#2 and I were at breakfast this morning making boxes out of business cards that we then stacked or tossed back and forth.
At a nearby table a parent and child sat across from each other. Between them stood like a portable barrier the parent’s open laptop. The parent occasionally glanced over the top of the screen at the child before turning attention back to the laptop’s screen. Among the programs tiled across the screen were a browser window, an email window, and a Facebook window. While the parent was constantly occupied, the child sat for minutes having nothing more to do than stare at the cover of an open laptop. Analogous scenes can be seen everywhere these days, whether its looking over a phone, a laptop, an iPad, or whatever.
After I walked #2 into school (late as we often are when we’ve gone to breakfast), I began to wonder:
- What message are we parents sending when we divide our time between electronic gadgets and our children?
- What is so important about Facebook or the web or email that we can’t turn it off for 15 minutes in the morning while we have breakfast with our progeny?
- Why do we get upset when children don’t pay attention to us when we don’t pay attention to them?
- What memories will that child have? Are those the memories we want them to take with them into adulthood?
Soon enough #1 and #2 aren’t going to want to spend time with me. And when they do, they will have their own email or Facebook or Twitter or Vine or Instagram or [fill in the next big distraction] feed that they “must” check. I want to be with them while they are still with me.