‘Phubbing’ And Other Wisdoms: A Family Forming Memories

Larissa Dann 25th April 2017 (updated 27th April 2017)

Four people (three generations) in a car for five days, travelling over 2,000 kilometres along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia. This was our family, investing time in laying down memories for the future, while fulfilling one of the items on my Dad’s bucket list.

Experiences such as this provide opportunities for reflection. Here is some of what I learned:

* ‘Phubbing’ – it’s a thing, and I’m guilty. ‘Phubbing’ refers to ‘the practice of ignoring one's companion or companions in order to pay attention to one's phone or other mobile device.’ My teenager looked across at me on the first day, telling me to put down my phone and look out the window, or talk to her. I, of course, had my excuses. But that day, my daughter taught me, once again, that the young have wisdom beyond their years. What was I doing, modelling the very behaviour I did not want to see from my own children? My phone stayed put (relatively) for the rest of the journey.

* Patience and acceptance. None of us were perfect, but we accepted and (perhaps unintentionally) decided to live with each other’s quirks because we respected each other, and wanted to enjoy the trip.

* Empathy. I was continually reminded of, awed by, and grateful for, my teenage daughter’s empathy and bond with her grandfather.

* Appreciating our surroundings. Walking at the pace of an octogenarian (two hip replacements and a walking stick) slows you down (much as walking with a curious toddler), and increases the appreciation of what we were seeing. That 400 m, half-hour rainforest walk? Took us an hour to tour the track, but we were awed by the glistening veins of the fig tree; we inhaled the mist-soaked scent of humus and greenery; we brushed our dampened hair from our forehead. We truly comprehended the beauty of what we were experiencing.

* Taking the time. My father is Mr Curiosity-On-Legs, and an Absorber Of Knowledge. Every piece of writing, every explanatory sign, has to be investigated and poured over. ‘Where’s your grandfather?’ I’d ask my daughter. ‘Reading that sign back there’ would be the inevitable answer. I’d look back, and there he would be, leaning on his stick, bending close to decode the words that explained this particular piece of history. For the entire trip he looked out the window, drinking in the changing countryside, or studying a map to find out where we were now, or where we were headed.

The power of his modelling, his unhurried pace, inspired all of us to invest the time in learning about each place we visited.

* Who needs technology? We rediscovered paper maps, and relearned (or learned, in the case of my daughter) how to live without phone, GPS or internet. Just like the old days. And survived!

* An enhanced appreciation of family and friends. We met with family from both sides, whom we had not seen for years. My father caught up with an old friend of his, and we listened with laughter, as these two gentlemen relived tales of mischievous younger days and adventures.

* Timely and genuine apologies and acknowledgement were essential for the instances when I was less than courteous to my long-suffering partner.

* A rediscovery of the power and beauty of the country in which we live. Roiling seas, rock stacks surrounded by ocean and craggy bluffs, misted gullies, unique wildlife. An appreciation of human endeavour: hand dug cliff-side roads, lighthouses, ancient farmhouses. A reminder that food is produced, not simply bought from the supermarket. Rolling past our car windows was the ingenuity that provided the food on which we survive: grazing sheep and cattle; vast hectares of rich black soil being sown; crops being harvested; grain in silos as high as an apartment block; milk in vats that seemed to reach the sky.

* Experiences mean more than money.  There is an opportunity cost for every spending decision we make - for example, 'holidays, or stuff'. As I watched the scenery race by, I wondered (very briefly) whether we would have been better off to spend our holiday money on a new phone for my daughter, or new carpet, or the latest kitchen gadget. Really? What price the building of my daughter's lived knowledge of her world; the cementing of family relationships through shared experience; the formation of memories for life?  Truly, this trip was value for money, in more ways than one.

* Gratitude.

  • Grateful that my father was well enough to withstand a potentially gruelling trip.
  • Grateful that we made the time to spend the time with Dad, because he is on borrowed time.
  • Grateful for a patient and generous husband.
  • Grateful for every single minute spent in the company of my delightful daughter.

Grateful for my entire family, and for our fortune in being able to travel.

Grateful for the opportunity to lay down these memories. As my daughter grows into adulthood, and my father declines, I will seek these memories for solace, and peace.

© Larissa Dann. 2017. All rights reserved.


Phubbing (phone snubbing) happens more in the bedroom than when socialising with friends.


This is a lovely blog Larissa. You rounded it off well with 'gratitude'. This is something we all need to remember.

Thank you. I did a lot of reflection during that trip, and gratitude was always there - and something I (we) need to remember every day. Thank you for reminding me!

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