staying connected

by humanmama on January 21, 2013

The thing about kids is that they’re like this incredible mirror. Beautiful sunset? Kids radiate the beauty in the world right back to you a million-fold. Happy morning? Kids have (well, at least until about age six or seven) this amazing ability to bounce out of bed with a smile on their face–3 hours of sleep or 12. But they mirror back the hard stuff, too. Feeling mad because they’re making you late? Guess who’s actually the late one? And the real kicker: hearing them say rude, horrible, mean things–and knowing just whose voice said those things the first time (here’s a hint: I’m startin’ with the man in the mirror…).

But there’s a new one. The smartphone. It’s not just bad language, it’s bad habits, and I see them everywhere we go. We just got smartphones, Carpenter and I did, this last week. And I already hate them. Why? Yes, they’re beautiful, fun, useful, and truly amazing. But they are just insidious enough to make parents think the kids don’t notice this, it’s only a few minutes, while your kids are suffering. Yep, I said suffering. For just a minute or two from me (and you) away from our phones.

I read Hands Free Mama-How to Miss A Childhood today and it really hit home. I’ve had the smartphone for about a week and I can already feel it creeping into the family time, both on my part and the Carp’s. And, I know I can’t change your life. But please, I urge you to join with me. Once a day, put the phone down. Just leave it. Maybe turn off the ringer for an hour. Don’t take it from the car to the school during drop off. Your kids might not notice the phone’s absence, but they’ll probably notice something else: your presence.

It doesn’t have to be all the time. For us, we saw immediately that the phone needs to be out of the dining room, especially during meals. There are absolutely zero times when something is SO SUPER URGENT that it can’t wait until dinner is done in–what?–ten minutes maximum?

A friend lost her stepdaughter this week and it just broke my heart for her. I can’t even imagine the number of parents this year who will have to make that walk out of a hospital, or house, or school, or neighborhood and know they’ll never see their child alive again. So what better gift to give them while they’re here on earth with us than to just put our damn phones down? It’s okay. Facebook and Twitter will still be there after bedtime. So will Pintrest and Words with Friends. I think together we can do it–make this world more in touch so it doesn’t continue to be people texting people from 6 feet away. I believe my kids will learn and maintain the art of conversation. But we need to do it together.

Somehow this world has become more about social networking than being social. But it’s not too late–I think we can conquer it together. We can come together and really be present with our families.

At least, there’s gotta be an App to show us how. Right?

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wolfgang October 23, 2014 at 6:46 pm

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