The other afternoon I was at swim class with my two older girls at the Y (otherwise known as the quickest way to suck all parental joy from one’s heart). Between the whining, the hair pulling swim caps and the tortuous showers afterward (“The water is too hot! The water is too cold! Too hot! Too cold!”), you start to wonder if knowledge of the doggie paddle is sufficient enough for youngsters.
So there I am at swim class and I text my husband with specific instructions for dinner for the twins (who are at home) and for my older girls because they will be starving when they get back to the house.
An hour later, I walk in the door and I say…
“Did you get my text?”
“No,” he responds.
“What?!! How is that possible? You are the man who looks at his phone so often for every breaking news item that you knew Dick Clark died before his family did and you didn’t see my text? I don’t get it. What is the point of texting you if you don’t read it? I wanted the twins fed and I wanted dinner ready for the girls. I’ve been at the Y for 2 hours and you can’t bother to look at your phone?!”
But then, somewhere between ranting and raving, I realized something…
Rick had fed the twins. And then he was so busy playing with them that he hadn’t glanced at his phone. He was truly present for our children.
And we could all use a little more of that.
Often I’m out with my kids at a playground or museum and I see a lot of this…
Parents looking down. Not a their gorgeous, growing way too fast children. At their phones. Which aren’t gorgeous. Or growing at all.
And it depresses me.
I have to fight the addiction too.
The other day, 5-year-old Summer asked me to play Barbie dolls with her. Unlike reading a book, playing a game, jumping on the trampoline or doing an art project, the imaginary play can feel a little bit… umm…. slow.
But I love my daughter and she loves Barbies so I said, “Yes!” And then I think I made it a whole 16 minutes before I glanced at my phone. In my defense, it was a very productive 16 minutes where I dressed a lot of Barbie dolls for a big party and they all had chicken and cake for dinner and then went horseback riding and then to their jobs as veterinarians.
Maybe we all need to put our phones down more often and start talking. Even if those conversations are about chicken and cake for dinner and then going horseback riding and back to our jobs as veterinarians.
In a recent New York Times article called, The Flight From Conversation, the author Sherry Turkle concludes by saying “Not long ago, people walked (on Cape Cod beaches) with their heads up, looking at the water, the sky, the sand and at one another, talking. Now they often walk with their heads down, typing. Even when they are with friends, partners, children, everyone is on their devices.”
Ugh. Have we passed up a sweeping view of the ocean to ‘Like’ something on Facebook?
I really hope not.
But I do think we all could type a bit less and look up more. Perhaps spend fewer hours focused on our smart phones and pay more attention to those gorgeous faces.