The day began with the anticipation of exciting travel to a warmer climate combined with the boredom of heading south on Interstate 95. My wife and I had plans for a visit to South Florida, spending two weeks relaxing with family and friends and to get out of the South Carolina chill. What transpired next brought back rewarding memories of my son’s and daughter’s youth, which I would like to relive. Let me share an event that brought back these memories.
After four hours into our trip, it was about time for lunch so we decided to stop at one of our favorite nonfast-food restaurants for a break and a fast bite. After receiving our lunch, we were discussing activities we might do once we reached our destination when a father and his young daughter sat down at a table near ours.
He was casually dressed, looked athletic and appeared to be successful. His daughter, who was very pretty with blond hair, was about 6 or 7. No doubt she was dressed perfectly by her mother for a special time with dad. She appeared to be enjoying her lunchtime outing with her father because her excitement was quite evident.
What happened next was what brought back memories and many questions of my daughter’s youth and my relationship with her (little girls are easier about which to recall old memories compared to boys).
Once the father and daughter sat down with their meal, he immediately brought out his smartphone and began working or surfing the web. His daughter began trying to talk to him without much success. (If it appears I was being nosey, I wasn’t).
I was impressed with her perseverance because she continued to try to get his full attention, even with his face in his phone.
There didn’t seem to be much of a conversation between father and daughter but she continued her effort. She appeared to be enjoying herself and looked as though she was happy just being with her dad even though he was somewhere else on his phone.
If he only knew that someday in the distant future his lack of involvement and concern for his little girl at that lunch date will probably generate a memory that he would like to relive.
The memories of the times with my daughter came back. Was I like this father at the next table with my daughter (sans cell phone), not paying attention and ignoring our special time together?
When on outings with her was I thinking about my next golf game, next tennis match or an upcoming business opportunity and neglecting her the way the young dad was? Probably. Even though I am still close with my daughter, I would still like to have those early years back and be the dad who would sit and listen, answer questions, carry on a conversation and be content to just be with her. Those years when she was little are memories deeply ingrained and it is important not to forget them.
At that point, I asked my wife if should I go over to him and explain that one day in the distant future he will wish that he had the opportunity to relive this lunch with his daughter without a smartphone.
Of course, she told me it would not be a good idea to interfere and suggested we get on with our trip.
I couldn’t help thinking about the father and daughter during the continuation of our trip. It made me realize the importance of spending quality time with your children while they are young, do it with enthusiasm, involvement and love. You will never be able to relive those special moments again.
Dick Porter and his wife, Arlene, live on Daniel Island. They have two children and three grandchildren. Porter has had diversified experience in the health care industry and also has worked with Dow Chemical Co. and in the pharmaceutical industry.