Meaningful Parenting - One 'Sobremesa a day' - There is nothing great about a family meal except
Family meals should be device free.
Except that in a culture of 'INSTANT' & 'DISTRACTION', one family meal is where
One disconnects to connect. A frenzied screen life(that's how I define our regular life today) finds some time to stop by and look beyond the screen.
Google university is replaced by life's important lessons shared via experience.
A meal is appreciated. They say eating is a necessity but cooking is an art. And the person who cooks for the family blends labour and love with art to present the plate that comes before you. How can one not appreciate and feel grateful? And food definitely tastes better when you eat it with your family.
And nutrition blends with togetherness to provide a complete experience to the body.Nutrition is not only about eating right and eating healthy. If the food on the plate does not have a sense of emotion to it, the nutritious meal can hardly matter. The emotions come from family.The emotions of sharing, bonding and connecting with each other. A connectivity which no telecom service or internet service can provide.
A personal story
'My father loved family meals. I do not know why and how he found this habit so essential. Morning breakfast use to be a rush, we didn't meet him for lunch so all we had was a family dinner. He loved talking and was vocal about his emotions. He talked about everything, how his day at work was, the conversations he had with his colleagues and managers, his working style, work ethics, problems encountered and also his appraisals. He hid less and expressed more. Mum would contribute to his talks and also narrate about her day, some relevant and some irrelevant talks about neighbours and some relative phone calls, the maid servant and her school. And we would add our little tit bits of broken crayons and a pencil a friend had which glowed in dark.
That was one place, one time and one atmosphere in a day where we connected with each other not only through common food on the plate but through a unifying emotion of belonging to each other. I still remember how I kept thinking about my father's poor appraisal rating and how worried he was. I didn't know about appraisals then, I was all of maybe 12 or 13 but I was with him in my own little way. When I lost the elocution contest, he was there with me in his own little way. My elder brother was with me in his own little way when I had my Maths exam next day. That is what family meals were about- STORIES. These stories were shared every day. Stories of hard work and success, stories of neighbours and relatives, stories of failures and disappointments. Stories which held us together, stories which reverberated within us long after dinner was over and we retired to our rooms. Regular life stories shared on a dining table over a simple or an exotic meal. Not every story was beautiful. Many times the dining table has been witness to silent family meals interrupted by a clatter of a serving spoon or somebody asking for a second serving. Even in that silence, stories were heard. But as they say, every story had a lesson and I learnt the most important lessons of my life on the dining table. Not to forget that these stories shaped my thoughts about my career and I owe a lot to the dining table for what I am today.
Today when I see my 4-year-old sharing his little tit bit and my husband getting distracted by this tiny gadget in his hand, I wonder whether I would be able to carry on the tradition which my father started. I fail to understand the power, the potential and the omnipresence of a tiny screen in life which is ready to put an end to what I consider a priority of every family. As I give a stern look to my husband, he hastily shoves the device and asks my son ‘So, what were you saying?’ My son replies, ‘I told my Kaushik that my father can fix anything in this world. He is the best.’
As I keep away the dirty dishes, I find myself fighting a battle in my mind. My biggest enemy today is that tiny gadget, a small screen pinging incessantly and the world ready to gratify me instantly. I am Applefied, I am Facebooked, I am Amazoned. Will I learn to live again or is this the new life? I sleep with this battle, checking the FB messages that came while I was cooking, putting an alarm on my phone to wake me up and placing an order for a Lego blocks on Amazon.
It's what you do in Spain after a meal, but is there anything that stops you from trying it where you live especially when it gives you a window to connect with your near and dear ones? Maybe the small device, the gadget.
While sobremesa literally means "over the table, it's the time spent after a meal, hanging out with family or friends, chatting and enjoying each other's company. A meaningful and quality time spent at the dinner table chatting on various subject of interest.
Namrata Singh is an Author, a Life Coach dedicated to helping people get what they aspire for in their lives. She taps into their own inner reserves to create a fulfilling life and believes- 'Do not give up on yourself...YET'.