Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I'll take 'learn some manners' for 100, Alex . . .


Sunday was Mother's Day, a special day.  Many of us had warm experiences, surrounded by loved ones.  We are fortunate, to be sure.  I had a wonderful day.

My kids and I surprised my grandmother (their great grandmother) by showing up at her church just before the service began.  Working to get everyone ready and make our way an hour away was certainly worth it.  When I saw the look on my grandmother's face, it was clear that her Mother's Day had been made!  We were joined by my Dad, my Step-mom and my uncle, and we filled the pew where my grandmother usually sits alone.  It was a special moment.

Our afternoon went along as you might imagine . . . a big dinner, put together with love, more relatives and the following few hours filled with talks and laughs and 'shows' by the children and stories about 'the old days.'  It was the type of afternoon we don't have much anymore; a time I won't forget.  I reveled in the visiting time with the family that filled the oft-quiet living room, and I treasure the giggles on my childrens' faces as they laughed with the family members who used to make me laugh as a child.

My kids presented (they don't give gifts - they present them) our home-made gifts to the delighted Mamas in the room, and we missed the ones that were not with us.  Everyone kicked off shoes, got comfortable and savored our time together.  There were all of the ingredients to the perfect family afternoon.  It was rainy and gray outside, but cozy and satisfying in our circle in my grandmother's den.  We were all happy to give up the Sunday afternoon nap to experience the rare time together.

I loaded our left-overs and my children into our van to leave, and they quieted themselves into car activities for the rainy ride home.  I was left in the front seat with memories and thoughts and thankfulness.  I remembered a lot on the drive home.  I thought back about similar days I lived in my childhood, other times I relished in the love and closeness of family.

I thought about why the day seemed so different than so many days of the present . . . and then it hit me.

To be sure, the day was different because our group doesn't get to assemble often, and we rarely take the time to really visit with each other.  We rarely remember to stop our present to make new memories, to allow our children the safe feeling of sitting amongst a group of loved ones, listening to the stories and the memories and the funny tales.  We rarely do that, but that wasn't what made it different.  That wasn't what made me take such notice.

As I drove home on that rainy Sunday, I realized the present day menace that was missing from the day.  I realized the palm-sized communication tool which was not present.  I realized one more BIG reason that the day was different.

Our warm celebration was different because there was not a cell phone present.  Not one time during our afternoon visit did anyone take their attention away from the important people in the room to give attention to their phone.  No one checked their email.  No one looked down to answer a text.  No one absent-mindedly played a game.  No hand slipped into a pocket to grab their black security blanket.  No one.

Can you believe it?  I am struck by the huge difference that made in our day.  Our attention was actually in the room, on the people with whom we celebrated.  We were really talking to the people in the room with us.  We were a circle of adults and children without anyone sneaking a glance into a lap to attend to someone, something far away.  Nothing was more important than where we were, what we were doing.  Our emails waited.   I missed a text.  Our kids didn't play any games.

We looked at each other.  We laughed.  We snuggled.  We hugged.  We told stories.  We listened to each other.  We were there, in the room.

And that, I realized on the drive back home to the present, was a huge difference in our day.

I don't presume to suggest that I don't count on my phone.  I do.  I check my email over and over during the day.  I text many times.  I end my night, on my phone, playing word games with friends I don't even see!  I take my phone everywhere.  It is my watch, my computer, my calendar.  I'm guilty of looking at it when I shouldn't.  I have snuck it out of my pocket during boring meetings - I have.

But I'm sad, friends, about what we've allowed to happen with these new 'necessities.'  We forgot our manners; we don't remember how to be polite.  More important than that, though, we are missing the people in our presence.

I don't like it.

Sunday I had a taste of what life used to be like, and I remembered how good it felt.

Think back.  It was nice.  Imagine sitting with friends or family and having them there, in the conversation.  Imagine being with people who are actually there with you, looking into your eyes and not sneaking glances downward at their phone.

I'll stop here.  I won't go on and on.  I won't rattle off the stories about the impoliteness (at the very least) that I've witnessed in the last few years.  I want to, but I won't.

But I know one thing - I want to show my children something different.  I want them to be in the midst of adults who see them, who look into their eyes and who do not divert attention to someone more important in another town.  Who is more important?  Why can't it wait?

Sunday was special.  I want more of it.  I want you to get some, too.

I want my kids to have memories like mine.  I don't want them to remember looking at the top of or heads as we look at our phones.

And now, we have a winner to announce!  Yesterday's photo tripped up a lot of folks.  I'm impressed with your guesses!

This was the mystery photo . . .

And this is what it was . . . 

We only had four correct guesses!  Thanks for playing, friends.  The winner, drawn at random from random.org, is Rodrick B.  Way to go!  Let me know when you all are ready for your photo session on me!  

1 comment:

  1. I don't call it a rant as much as a raising of awareness. We've been in Oz for 5 months and still don't own a TV (however we do watch movies/news from time to time on the computer. The kids are limited to their "screen time" (electronics)to 60 minutes a day on the school days and 2 hours on weekends. I'm with you, I like REAL face time and being in the present with my surroundings. Good on you and your rant!


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