We have a rule at our house: No iTouches or any other type of electronic device at the dinner table, at home or otherwise. Is there a time when it is ever appropriate? No, not really. Have we ever been guilty of allowing this? Absolutely. Have we succumbed to the “here just play this and be quiet” pressure? You betcha. Did that make it okay? No…it…didn’t.
When our kids were babies we did what most parents do; we did anything to keep them from bothering and irritating every other single person in the restaurant. Then came the time when our boys grew out of the age where disrupting other patrons was a concern. It was no longer necessary to pull out the board books or the plastic keys to keep our kids happy until their meal arrived.
Saturday night after church we went out to dinner as a family. The boys know our rule, but that didn’t stop them from asking to play on my phone while we waited for our table. Instead, we made them sit there, patiently waiting. This required their father and I to stay off of our phones. This is called being a good example. Are we always perfect about that? No, but we try.
After our wait, we finally sat down in between two other families. And wouldn’t you know it, the kids at the tables on either side of ours were all on some type of Apple device. The adults were talking to each other enjoying their meals, while their kids played their games totally disengaged from everything around them. It was like the kids weren’t even there. The kids could have been home with a sitter and the parents could have really been enjoying themselves. I’m just sayin’…
But the story gets better. One of the mothers sitting next to her child who was probably around 10 years old, didn’t even make her child stop playing his game to eat his dinner. As he continued to play, she began feeding him like he was a baby! His head was down the whole time looking down at the screen while she carefully navigated the noodles into his mouth encouraging him to take a bite.
I stared in horror. I couldn’t look away. His arms weren’t broken. He wasn’t handicapped or disabled in any way. He was perfectly capable of feeding himself. It…was…crazy. There was a fleeting moment when I wanted to look at her, mother to mother, and say, “What in the world are you doing? If you have any respect for yourself as a mother or a person, please stop. For the love of all mothers, please stop!” Luckily my sushi arrived and my Lotus on Fire roll saved the day.
You’re probably wondering what my family did at dinner that night. We talked to one another. We enjoyed our sushi and enjoyed our conversation. Bentley tried a spicy tuna roll. Palmer complained about cooked cabbage being in his noodles. And Derek spilled his wine while helping Bentley with his chopsticks. It was a lovely evening.
Know the last thing I ever want to be is judgmental, especially when it comes to parenting differences. And I’m certainly not going to judge anyone on this particular issue because there will probably be a time when my boys will be found with a phone in their hands at the dinner table. We aren’t perfect and we don’t expect others to be either. We just know that when we sit down to dinner, we would prefer that our kids not invite Plants or Zombies to be at the table with us. Oh, and they also have to feed themselves. We’re weird that way.