When I was growing up we always had dinner as a family. Well, okay, there were times when one or both of our parents were out. But the majority of the time we sat down and ate together. And whilst the TV was quite often on, we did talk to each other while we ate. It wasn’t just a case of sitting at the table eating and watching TV at the same time.
Since Jay came into our lives, we’ve tried to eat together as a family as much as possible. We don’t even have the TV on while we’re eating. And even if it is on, we can’t see it from the table anyway, so it’s not important.
What seems to be happening with a lot of people these days is that, with our hectic lifestyles, families aren’t eating together as often as we did when we were kids. The other thing is that with the proliferation of electronic gadgets (which we’ve mostly banned from the dinner table) even when families are eating at the same time, they’re not really communicating.
Just the other day SO, my wife, pointed out a nearby table at the place we were eating at. Around the table was an extended family of about 10 people, ranging from teenagers to middle aged. The interesting thing though, is that every single one of them (and I do mean all of them) were playing on their phones or tablets. So what we had was a group of people sitting at the same table, eating at the same time, but they could’ve been complete strangers.
I also remember another incident that happened shortly after SO and I moved to Singapore. We were eating at the local hawker centre (a type of open air cooked food centre) and their was a young family sitting at a table nearby, Morther, Father, and young child (about 2 or 3 years old). After they ordered and sat down, we didn’t see or hear the parents speak at all the whole time they were there. The father sat and read his newspaper, and the mother looked after the child. Even when he was eating, the father didn’t interact with his wife or child, merely sat reading his paper while the mother fed their child. When he finished eating, the father stood up and left the mother and child to finish their meals. We assumed he had gone home, as we didn’t see him again before the other 2 left.
Both of these incidents, to me, are sad. What’s the point of even being there at the same time if you’re not going to talk to each other? I wonder if they even like each other.
For me, we don’t just eat at the same time, we actively engage with each other. We always talk, whether it’s serious or we’re just joking around. This is a great bonding time away from the distractions of TV, games, friends and everything else that distracts us in this electronic age. It’s something I plan on continuing and hope that Jay is a better person because of it.