I’m very distressed by an example of bad parenting I witnessed and I really don’t know why.
I’ve taken to eating lunch in the park near my office. It’s not much of a park — some ball fields, a few tennis courts, and a playscape exciting only to fairly young children — but it’s certainly better than eating at my desk. I read, juggle, and sometimes play chess. But mostly I watch people.
Yesterday there was a woman at the park with twin boys who, I’d guess, were between eighteen months and two years old. They were there for all of my lunch hour. The boys were having a great time, running, jumping, yelling in the echo chamber formed by the covered slide, and inventing games the way only twins can. Mom was alert and attentive, smiling continually at their antics, comforting one boy after a little fall.
But she had a cell phone to her ear. The entire time.
The whole check-email-on-vacation disaster has been building for a while. Cell phones are everywhere. Being always connected is one of the huge trends for the last ten years. I have resisted it — I even held out against an answering machine for years after everyone else had one — I’m sure, though, that I will eventually succumb. I’ve never seen someone who seemed to be doing everything right with her kids end up doing somthing so wrong. And I can’t even articulate just what I think her transgression is: if you’ve gotta ask, you’ll never know. I’ll I can tell you is that a was gently horrified.
Do you think these kids will ever remember having their mother’s undivided attention?