A few days before that, I was standing in line at CVS, waiting to pay. I saw another dad engrossed in his iPhone as his two children – a boy and a girl - stood about five feet away from him eating a pack of M&M’s. We've all been there. Throw a snack at them to keep them quiet. But I heard the little girl, who was maybe four, call her dad’s name. Her attempt to get his attention fell on deaf ears. Whatever had filled his inbox was much more important.
I don’t like to judge other parents. I'd rather give everyone the benefit of the doubt. What works for you might not necessarily work for me. But in all honestly, it bothered me so much because that used to be me. I was that guy. These dads - and me before them - are just a few in a sea of distracted parents who are missing opportunities to engage and enlighten their children. Knowing I was that guy, watching other parents do it is heartbreaking and frustrating.
|They're all off|
What going hands free has done, more important than actually talking to Peanut, is force us to listen to her. When we're done listening, we respond. We have a conversation. That email, that game of Angry Birds, that tweet can wait. As hard as it has been for me to admit, the world can wait for my witty retort to someone's status update. It’s so trivial compared to what Peanut is saying, asking, wondering.
Technology is not worth interrupting my time with Peanut. She deserves more than two hours. But that’s all she gets right now; so she's going to get my undivided attention. If you include commuting and wireless communication, work gets me for at least twelve hours a day. That’s plenty. Everything can wait until Peanut is tucked away in bed.
I must admit, it's not easy. But at the same time, it's wonderfully liberating. Eye-opening, even. And Peanut notices. She's happy. Content. She is getting what she deserves: all of us.
I'd be lying if I didn't admit there are slip-ups. I’m just sharing what I consider a revelation. An awakening from a tech junkie who can very well become consumed with Facebook, Twitter, email, and blogging. But not at the expense of my daughter. Not at the expense of what she considers important. Not anymore. What she wants to do, and talk about, is what matters most. Even if she's vegging out on the couch watching Doc McStuffins after school, I am right there with her. Singing, commenting, engaging. The laptop safely tucked away, no longer on my lap.
One day Peanut will look back at her childhood. She’ll remember the big things, of course. And she’ll remember some little things as well. I just want to make sure she remembers her dad was watching her and not consumed by the glow of a little screen.