Allow me to be a parenting snob for two seconds: I don’t like kids using electronic devices in restaurants. Just the idea that they can’t get through those long few minutes before the food arrives without staring at a tablet or a phone. Dinner conversation is a learned skill, one they’ll need at work conventions and on dates when they’re older, and why not learn the skill by practicing on their loved ones? Just my take. Plus, you know, their families might actually want to talk to them.
This is why we don’t let our kids use our phones in restaurants. That policy has caused some friction.
We were out last week at one of our favorite places, which was having a special anniversary dinner, and my son was having trouble waiting. Not unusual – he has ADHD. Waiting is pure torture to him. He demanded a phone to play on.
No, we said.
He demanded again, and a meltdown was imminent. I got ready to haul him out of the restaurant.
Why don’t you write down a story, my husband suggested.
No, said my son, I want to hear one of Mommy’s stories. I want to hear the story about the penguin.
He’d actually requested a story about a penguin a few days ago. It was a work in progress. I shrugged and, without looking at my notebook, winged it. (Yep. Went there.)
He and his sister hung on every word.
They demanded another story. I have another work-in-progress about a boy who finds an unusual rock, and the birds who start to follow him around. I didn’t even have an ending for it yet. But I started to tell the story.
My son guessed the twist pretty early on. But he still hung on every word.
Two stories later, we were enjoying a pleasant meal.
I keep forgetting the power of stories. My son reminded me.
And entertaining him myself was so much more fun, so much more meaningful than handing over a phone.
Now I just have to revise those stories …