Dragging soap box from the corner of the room.
Dusting it off.
On Mother’s Day last Sunday night, the kids took me out for dinner.
During our meal, we talked.
Had eye contact.
Most important? We connected.
While we were at the restaurant, we noticed two tables near us. One table was a husband and wife and their four girls. During the entire meal, the husband and wife were on their phones. Texting. Showing each other things on their respective phones. Their faces illuminated by the digital glare. All while their children sat in front of them. Little interaction between the parents and their children.
Another table near them. Husband. Wife. Three teenagers. The middle teenager and the Mom were on their phones the entire time. Barely looking up to put food in their mouths.
Stuff like this drives me crazy.
And I vented about it. Quite a bit.
Drives me crazy.
Growing up, my Dad would never let us answer the house phone during dinner.
“If it’s important, they’ll call back.”
I used to think that was such a stupid rule. There were boys! They might call! I might miss a trip to the mall!
But of course, years later, I came to realize what he knew back then.
When I was 16.
That he was right. Of course.
As long as there have been kids in my house (even with my stepdaughter, long before Nick and Madeline were born), I have had the same rule.
We don’t answer the phone during dinner. Period. End of story.
When my stepdaughter got her first cell phone years ago, I instituted the no-cell-phones at the dinner table rule.
Texting. Boys. Facebook.
It can all wait.
Did you know that the average American teenager sends 75 text messages a day? That’s crazy. I do, however, text as well. In fact, when Mystic is over, he often turns off my answering machine because I am terrible about listening to messages. Texting is instant! But, I also e-mail. Call. Send regular mail. All of the above. I like to connect.
But never. Ever. During dinner.
People who visit us for dinner know the rules. About phones and dinner.
And if they mess up? My kids are the first ones to remind them.
If you can’t connect with your family and friends for 30-45 minutes at the dinner table, WHEN CAN YOU?
Besides the fact that it’s generally rude to your fellow dinner guests, it’s skewing priorities. Nothing is so important that it can’t be dealt with after dinner.
(My only exception is if I’m eating dinner without my kids, on their Dad’s weekend for example. If my phone rings, I’ll check just to make sure it isn’t them.)
People. Please. Connect with your children. And if you don’t have kids, it’s just as important. Who wants to go out with a group of girlfriends, only to have everyone looking down at their lap, busily texting? At the very least, put the kibosh on phones during meal times.
Whether you’re at a restaurant. Or at home. Or at a friend’s house. Connect with the people who are right there in front of you. Interact. Engage. Share. Make eye contact.
There’s a pin floating around on Pinterest that has a basket for phones with a note that says “Connect with the people who are here.” Amen.
I don’t have to point to statistics. But if I have to, I will. This recent study is an awesome one. And when they talk about the importance of connecting as a family during the week for dinner, they mean sans technology.
Just as important as the no-phones-during-meal time rule is, of course, the general concept of family meal time on its own merits. As we go off on our various paths for soccer practice, Scout meetings, gym runs, errands, work, school, and more, meal time is when we can all come together.
Catch up. Question. Vent. Share. Keep tabs on what everyone is up to.
As a co-worker and I recently talked about how the world has changed since we were kids, I can only come to one conclusion. I can’t change how the world operates. I can only control my little tiny piece of it.
Raising kids to appreciate family meal times. And phone-free zones.
And hope that although they might roll their eyes at the rules when THEY turn 16, they’re staunch supporters of it when they have their OWN kids.
Because good values? They have that trickle down effect. And it starts in my house.
The storm clouds today were pretty amazing.
And considering it’s yet another day of rain, I’m doing my best to appreciate cloud formations and not complain.cell phones, family dinners, texting