Thursday, December 11, 2008

Take your hat off at the dinner table!

This was the worst thing I'd hear as a child when sitting down for the daily family tradition. Besides for that little mishap, there was nothing else I would have ever tried to get away with. In fact, it became a game for us to see how long before my father would say to take it off, and then we'd all watch as I'd try and ring the hat around a banister post at the edge of the stairs. I missed 95% of the time. A small subtle form of discipline and lesson in manners, yet I remember it clearly.

The other day I'm chowing down on some chicken lettuce wraps and Mongolian Beef at where else? You got it, PF Changs. And the table next to me gets sat with what looked like two totally different families. Two dads, two moms and one kid each. One family was Mexican and the other was Korean....guaranteed, and I know, what?! An Asian family at PF Changs! It's like treason since it's so commercial and stray cat isn't on the menu (I still harvest a strong vendetta for food poisoning suffered at the wok of a local Chinese restaurant called House of Yau Kitchen as five days of dehydration, losing 12 pounds and a hospital bill can rile you up). As they strike up conversation the son of the Asian couple hasn't taken his eyes off his handheld PlayStation. I told my girlfriend, "no way would I ever let my kid sit in a public restaurant and play a video game at the table while everyone is eating. " Even worse, they were out with another family of guests or acquaintances and having a conversation. My girlfriend chimed in "we wouldn't even dare," recollecting her childhood with her brother and sister as they were well versed in respect from her Iranian father. Some of you might say "whats the big deal?" Well for one thing, manners. Another is the fostering of unstable building blocks in the foundation of a child's social development. Our generations were different in the sense that we participated in conversation with our parents and gained social skills that children today are lacking. We looked at this kid as if he was walking all over his parents...if you wouldn't, than have a discussion with your local elementary school teacher and see what their thoughts are, having to deal with your children everyday. You might know less about your own child then his or her teacher does. Hate, I mean, love to be blunt but kick your kid outside to play with his neighbors or friends nearby....don't let him stare at the TV everyday. He's just going to get a new game once he tires of the old one. Tell him to take the iPod out of his ears to have a conversation. Ask them what their day was like and force a decent response out of them so they know how to react next time you ask word answers aren't acceptable. I just don't understand how you wouldn't notice if you yourself can't build a rapport with your kid, how do you think someone else can? Letting them drift off into a digital/virtual world sure won't help them in everyday, professional life where they have to deal with other people. Cause them to interact and use their imaginations to create and problem solve.

Not to forget the health implications of sitting on one's ass in front of the computer every single day. We are the fattest country I hope you know, and for our children we're not exactly steering them down a different path. I know they have high a metabolism, but woopty-doo. Let's not assume some physical activity wouldn't do them some good. Our parents are fat and they never even had video games. Just think about what you did as a's not like times have changed so drastically. Man-Hunt, Touch-Football, Barbie's DreamHouse with the built-in air pocket to bubble-up the jacuzzi tub....I have a sister whadduwant from me. If it worked for you then why wouldn't it at least work a little bit for them. Please, I'm begging you, don't go relying on some kid's annual birthday party at the local indoor Rock Wall climbing facility to be the one form of endurance little Drewbie Jenkins is going to see. It's a huge mistake. Get Drewbie out there beforehand for some practice so he doesn't make a fool of himself on the first try and get so frustrated that he buries himself in the corner to peel cheese off those big white boxes with a guy sporting a long red mustache that reads "Made Fresh Daily." It seriously wouldn't be his fault, it'd be yours.

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