There’s a new phone app for families that is like frequent flier reward programmes for travellers. Instead of receiving reward points for enduring long amounts of time in airline seats, you receive a box of rewards at the end of every month for enduring long amounts of time with family.
The message is clear — we may be related by blood, birth, marriage or adoption, but if you want me to spend time with you, I’m going to need some tangibles.
Listen, I’m not saying it’s an idea without merit. Who hasn’t tossed a small reward to kids in the backseat for finishing a long car trip without arguing? Who hasn’t promised ice cream in exchange for good behaviour?
Rewards for unloading the dishwasher and putting away clean laundry?
I’ll take ‘em!
In any case, here is how the family reward app works.
First, grab your phone, even though chances are it is already in your hands. Yes, open the very device that constantly dings, chimes, interrupts, disrupts, chips away at family time and tints your face an eerie shade of blue.
Download the app. Make sure it loads and installs. Stare at the little circle slowly filling in, even if it means ignoring living, breathing humans within reach who may be attempting to interact with you.
‘Not now! I’m busy!’
Now, set up an account. With fingers flying, enter name, address, phone, all the usual.
‘Just hold on a minute!’
Now enter your personal credit card to pay for your rewards box that will be sent monthly if you reach your time together goals — and even if you don’t reach your goals.
Next, enter detailed goals for family time together.
‘No, I can’t read you a book right now.’
Now chart chores for each family member.
‘Give me a minute, would you? I’m working on our family together time.’
Great. You are now ready to go to the memo area where family members can interact by logging in and posting messages for one another.
‘Hey sweetheart, I‘m still in the other room. Why don’t you come in here so we can spend some time together and log it into the family app?’
‘You said you were busy.’
‘I’m not busy now. Come in here.’
‘No. You come in here.’
The text battle continues, the emoticons get sadder and sadder and more face-to-face time is lost.
You want to connect with family and friends? Put the phone down. Step away from the computer. Look into the eyes of your child, your spouse, your good friend, your mother, your father, your sister, your brother, your niece or your nephew and sincerely ask, ‘How are you? How’s life going?’
Then stay put. Don’t dash off. Don’t look away.
Listen. Just listen. With both ears and both eyes, be fully in the moment. Each time we do that, we’ve connected, eyeball to eyeball, heart to heart.
What better reward could there be than that?
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