So I have a confession. A confession many parents today probably share. I am plugged into technology entirely too much and in doing so I inadvertently ignore my child. This is sad to me. EXTREMELY sad. I don’t know what caused me to finally be “aware” of the situation but it has now come to my attention. I am guilty of it. My husband is guilty of it. “I am GUILTY You’re honor! Lock up my phone/iPad/tv/computer and throw away the key!”
With this revelation I decided to go online (no worries, during Xanders nap!) and check to see if others have also seen this trend. Of course they had and this is going to be old hat for most. Here is one of the first articles that popped up: On the Perils of Parenting. It broke my heart to read that a child told their mother “I feel like you don’t even care about me. You only care about the phone.” My heart just skipped a bit once more reading that. Would Xander say or feel such things when he could express such feelings later down the road? Does he, even in his 17 month old mind already feel a since of abandonment if he looks up seeking approval from me, only to find my nose stuck in my phone? I know children as young as 2-3 months who watch their mothers/fathers face for cues can already sense something amiss when something changes in the adults face, so is it too far fetched to think Xander already feels slighted? I don’t think it is too far fetched. I already have seen him cling to my legs, or his dads legs with a whine trying to grab our attention as our mouths are slack jawed watching tv or engrossed on a phones screen completely obliviously to our child at our feet. He is TRYING to get our attention and our love but we at that moment are so plugged into something inanimate that we cannot see him grasping for us. We are NOT plugged into our parenting.
Another great article: Distracted Parenting. Things can happen to us in a second if that slow! A car crash, a wrong step turned into a fall, a fire on the stove. And these things usually occur when we ARE trying to pay attention. Things can happen so suddenly with children. They move so suddenly, change directions, stumble, fall, climb, fall some more. Their attentions are of a curious nature so they might be playing contentedly for some time only to have their attention taken elsewhere and POOF they are not where you thought they were. They are not usually aware of depth or personal space. How many times has a child ran out in front of another child swinging only to get blindsided? How many drownings have happened because of toilets, buckets of water, etc. — and the mom/dad just left for a second to do XYZ. Adding a phone, kindle, iPad, etc. as a distraction isn’t going to help the already distraction filled world. I don’t want my child to be a victim to something that I could have at least prevented. Somethings are completely out of control. Even leaving a room for a split second to do something in a another room is truly out of your control — like I said, children move FAST. But to add more distractions is not helping. Not helping at all.
“Mama put the phone away!” — a quote from Smartphone Danger: Distracted Parent once more shows how important it is to be plugged into our children and families and not our gadgets. A three year old told this to their mother. THREE. I bet you anything Xander would say that too to me. Sometimes he wants my phone too. ALL children want what they can’t have, right? I sometimes wonder how much is that wanting the phone vs. wanting to hide the phone from me so I won’t actually get on it. Because he has done this.
I am so very guilty of all this. Not being plugged into my childs life, but instead I am plugged into the world that doesn’t give a rats ass about me. My KID cares… at least right now. As a young teen he won’t want anything to do with me and right now he wants EVERYTHING to do with me yet I am not 100% there. Xander wants everything to do with his dad, but he too, is not 100% there. We are guilty. I think we all are. I do not want my child growing up to think he is not #1 next to a gadget/inanimate object. How can we even dare to allow that?
Today was my first “plugged in” day. Our schedule was: breakfast together (where he kissed me for the first time!), I turned on music and busted out all his musical instruments and we had “music” class with dancing too. After that he brought me a book to read to him. From there I chased him around the loop that is our downstairs. We DID watch an episode of Super Why on netflix (we got rid of our cable before he was born). But instead of letting him sit by himself I had him in my lap and I interacted with the characters and pointed to the letters and words on the screen so Xander could get more out of it. He would smile and giggle too as I did so. After an episode I busted out some flash cards I purchased at the dollar tree and we did some vocabulary (he is only 17 months, so no words yet… but I want him to learn and recognize the sounds and sights of words!). By then it was time for lunch. After lunch I let him play outside in our back yard where he promptly found the swimming pool upside down. He got a stick and immediately started drumming on it. I pretended to make drumming noises which CRACKED HIM UP. His head was thrown back so far I thought he’d lose his balance and fall! It was extremely cold however and nearly nap time so I took him inside (he screamed bloody murder… he LOVES being outside). I tried to warm him up and did more vocabulary, but this time using my kindle and an app (hey! Great use of technology! Not to mention the app I have has sounds of the animals and transportation items, and I am NOT good at imitating sounds… he loves it!). He began doing his little yawning and eye rubbing so I put it away, cradled him to me and took him upstairs where he promptly fell asleep.
ALL that above could NOT have happened if I was not plugged into XANDER. The laughter, the kiss, the dancing would have not happened if I decided to just throw on some Sesame Street, sit on my butt, and get online to check Facebook for the 100th time that day. I know there are DAYS, or TIMES where turning on TV etc. is the only thing you can do (aka, being sick with pneumonia like I have been not too long ago made me do this very thing!)… but to do this every day, all the time? Not cool. If I hadn’t wanted to be a parent I would have gotten a dog. I want to be a parent though. I want to share so much with Xander. I love seeing the world in his eyes. He loves to point at new things, eyes wide in wonder with a big “whooaaa”. It is such a pure amazement that it can be overwhelming as an adult to witness. Like wow, when did I lose that insight in life?
So here it is, a pledge to be plugged into my sons life and not in an animate object that cannot show me love. I know I will need reminding, scolding, etc. This is a HABIT that I need to break. Xander is far more important to me though and I don’t want to miss any opportunities with him!