It’s a typical Friday night, my husband and I decided for date night we would go to a local restaurant, relax a bit and have dinner. Sometimes around our house, talking about anything other than day-to-day tasks seems impossible, we like to go out, just focus on each other a bit and have a nice dinner.
While we were waiting for a table we noticed a man who was waiting alone to be seated reading a book and really thought nothing of it except, I noted that it was an in print book, not a kindle or iPad, honestly you don’t see that much anymore.
We were seated and ordered some drinks, always diet coke for me and a margarita for him, another gentleman caught my eye as he was sitting alone, drinking water and seemed lonely. He continually checked his watch and seemed to be getting impatient, I remember feeling a little sorry for him thinking he was being stood up or perhaps his date was very late.
We had some appetizers and ordered our dinner, we were talking about all of things needing to be done in the upcoming weekend and just finally getting into the groove of being just the two of us, when I was taken aback and quite frankly appalled at what I saw. The two men were sitting together now and it was suddenly apparent that they were father and son; I know you are thinking well they were eating together, big deal. The big deal here was the audacity of the son who was now holding his book in front of his face reading it while his father ate his soup in silence looking at the cover of the book, he had no choice as he could not see his son’s face. It was a sad picture.
The father seemed in his 50’s and the son in his early 20’s and although they were eating dinner together, they were certainly not connecting in any way.
When did it become good manners to read a book during dinner when dining with other people? When did it become an acceptable way to treat our parents or anyone else for that matter like they are totally unimportant?
I often hear from my Dad that it bothers him that wherever he goes “young” people are always on their phones, it does not really matter to my dad what they are doing he just really feels that they are slaves to these devices. He often asks my kids friends if they are brain surgeons, it is the only reason he can think of to be attached to a phone like that.
Where did we lose our way? Did we stop teaching the art of conversation and being in the presence of someone else? Are we all so wrapped up in other things that we cannot have time with those important to us.
It bothers me a lot, maybe it bothers me a lot more this week as my grandfather just passed away. Do the younger generations not see what the older ones have to offer? My two oldest sons love to hear stories from their grandparents and even from aunts uncles and their dad and myself, they have learned that we have something valuable to say and getting to know everyone is worth their time.
How can we learn about life and all of the important things of our family if we do not take the time to listen?
I don’t know where we went wrong, but I hope you join me in trying to fix it. I hope you talk to people and are not a slave to the devices, even in print ones. That father in the restaurant obviously wanted to spend some time with his son, instead he got to spend some time looking at a book cover right in front of his face. It is so vital to “be” with people we love, time passes so quickly and before we know it, the people are no longer around to spend time with.
We have a small window, a very small one, we must be present, live life, be with people, tell others how we feel, take time to listen and take time to talk.
People are not around forever, we all have a very personal and important story to tell, especially your own family. Maybe if we listen more to the young people around us, they will find the time and energy to listen to us. I sure hope so, I was glad that when my grandfather did pass that I knew his story, I learned from every one he told me.
- Teach your children how to ask questions
- Make sure that when kids are around older people that they are listening
- Implement a no device at dinner rule
- Practice what you preach, don’t sit on your phone or read when your children are talking to you.
- Pay attention to your spouse and your parents in their presence
I hope these things help you and the next generation to learn to be present with each other.