I think we all know how easy it is to get pulled into technology. A phone call, a text, twitter, blogs, Facebook- They all beckon to us with their allure and charm. I think that the stay at home parent may be especially susceptible to this due to the lack of social interaction in our daily lives. So, noticing my draw to text, talk or type I set up guidelines for myself. I try to do time consuming tasks during nap time or night time when Dad's home. Although texting in front of my girls isn't my ideal I have to admit I get pulled into reply to my inbox, however I still respond to them and talk them as I text.
When I leave the house and go to the park or on an outing as a general rule I don't take my cell phone with me on the playground. I keep it close, in case an emergency, but I try to keep texting or phone calls off the playground. The way I see it is If I can't even dedicate play time completely to my kids then I'm not doing my job as a parent and I certainly don't know how to put them first!
Which brings me to my story. I went to the park with Hubs and the girls. It was absolutely packed with family's enjoying their weekend together. Kids were running everywhere, laughing, playing, jumping, sliding- being kids. I noticed one woman who was texting in the corner of the park. She had a girl next to her (around 10 I'd say) who was sitting next her her looking sad and trying to get her attentions. I figured the girl was in time out but and didn't think much more of it.
Like always when we go as a Family we each took a kiddo to supervise and let them go crazy. I had Keeley. Within minutes I was addressed by two little girls (around 6 or 7) who needed help getting on to the zip line. I gave the baby to my husband, lifted them onto the bar, and gave them a push. My husband continued to play with our two kids. After a little while of playing with these girls I started to wonder where their parents were? Why didn't they come over to their children when a stranger was playing with them. What was important enough for them to be doing that they would seek out the attention and help of a stranger?
The girls tired from that game and I returned to my family. We played some more and then I went to nurse Keeley. I noticed the girls were over by the woman on her phone. It appears they were her children as well. The older girl was still in "time out", mom was still ignoring her, and she was clearly aggravated by the girls interrupting her texting. The younger girls left after a short time of begging, the older girl stayed, and the mom continued texting (now smiling at the screen) completely oblivious to where the girls ran off to. She never even looked up at them. I watched her a little longer and noticed the girl start running her fingers through the woman's hair, in a very loving way. She swatted her hands at the girl and told her "stop IT!" and went back to texting.
Now the two younger girls had found my Husband and daughter and asked him to play with them. He didn't feel comfortable (being a man) just playing with random girls at the park, but he encouraged Piper to play with the girls while he was with them. Eventually I finished nursing and went to rejoin my family and the texter's children. In the 45 minutes there, the girls trailed us, and talked to us, and played with our family without mom ever glancing up to see what was going on. The girl in time out never got released to play until were leaving and we left without her doing nothing more than shooing them away and giggling down at her phone.
I felt bad for those girls. I'm by no means claiming perfection- I know I get caught up in things and have had Piper wait for things until I finished a call or text. I understand we all get wrapped up in our lives and technology some times, but that was too much! she didn't care who they were with, where they were or what they were doing. I let Piper go off on the playground solo some times, but I watch her the whole time. I know at their ages they don't need someone to entertain them non-stop on the playground, but if they are that desperate for help and attention to address a stranger then why wouldn't you go play with your kids?
Anyways, that's my take on it...what do you think?