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    Applebees and Flat-Screened TV’s

    July 29, 2010

    The other day I went to Applebees for a little R&R (Ruthie and Rebecca).  The two kids had Bookworm Club cards to redeem for free meals. Settling happily atop spinning seats, we ordered lunch, and began working our way through the trivia and puzzles on the kids’ menus. Not five minutes into our “girls’ day out,” the restaurant manager glided over asked my children what TV station would suit their dining pleasure. That’s when I looked around and counted nine flat-screen TV’s in our immediate seating area. Beyond that, I stopped counting after eighteen.

    I wish I could tell you that in that instant, I politely told the man that the decision was up to me, the mother, and that my girls and I were spending quality time together–which for us, translates into the dying art of dinner conversation. I wish I could say that I sent him slinking away, red-eared, with the remote control cradled in his armpit. But caught off guard by his strange offer, I heard myself sheepishly reply,  “Do you get Animal Planet?” And with a click, our girl-time went down the drain as R & R sat mesmerized by a show on the rescue of abused and decaying dogs. When it got graphic enough to elicit more than a few frowns from neighboring tables, Channel Surfer turned the girls’ attention to another screen, flashing with transformable superheroes and villains.

    Sitting there watching my two young barstool potatoes, I felt violated. I had not put my work on hold and driven twenty-five miles in a gas-guzzling Suburban and eaten corporate American, transfatty food to let my kids vegetate in front of a TV screen.  And yet I realized this is where we’ve come to as a nation. Families that spend mealtimes staring at the tube, stuffing their mouths full and ignoring each other, are no longer confined to the American living room. “TV dinners” are now a dining-out sensation. Applebees, I guess it really is “a whole new neighborhood.”

    2 thoughts on “Applebees and Flat-Screened TV’s

    1. Anonymous says:

      Yep…I’m not a parent but I sure see this where I am and how there is no family time anymore. Just on the go TV, iPods and psp players (hmm I might have written that wrong). When do they sit at the dining room table? Holidays only..otherwise in front of the TV. Good thoughts, as usual, Faith. Debi

    2. Anonymous says:

      Hello – just met you through my best friend. Yes, you are right on. I raised 5 children and although we ate meals at the table when they were young – their father just couldn’t turn off the tv. As they grew older we ate and had the tv on. I am making the same mistake with my grandson who is 7 and who I am babysitting for a good part of the summer. Thanks for the wake-up call. I knew it – but just get caught up in what everyone else is doing. I hate the tv for so many reasons. It has robbed me of a great marriage. Write on dear on – we need people like you!

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