My 11yo daughter K- and I decided to go out for a nice dinner last night, somewhere we hadn’t been in a long time and when I suggested California Pizza Kitchen, she thought that sounded terrific. Hadn’t been to a CPK for a few years, actually: It’s one of those restaurants that’s just never on my short list and my kids prefer the informality of Chipotle, Firehouse Subs, Smash Burger or Wahoo’s, which works for me as they tend to be lower cost and perfectly good food.
We splurged, too, sharing the chips and guacamole appetizer, a caesar salad and a pineapple and pepperoni pizza. The joint was definitely jumping with a full crowd and buzz of weekend activity. The food was good, the experience was good, and we did not leave hungry!
Except for this one table across from us, which just made me sad.
At the table was a Mom in her late 30s and her two children, a 15yo girl and an 11 or 12yo boy. Both of whom were glued to their smart phones and completely ignoring her, even when their food was served. Kinda like this…
Her response was to sip a glass of wine and look rather sadly at her children, but almost never talk to them or try to interact. They were oblivious and I don’t think the boy had a single word to say to his Mom the entire meal, even when his food was placed in front of him. The daughter, at least, looked up once or twice and exchanged some words with her Mom, but it was an extraordinary display of digital disconnection.
Making the tableau even more disheartening is that there was a second wineglass, empty, suggesting that there had been a fourth at the meal but the entire time we were there it was an empty spot. Dad had to rush off for business? They’d gotten into a fight and he walked? Failed date night because she had to bring the kids along?
Really, one of the most depressing things I’ve seen in a while, and I so wanted to just walk over, pluck the devices out of the children’s hands, and say “just talk to your Mom, guys. Show her some love.”
But, of course, I didn’t.
Still, is this the future of our families?
And as for us, K- and I played a fun game of the super-lightweight Baseball Blast from the Cranium folk, a dice-based baseball game played in three innings. She won by three runs after some really lucky rolls, and we engaged and had fun throughout the meal, rather than ignoring each other.
But not that other family. They were in their own little worlds the entire time.