Jennybondurant’s Blog

Mixed Messages @ Pizza Hut

Posted in Family by jennybondurant on January 14, 2009

Last night, I took the kids in for family night at Pizza Hut (kids eat free!). They rushed the bookcase by the door as soon as we walked in, then plopped down on the bench to read as we¬† waited for a table. They took the books with them when we headed toward the table. I knew chances were they wouldn’t read them after they hit the pizza, but it’s nice to have them there anyway.

Pizza buffet – no waiting for food, trying to pacify starving kids – no dirty dishes to contend with at home – room full of families, no worries about how loud or silly the kids get during dinner. I was looking forward to pleasant time with the kids, talking about their day. However, Mom can’t compete with F/X. Their eyes quickly became glued to the television suspended from the ceiling near our booth.

There was no sound, so my 5-year-old niece Haley askedwhy we couldn”t hear it. “Because it would be too loud with everyone talking in here,” I explained. I tried to draw her into conversation, but it was hard to make eye contact as she tried to follow the show she couldn’t hear. It wasn’t not long before the other kids were glued as well, excited that someone changed the channel to iCarly. Even two-year-old Lia moved her booster seat to the floor, positioned perfectly for viewing.

“Do you want more pizza?” I asked three times before anyone heard me. “Did you get enough to eat? What did you have for lunch at school? What did you play at recess?” I carried on a one-sided conversation, determined to not give up. “Pay attention! Enjoy the family time!” I wanted to say, but forcing it seemed to ruin the point of an enjoyable Family Night.

Pizza Hut does a great job of supporting local reading through its Book It program for students. I just wish they left T.V. out of the restaurant. Our society hides behind technology enough, texting instead of talking, staring at the television instead of really seeing each other. Can’t we just eat some pizza and talk? Laugh when someone shoots their straw paper across the table? Marvel at how many pieces the kids can eat, or debate why cheese pizza is the best and how they will never eat black olives?

Before we left, Haley looked at the screen and picked up a word from her newly growing reading vocabulary. “G-O- Go,” she said proudly. I scanned the subtitle at the bottom of the screen and assured her she was right.

At least she was reading something. And it was time to go.