The Family Dinner Table

7 May

A few weeks ago we went out to dinner with our good friends. The oldest girls were flower girls in our wedding, and I was their part-time nanny for four years. They have four children and told Dave to beware, it can happen to anyone! I’m looking forward to the future mayhem — and trying to get as much rest as I can before then.

Walt is actually pretty good at going out with us. We can’t sit there indefinitely, but with food, water, toys, and switching between mama and daddy, there is usually enough distraction to last us through the meal. Before we even got pregnant we knew that eating at a family table is important to us, as both of us grew up with family dinners every night. We share at least weekly meals with both sets of our parents. Since birth we have taken every opportunity to introduce this to Walter too. When he was really little he sat in the bouncy seat on the kitchen table, and we held his hands during grace. Now, if he is awake at a meal time, he sits in his chair at the table or in our laps. It’s hard to eat, though, when you have someone grabbing everything in reach and throwing it to the floor. After it spends some time in his mouth, of course.

But as we were enjoying some nice time out with our friends, we noticed another family at a booth nearby. I know most people don’t like to judge other parenting styles, but this was, to put it nicely, ridiculously 21st century. Apparently the only way they could get their kids to stop running wild around the restaurant and eat dinner together was to put up the trusty old iPad and play a movie at the table. Now, I’m not opposed to watching TV occasionally during dinner, but it was a treat at our house. Maybe once a week or every other week we’d get out the tray tables and watch a movie together. It was fun, but it wasn’t every night. We enjoyed the discourse our family created and happily ate together the delicious meals my mother would make us. We’d clean up the kitchen as a family. We would play chess and backgammon afterward. I want that for Walt – and all our future children – to have that special time to get to know each other, despite what I assume will be our hectic daily schedules when they start getting into activities, but to know that every evening your family is waiting for you, waiting to spend time with you.

In the technological age we’re living in, I can only imagine what the future will bring. I was born when there were no cell phones or home computers. Now we carry around tiny computers with infinite information and capabilities. Walt will see goodness knows what in his time on earth. It will either continue to develop, or maybe it will all stop one day. I don’t want to stunt Walt’s exposure to things that are “necessary” in this world. But I certainly don’t want him reliant on the instant gratification that cell phones, computers, and other technology provide. I will not be getting him a phone at 6. He will not have a TV in his room, ever. He won’t be allowed to play video games and watch TV instead of playing outside. I know I need to change my own habits too, because he loves my phone. He sees it and immediately tries to grab it. His favorite game to play is “see if we can break mommy’s phone with my slobber” but someday he’ll be the 2 year old who knows how to play Angry Birds. It makes me want to go backwards to when I survived without a phone at my side.

This kind of stuff gives me a lot to think about. How will I be as Walt grows up? Engrossed in my own world, or present in his? Do I have to choose between the two?

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One Response to “The Family Dinner Table”

  1. utigodday May 7, 2013 at 12:57 pm #

    Reblogged this on Utigodday's Blog.

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