say one sweet thing and one sour thing about your day. At this age, the sweet and sour are pretty simple and sometimes quite silly or fleeting. But, as it was a few weeks ago, sometimes Sweet and Sour is just plain "sweet."
A week before Christmas, we had gone as a family to a Santa parade in a cute local town. CB happened to be with her dad that weekend, so she wasn't with us. After a cold evening, we got home and ate a warm dinner. Of course we played our game. When it was Pink's turn for Sweet and Sour she said My Sweet thing was that we had a great day spending time together as a family! My sour thing is that CB was not here to do it with us."
CB ignores her, pushes her, scratches her, has never spoken one word to her, barely registers her existence... and yet here Pink is, in her own way, saying she missed her sister being there. Even at 5, she knows the Sour of a family incomplete.