Get the kids to put the phones away to play

By Grainne McCool   @grainnemccool

I was a mother to three young boys not long ago and I know how difficult it can be to keep children occupied when in a public place to eat.

We all want our children to behave in a perfect way when sitting in a restaurant and surrounded by other people but of course sometimes that just isn’t possible.

Last week, my husband and I, went to dinner with our two now adult sons.  Shortly after we ordered our food, I noticed that my sons and I were on our mobile phones.

I soon realised that I often frown when I see other families hooked in to their phones, so I immediately put my mobile in my bag.

As both boys are well over 18, I suggested they ease up on the phones while we eat, but I wasn’t forcing the issue. They are grown men and this appears to be socially acceptable now.

When I arrived out for dinner once again, last bank holiday weekend, I was delighted to see a very different sight, in a Rathmullan, Co Donegal, restaurant where my husband and I were eating.

As we sat down looking out on Lough Swilly, I noticed two children at the table beside us playing on mobile phones. I didn’t take too much notice until another young family arrived and sat behind us.

Three young girls, aged from five to 10 sat at the table adjacent to their parents. Each little girl had a doll in hand. They insisted on sitting at the table beside their parents to enable each doll to also have a seat beside their rightful owners.

As the parents sat one table away, the conversation flowed between both tables about dinner and dolls. The three little girls took turns to talk to the parents and then their fellow doll. It was a sight to behold.

It seems mobile phones are never far away today
It seems mobile phones are never far away today

I then took more notice of the two children sitting at the table beside us whereby the little boy and girl continued to play on mobile phones. The parents talked among themselves and the technological hobby amused the young folk.

I began to think how lovely it was to watch these other children use their imagination to its full and enjoy eating on this family outing with their dolls.

The tradition of good old fashioned doll play is still very much alive. Each little girl was different in her own way. Each doll in turn was different. And yet they were connected in this imaginary world of play and reality.

Before I left I spoke to the mother and said how lovely it was to see the girls playing with dolls as opposed to technology. She smiled and said a simple ‘thank you’.

As my husband and I left the restaurant I smiled at the girls and said ‘hi’ to the dolls. The giggles followed me out the door. 

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