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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

It's Okay if You Feel the Need to Call Me Old-Fashioned and Out of Touch

We take our kids out to eat a lot. Husband and I love food, love cooking, enjoy trying new things -- and we want to pass all of this on to our kids.

Restaurants themselves are such a treat. The vast array of choices on the menu. (Everyone can eat something different! Exactly what he or she likes! And I don't have to explain why we should all be eating the same thing and liking it! You get what you get and you don't pitch a fit can be thrown out the window.) The drink refills that I don't have to get up and procure for myself. The trying new foods and introducing our kids to new foods. The slow eating and conversation that has not been preceded by standing in front of a hot stove. The eating of things I cannot make at home -- chicken katsu, Korean barbecue, perfectly sizzling fajitas, sushi. The getting up at the end of the meal and leaving all the dirty dishes behind. Unwashed. For someone else to deal with.

We don't take our children to really fancy restaurants. (If we were going to get dressed up and make a reservation, we wouldn't want to have them sitting on our laps.) But there are plenty of local places that are family friendly without being in the genre that rhymes with Schmapplebees. We go to Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Middle Eastern, Indian and Italian restaurants. We go out for great pizza, thick burgers, fish and chips, soups and muffins. About once a week, we eat out somewhere.

But lately, I've been finding that ALL of these places -- in some misguided effort to cater to their customers' desires -- have been sporting television sets. It makes me completely crazy.

The one thing we never do in our own home is eat in front of the television set. Sure, we make big bowls of popcorn for movie night. But we do not carry our plates to the family room for dinner. We sit around the table, all of us, and talk about our days and about whatever we are thinking about. It's not always scyntillating conversation, and far too frequently we have to remind them that potty talk doesn't belong at the table, that they need to stay seated in their chairs, that spaghetti is not finger food. But we talk.

I think it is important to eat together as a family, and I think it is important to learn to have conversation around a table. And when I go to a restaurant? I don't want to watch some random baseball game or Japanese game show. With subtitles in Japanese. I don't want my kids' attention to be so distracted by the giant box of moving pictures in the corner that they don't even notice what they are eating.

It's gotten to the point that I almost don't want to eat out any more, since the TV infection seems to be so widespread. I HATE trying to have a conversation with someone who is watching the game over my left shoulder.

If we were taking the kids to a lot of sports bars, where people gathered on purpose to watch the game and eat wings, that would be one thing.

But do we really need a television set in the local pierogi place? The corner sandwich shop? The hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant?

What is the point? Are people so unable to converse over dinner that they cannot exist without a television at dinner?

TV at dinner: what's your take? TVs in every restaurant: evil or good?


Mrs F with 4 said...

Oh, I am SO with you on this one. TV in a sports bar? Sure. A chinese take-away waiting area? Absolutely!

Anywhere I'm likely to take the children will be instantly OFF the list if they can see a television. I think perhaps some restaurants use them to distract customers from the 'quality' of the food.

That said, I have been know to collapse onto the sofa with a pizza AFTER the children are in bed - but that's MY business! IF there should happen to be Haagen Daaz ice cream afterwards, well, that would be just perfect!

Karen said...

I am with you on every point you made. The idea of tvs in all the restaurants makes me less sad that we can't afford to eat out more often.

MomZombie said...

I'm totally against the dinner and TV combination. I do not understand why TVs are everywhere. They are in restaurants, in banks, in cars, at the gas pump, at the super market. It's as if no one knows how to get through a few minutes of down time anymore.

Marti said...

Definitely evil. And I am an admitted tv-aholic. Now that the kids are gone, I admit that dh & I will carry our plates to the den and watch tv during dinner. But when I make a real dinner, or have company over, I don't want the tv on.

Angie said...

Evil...especially since we don't let our baby watch tv. Sometimes there are so many we can't even position the baby away from seeing a TV. Luckily my 4 yo is not that into random tv, so is not distracted by it. So far so good.

Jaina said...

I have to admit, most of the time the fiance and I have been eating dinner in front of a movie or tv series we're watching. We do plan on having at-table meals though, especially with kids. I don't like televisions at restaurants (unless it's a sports bar) It takes away from going out. You also have to deal with inappropriate shows when you have kids with you. My parents have had to ask managers to change the channel in the past. Unbelievable the sorts of things that we've seen on restaurant tv's.

texasholly said...

I agree too. I couldn't believe it when our favorite Indian restaurant added not only one TV, but several including a HUGE screen one playing the equivalent of Indian MTV...shocking in way too many ways.

A Modern Mother said...

Evil. What's the point?

The Empress said...

HATE the Tv's in restaurants. They're all tuned to sports, which means my husband/their dad won't give us a second look when that dang boob tube is on.

Hate it.

Jb said...

Totally agree! That kind of thing makes me stark raving mad! Next thing ya know, they'll be having TV's at the mini-golf course, or the beach, or at your kid's T-ball game! It's sickening!

Apparently, even the schools can't live without a TV in the halls...granted they aren't airing TV, but still... (http://www.homemakerspensieve.com/2010/01/23/does-anyone-else-find-this-just-a-tad-annoying/)
Please forgive the linking. Just delete it if you don't want it there.

cy said...

nytimes had an article last week on "your brain on computers" (iphones, blackberrys, etc) and i think it's the same. too much tv makes your brain unable to do without it; you always need that stimulation.

that said, i love mindless tv after a rough day at work, and it is also a godsend from 5-6pm when i am trying to make dinner :)

anymommy said...

I am fanatically against TV during meals. How many occasions are there for real conversation any more? Very few.

I'm with cy though. I'm fanatically FOR putting my kids in front of the TV while I make dinner. Sometimes, it's my favorite hour of the day ;0)


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