Hang up the phone.
I was walking through the park yesterday evening. It was a gorgeous night – that perfect temperature, no humidity, flowers abloom, and the bustle of the city quieted into universal appreciation of the weather.
And then I caught sight of a family out for a stroll. Baby girl, having clocked about 3 years on the planet, was sitting pretty in a stroller, smiling and happy. Mom was at the wheel, and dad was ambling along beside her. Precious scene, right?
Except mom and dad were both on their cell phones, maintaining different conversations, completely absorbed in a not-in-the-park world.
There’s a certain idiocy to walking beside someone and talking on a telephone. There’s something about skewed concentration and snippets of overheard conversation that are distracting for all involved. But then there’s the blatant in-intimacy of the thing. You’re putting up a wall of mobile technology, subliminally projecting the thought, “This is more important than sharing a moment with you. We can talk later. We have all night. This has to be done now.” What a mood-ruiner. What an affront to the gorgeous night.
But what really gets me is that both mom AND dad were traveling along in their isolated me-bubbles, completely ignoring their child. There is only so long that you have to spend with a child, not to mention, only so often that she will be happy, healthy, and not fussing. She’s got 3 years to her name, and so she’s still learning. She’s learning about the world, about the things in it. She’s learning about relationships by watching how you interact with each other. She’s learning about making priorities in life.
And so, if this is a commonplace event for Perfect Little Family, she’s screwed.
Intimacy, she sees, is a thing that can be put on hold. Making a sacrifice to be present for others is decidedly secondary to handling one’s own affairs. She won’t learn from mom that the blue flower is a hydrangea and the yellow is a daisy, but she may learn it from the Internet one day. She won’t learn from her parents the little daisy game, “she loves me; she loves me not,” but she may learn it from a film. She won’t learn the difference between a chipmunk and a squirrel from dad, but she may learn it from her science textbook. She won’t learn to look up, to look around, to ask questions, to be curious, to live life openly… because her parents are too busy talking on their cell phones.
A plea to those who are blessed to share life with people you love: show them you love them. And if they’re tiny little people: teach them how best to love. Hang up the phone.