I was watching (rather re-watching) an Oprah episode on family interaction, and they were showing the life of a family in crisis. They started off with a look at the family in their “current” routine. Mom wakes up and checks her phone; teenage son wakes up and immediately begins his texting; Dad wakes up and gets on the internet to check his email. Finally, the five-year-old son wakes up and is parented by the TV. The whole family is living in the home, together. Sadly, they are existing completely apart from each other. The mother made the comment, “the people that live within these walls…. are the people we should be treating the best.” Sadly, what I realized is that this family is not alone. This family is beginning to represent the majority.
It made me think back to my childhood, our routines, and what our family interaction looked like. We weren’t the perfect family by any means, and we could become disconnected from each other often. We pushed the limits, attempted to disconnect from our parents in an effort to find our own identity. I disconnected from my family but I didn’t remember us all being disconnected from each other.
I remember my parents finding any way possible to “connect” us. We sat down for dinner together every night. There was no TV, and no phone calls (there wasn’t much more to distract us actually…. we had no computer, no cell phones “back then”). Sometimes, I remember just wanting to die at the thought of having to sit down for a half hour of pure uninterrupted conversation with my family. I knew there were going to be questions and conversation that went something like this:
Family questions about the day “how was school?” “how did you do on your math test?” “did you study?” “did you do your homework?” “why are you so angry/upset/crying/yelling/ignoring me?” Family questions about the rest of the week/weekend plans “when is that science test?” “what are your plans this weekend?” “why are you hanging around that girl?” “why are you so angry/upset/crying/yelling/ignoring me?” Family questions about politics and news of the day “why are you angry/upset/crying/yelling/ignoring me?”
OK, so you get the picture. Not all of the conversations ended in a fight or crying but there was always plenty of discussions! And, there was plenty of laughter too. I remember when I was very young my Mom taught us table manners (funny thought, eh) and we couldn’t wait to see if Dad would start eating before he put his napkin on his lap or saying grace…. BUSTED! It was always more fun catching your parent(s) not following the rules than you. And when we were little, there were no phone calls allowed after 6 pm. As I got older, it was 9 pm. That rule was meant for everyone; parents and kids…. no exceptions. We tested this of course; we tested everything. But again, there were rules…. they were to keep our family structure and family interaction sound.
I have realized that I need to be more aware of all of the “outside” noise that sometimes makes us forget that time is fleeting and sacred. So fleeting in fact, that just yesterday, my son was just a baby, and then I blinked…. next thing I knew he was five, sneezed and he was nine, and now he’s twelve. I don’t want to look back and wish I had spent more quality time. I want him to laugh, and cry; to sing, and yell…. with me….. So tonight, the TV was turned off…. the phones were off…. we talked and laughed…..it was joyous.
What do you do to keep the “outside” noise, outside?
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