Two young women walked into the restaurant just about 11AM on a Saturday. I was there having a late breakfast and pouring over the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal, happily enjoying none of the normal weekday pressures of heading to the office. The women each had a toddler, about the same age, maybe 3 or 4, a boy and a girl, both nicely dressed.
As they got themselves seated and situated, each mom took out computer tablets and quickly gave them to the kids. Just as quickly, the mom’s began peering into their own electronic devices, enthralled in their tiny, private screens. So much for that magical, personal interaction and parent-child bonding, so important to a healthy relationship. These four people might as well have been in separate rooms, walled off from each other courtesy of electronics.
The kids devices were obviously set to play games, which involved loud and annoying to the adult ear game arcade noise clearly inappropriate in a restaurant where people may want reasonable levels of background noise in order to perhaps carry on a conversation, not to be drowned out by kiddie arcade nonsense. Then the kids began to act out, get loud, complaint, whine and cry as the mommies, now clearly annoyed that their own gadget time was being interrupted, scrambled to find other distractions for their kids.
As a seasoned, single father of two and now grandfather of one, let me give these women some fatherly advise. Turn off your phones, put the tablets away and pay attention to your kids. It really is just that simple ladies.
There is plenty of time to turn your kids into the self-absorbed, leave-me-the-hell-along, ear-bud wearing, screen zombies they are sure to become, but before that happens, and they happily fall right into your glorious footsteps, try paying a little bit of attention to them, one-on-one and quit using the tablet as a pacifier and substitute for your time and attention. Check your phone once the kids are sleeping. What a concept!
Restaurant patrons everywhere thank you.