The last helpings of spaghetti and bread-sticks are eaten, the water glasses are empty, and our family table is looking like another successful evening meal is in the books. But no one leaves the table just yet. Before we can call the meal finished, we all wait for mom’s cue that it is time for WBI (we pronounce it wuuby.)
For over twenty-three years our suppertime tradition has been to end our meals together with a game we call WBI, or “Worst, Best, Interesting.” The rules are simple; mom picks one person to start and they talk about the best part of their day, the worst part of their day, and the most interesting part of their day.
No one is obligated to have a “worst” and we are happy to hear about a “second best,” but 100% participation is required, even for our guests. We have enjoyed the many obliging visitors around our table who jump into our tradition with us for the evening.
And when it is your turn, everyone else is asked to listen respectfully. This is sometimes successful, sometimes not; we often have to wade through a fair amount of laughter and discussion to keep up with the family member who has the floor.
Once you complete your turn, you are allowed to choose the next participant until everyone at the table has shared the highlights of their day. Someone’s “most interesting” reminds someone else of another “most interesting” and the stories go on until we are ready to clear up the dishes. This family tradition takes place whether we are at home or in a restaurant or having a picnic in the park.
When our children were very small WBI was a funny, sweet experience that helped us understand what was important to the little people in our home.
We heard stories of a special treat from a teacher at school, and tales of woe about how mean someone was on the playground. We heard about favorite flavors of ice cream, how it feels to be last in line, and the funny stories about being covered in mud during a rainstorm on the walk home.
We heard sad stories too. There was the shock of hearing a fellow second grader had lost his father. And the fourth-grade friend who was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
Our sides ached from laughter as we listened to one child describe how she found a piece of candy she had stored in her belly button the day before, which was apparently still tasty the next day when she decided it was time to eat it.
Moving through the junior high years WBI became even more interesting. There were stories of cute boys and mean girls, and stories of sweet girls and not-so-nice boys, and moments at dances, and homework that took forever. We talked about haircuts, and braces, and who we could help at Christmas time. We were fascinated by the unknown person at the grocery store that bought a cart full of only gallons of milk.
As our children got older we heard about the presidential elections, college plans, breakups and get-back-togethers, and what we might want to be when we grow up. We enjoyed getting to know our daughters’ friends and suitors, and we kept up with the life and times of our dinner guests.
This entertaining game has been more than just a friendly diversion; WBI has given us a window into our existence. We laugh, discuss, and offer wisdom and empathy. We highlight ordinary moments that, when connected to each other, create an extraordinary view of the life and times of the people we love.
We are building pieces of ourselves into each other and learning that how we spend our days is how we spend our lives.
This custom of sharing daily experiences around the table has built a strong foundation of priceless memories. We call WBI a game, but really it is our life.