We’ve seen it coming. It’s been like watching a train wreck getting ready to happen. Whistles blowing, cars stuck on the track and nothing we could do about it.

It’s the extinction, demise, disappearance – whatever you’d like to call it – of the dining room table.

I’m not smart enough to analyze the elements that are wrapped up in that one little thing but I’m pretty sure it’s important.

I don’t care where the table is – dining room, kitchen, family room – or what it looks like, whether plastic, wood, counter-top or a board on top of a bunch of bricks. That’s not what matters, of course.

What matters is that families eat together, talk to each other, look at each other – not at their phones, laptops or televisions.

I know you see it when you go out to lunch or dinner. Families with their faces buried in their electronics. Families in cars on their phones, sometimes texting to the person sitting next to them. Families at the beach with fingers on the phone and not in the sand.

It’s everywhere.

I’m not saying it’s easy, that families don’t try. I think they do. And sometimes they succeed. Not all is lost.

Kids have after-school programs, athletics, play dates and so much more. Their lives are full of challenges. All those things take a toll on the opportunity to just be a family. Or, to just be.

Life is so busy and programmed for young families. It’s especially hard for single parents. I have no idea how it will play out. I’m not sure anyone does.

I don’t know about you, but (ever so long ago) when I was driving the children from point to point, they assumed I was invisible and had lost my ability to hear, so they talked – to each other. Oh, the things I learned that I needed to know.

Didn’t we gather information just by the tones of our kid’s voices, even if the questions were the old classic ones. “Where did you go today?” “Out.” “What did you do?” “Nothing.”

We learned to hear paragraphs in those two words. How can that happen now? Siri is good, but she can’t let you know your children’s feelings. And there’s so much parents need to know these days.

Remember when we’d say: “If only that table (or that old chair, or those walls) could talk?”

These days, so many of them have no stories to tell.

Sallie Collins enjoys living on the banks of the May River and writes about it in her blog, www.LifeOnTheMay.com, from which this article is taken.