The other day I read a spot-on post by a mother lamenting the fact that her kids don’t look out at the river when they’re driving. Instead, their faces are buried in touch screens.
Screw my kids’ appreciation. What about my burning desire to stare at a touch screen?
I stand at the playground and challenge myself to see how long I can hold off checking texts. Sometimes I make it two and a half minutes…if Colton isn’t gleefully stealing toys from younger kids.
Once I’ve extracted the phone and glanced at the home page alerts, I might as well swipe, punch my code, and see if emails jumped from 13 to 14. Maybe a life-changing message arrived in the ninety seconds since I slipped the phone into my pocket (to unload the stroller).
Yes, I was scrolling HuffPost while pushing the stroller to the playground. I might not have looked up as I crossed streets, dodged an old lady using a walker, and avoided dog poop.
Busy bodies might think I never looked up to steer my precious cargo to the playground. They’re correct. I didn’t look up. And they’re jealous: because I’m capable of walking, texting and steering simultaneously.
Back to the playground, I do interact with my kids. I’ll chase them and toss them in the air. But they need to learn to play with other kids and entertain themselves. When they’re distracted by others, I pull out my phone. A glance around the playground proves I’m not the only one. Every other care-giver (mostly nannies) are on their phones.
On the off-chance that one of my kids gets in a tussle or is crying for some inconvenient reason, I can justify my momentary immersion in Tumblr: “Well at least I’m not a helicopter parent.”
Grandparents are the worst. I can feel their judgmental eyes on me as I tweet. “What are you looking at, Granny?” I want to yell. “You aren’t here every mind-numbing day! My kids know this playground better than you know your medicine cabinet. I need to eavesdrop on Facebook to see which of my frienemies is posting annoyingly-creative projects with their kids to make me feel inadequate. Allow me this jaded time to myself!”
I feel genuinely guilty at the swings. I normally have some peek-a-boo/under-dog time with them at the beginning. And then, I swear, their faces become more zombie-like than when watching PBS Kids. So I might as well see if a critical email arrived within the last 47 seconds.
People, it’s HARD to be a parent in the internet age. I want to stare at screens more than my kids do. I want to monitor four email accounts on my phone (I’m that important), make an online grocery order on my computer, and stream BOARDWALK EMPIRE on my iPad. If I don’t do these things simultaneously, we won’t have Greek yogurt and I won’t find out if Nucky Thompson gets his comeuppance.
Meanwhile, I have these rugrats asking me to come play Thomas the Train. Yet I’m not actually allowed to touch any of the trains. Ellison has positioned them diorama-like on the tracks and he screams if I touch one of them. What’s the point?
Can I please just go binge-watch bootlegging gangsters while scrolling Instagram?
I love you, Gavin!!! You ALWAYS have great way of making me feel like I just might win Mom of the Year whenever I am second guessing my parenting styles.
As the saying goes, “to each their own.” Or as the Jewish proverb suggests, “Do not limit your child to your own education, for he was born in another time.” This bit of wisdom seems both timely and timeless to me, and is beautifully explored in the relationship between Tevye and his daughters in my ALL time favorite musical “Fiddler on the Roof.” L’CHAIM!