I was driving home with the kids yesterday afternoon and saw a mom walking across the street with her two little kids, one of which is mentally handicapped, the other is 4 or 5. She was walking across the road with her two kids, not holding their hands, not looking up, because she was texting as she was walking them home. Not once did she look up to see if the light had changed, not once did she look up to make sure that the cars were stopping. The two kids just ran along beside her. One of them could have easily wandered off, and she would have been none the wiser. Do I think texting makes her a bad mother? Nope, she would not be a great mother even without a handheld device distracting her attention from her kids. I say this because I have seen her parenting in action.
I admit I am only a recent initiate of texting. I find that it is a great way to keep in contact with my husband throughout the day (I admit it, I send him little love texts... you think it's an accident I've been married for 19 years?), and I wonder what took me so long to jump on board. It allows me to make quick comments to my friends, when I have a free minute (notice I said "a free minute"). It is great tool, but that is what it is... a tool. At what point did we as a society decide that we no longer needed to commit to face to face conversations. At what point did people deem it socially acceptable to have a face to face conversation, but to constantly be looking at their text messages from others. I know I'm an old fart, but I still believe in social graces.
The woman I described above is not the only one I have seen doing stupid things with her phone. I have seen people driving their cars and texting, while they were also drinking a coffee. I have sat disgusted in Grace's specialist's waiting room, watching parent completely ignore their children in favour of their handheld device. Grace sees an pediatric orthopedic surgeon. The kids in the waiting room are as young as months, as old as their teens. These kids have casts, are in wheel chairs, most of them are scared about what will happen next. The little ones sit strapped into their strollers, with no toys, no entertainment, while mom or dad gives their full attention to the person on the other end of their phone. If the child makes a peep, the parent may juggle the stroller, without ever looking away from their phone, or giving that poor little child any attention. Don't get me wrong, not all of the parents in the waiting room are ignoring their children. Some of them like myself are using this as a way to connect with their child. Some of them like myself have brought bags with activities and snacks. Unfortunately it seems like it is an even split right down the middle, that is worrisome to me.
I don't want to sit here on my high horse pretending that I am a perfect parent who has all of the answers, I am not, and I don't. I make loads of mistakes (trust me I lay awake at night berating myself for my shortcomings). I do not always give my kids the full attention that they want or deserve, I too am human. I am a parent who is trying to do my best. I had all of children by choice, I choose motherhood. None of them asked to be born. I am responsible for their well being until they become adults, and possibly beyond that. It bothers me when other people forget that they made that same choice. It bothers me to see people choosing their toys over their children. It bothers me to see people doing stupid things (i.e. texting and driving) that can endanger my children. It bothers me that my children will inherit a world where no one looks anyone in the eye. People no longer feel it necessary to devote their whole attention to the person that they are speaking to, in the same room. Perhaps the world is changing, but it will be dragging me and my old fashioned polite ways behind it!