By Yvonne Sam
Here we are, nearing Mother’s day, and already fear of a strange nature is invading my cranium. No it’s not attributable to commercialism, the over-played expectation of cards, or meals out and chocolates. Mother’s Day is one national day that I could not possibly argue with.
What mother does not deserve a day of recognition and reward? Where would we all be without our mothers—apart from not even being here in the first place! When we speak of mothers our praises never become clichés.
According to Erma Bombeck, motherhood is the second oldest profession and the largest on the job training program. Mothers are the original designated hitters, they go to bat for their children wherever they are.
However, there has been one rather significant and rather calamitous change. All in all it is a sad development that truly sours many a home visit or restaurant gathering, but is particularly damaging on a day when the happiness of family are supposed to be the main focus: the arrival of the mobile phone at table.
I do not for the briefest of moment, think that there is anything more pitiable than the sight of a mother and father conversing, amiably, over long-stemmed glasses of wine, accompanied by grown adult children whose eyes are transfixed on the screens of their I Pad, tablet or notebook, as if in a trance.
What is the point of taking your mother from her home to a restaurant if most of your time is going to be spent checking your emails or updating your accounts. Mom may have gone to considerable lengths to have her hair done, and dressed up for her special day and you will barely notice. It has simply passed you by.
None of these things will be remembered — the pictures on the restaurant walls, or even the presentation of the food on Mom’s plate, let alone any snatches of genuine conversation that might take place.
Instead grown adults, who are children of the Mother’s Day celebrant, will spend that special time in the restaurant doing exactly what they have been doing every day for the past dozen or so years — checking a tiny, lit screen, swiping at photos, punching out a message. How ludicrous and pathetic!
This whole repugnant scenario is made infinitely worse on special occasions such as Mother’s Day, when family members are expected to be showing respect to an older person, namely their mother.
I am running the risk of sounding like a spoiler, but it is my fervent wish that soon restaurants would introduce No Phone Zones, similar to the current No Smoking ones. Will it work? I sincerely hope so.
Research has shown that 54 percent of people said that the constant checking of phones at the dinner table is the most likely cause of dinner time arguments.
If my wish is realized, I can see many other restaurants following suit because, in addition to the behaviour being horribly insulting, the checking of phones is also a nasty and insidious snub to the restaurant, a form of arrogance that declares, “I know you’ve spent a lot of time preparing food, laundering tablecloths, thinking carefully about your décor and ambience but I am going to carry on playing Candy Crush/ Angry Birds regardless. After all, do not forget I am paying”.
So to all mothers everywhere, be they biological, non-biological or merely standing in the gap, Happy Mother’s Day!
Permit me to give you a noteworthy gem of advice on your special day. If when you take your seat, and before the meal is ordered, you find yourself surrounded by family members musing over their mobiles, simply beckon the waiter over and say: “Actually, I think we have finished here, would you mind giving me the bill?”
Expect to be stared at as if you have suddenly parted company with your senses. When the hungry family complains just say in a direct tone, “It is either that or put your phones away, I am not allowing any of you to spoil my day.
It’s your day after all! Have some fun, until the day is done!
Yvonne Sam, a retired Head Nurse and Secondary School Teacher, is Vice-president of the Guyana Cultural Association of Montreal. A regular columnist for over two decades with the Montreal Community Contact, her insightful and incursive articles on topics ranging from politics, human rights and immigration, to education and parenting have also appeared in the Huffington Post, Montreal Gazette, XPressbogg and Guyanese OnLine. She is also the recipient of the Governor General of Canada Caring Canadian Citizen Award.