My husband takes the kids camping every Father’s Day. I’ve told y’all that before, but it still surprises me every year. I think it was seven years ago when he first asked, “is it okay if I take the kids camping for Father’s Day?” No one in their right minds would refuse that offer. If my husband wants to take the kids camping every weekend, I’ll squeeze in family time somewhere else. Have at it.
I often get to make my own plans, which have ranged from girls’ trips with other moms to weekends in Atlanta to quiet nights at home alone. This year, I hopped on a plane and spent the weekend with my dad.
Dad made plans on Father’s Day, but they were actually belated birthday dinner reservations for me. I’d taken him out to dinner the night before. I think we made that more complicated than it needed to be, but at least we got a couple of great meals out of it.
His reservations sent us to this old-school, somewhat cheesy Polynesian restaurant, complete with fire dancing and barrels of rum with umbrellas. We knew what we were getting into and wanted an adventure.
The crowds for places like that are all over the place. We saw bachelorette and birthday parties, couples on dates, and a big table of guys drinking fishbowls. The rest of the room seemed to be filled with families, out for Father’s Day dinner. One was very dressed up, with girls and Mom in long red dresses and Dad in a sequined blazer. Fancy.
Surprisingly, that was not the family that stood out most of all.
This place was loud. Polynesian music blasted though the speakers, and since the show was sold out, every table was filled with mostly happy people. That’s not a complaint. It’s to explain just how loudly the kids at the table next to us were listening to a video. They had it turned up loudly enough to hear it over the sold-out crowd and the music. If they could hear it well, guess who else could hear it well? That’s right! All the people at the surrounding tables. The adults, who I’m assuming are the parents, sat there on their phones as well. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, so I’ll assume they were dealing with some sort of emergency that absolutely couldn’t wait until after dinner.
Fifteen minutes or so later, another kid, a teenager, joined this same family. They were briefly happy to see each other, quickly resuming their respective phone activities. The new kid was also on his phone. Y’all, he was FaceTiming someone. I can’t assume this was an emergency that absolutely couldn’t wait until dinner, because I could hear their conversation.
Before you worry, Dad and I were still enjoying our time together. We couldn’t help but notice this electronically occupied family, though. They were at the table directly in front of us.
I told Dad it made me sad that they weren’t enjoying time together. He agreed with me. He also said, “hey, at least they are together.”
As a parent of two teenagers (close enough), these kids’ behavior was gross. They were old enough to know better. Why weren’t the parents saying anything?
I suppose Dad was right, though. They could’ve all been anywhere, but they were together, celebrating their dad. But were they actually present? Next time, they could save the cost of the fancy umbrella drinks and Pu Pu platters and do a group video chat.
If you’re a phone call away, make a phone call. If you can travel together, do that. If you’re sitting down to dinner, eat, talk, and, like, look at each other. I suppose any time together is time spent together, but we can do better, y’all. Put the dang phones down and love your people, people.