I had the rare opportunity of going on a date with my wonderful daughter yesterday. I hunkered down, swallowed all my desire for a sushi dinner, and accepted whatever my number one little lady wanted to do. Her choice for this meal of uninterrupted mommy time was Red Robin. It’s not that I am unable to enjoy a meal at Red Robin—it was what followed that became the true problem.
I have not been quiet about my distaste for screen time. I recently read an article that further vindicated my strong feelings over these stinking screens. It’s not that I’m so hung up on doing art projects and sing-a-longs that having my children distracted from engaging with me is the problem. Au contraire!
Rather, my issue is that my kids become lazy, aggressive monsters who I cannot deal with after spending any time watching television, playing X-box, or with their noses in the iPad. I’m aware of this problem from their constant daily exposure. So don’t confuse this argument—we embrace screens around here like they are oxygen. But it doesn’t mean that I like it.
Coming off of 30 minutes on the X-box (which of course is never actually 30 minutes because there’s always just one more thing that he needs to do) the pent up aggression my eldest puts towards his brother or sister is equivalent to NHL players throwing players into the glass. The difference is that he literally just spent 30 minutes virtually doing that. The energy he has to burn that has been stewing from the virtual experience is damaging to all parties involved.
So I am constantly (even if it means taking my children out in public which I’m not too fond of either) doing everything in my power to get them away from the constant screens.
So you can imagine how thrilled I was when we sat down to this intimate dinner date and my daughter instantly started playing with the “entertainment” screen that Red Robin provides every table. After all my demands to step away from the device, she finally settled with putting it to the side. She spent the remainder of our dinner date being mad at me for forbidding the stinking device. I had dreams of us giggling like schoolgirls, talking about our week. I had envisioned us discussing our hopes for the upcoming week. We were supposed to be getting in some much needed bonding time! Instead, she spent the time either saying that I ruined our outing by forbidding the screen or working to figure out how to undermine me and still use it! Mission failed.
Upon completion of her food, she figured out how to actually get the thing to work. When it came time to pay the bill, I was instructed to pay on the device. Fine, it’s often hard to find your waiter when you want to pay—I understand the potential convenience. However, I was defaulted to pay 25% gratuity to my waiter who is not even presenting me with a bill! Then I was charged $2 for my daughter playing with the ridiculous device. Despite delicious food, I left with a general bad taste in my mouth.
I would be lying if I didn’t say there are some times when we use our cell phones to pacify our children at dinner. We have three children and only two cell phones, so there are potentially times when Red Robin’s entertainment devices could come in handy.
However, I strongly resent having a device at a family restaurant when you sit down. Families go out for dinner to avoid the distractions at home. Is it so wrong for me to expect Red Robin to help encourage that? Is it too much to ask for them to provide tools that allow for clever discussion topics, family friendly games, or other ways to actually engage with your family rather than distract? Is it possible that this is what is wrong with our society in general?
It seems completely unfair that the restaurant would provide without my permission another excuse for my family to be fighting over screens—and then charge me for it.