Are you driving? Put your device down, nothing can be that important – pay some attention to the traffic around you. If you’re on a long, empty boring road – something even more mind killing than the I-5, then play a spot-the-cows or count-the-horses or I’m-betting-the-next-grove-of-trees-will-be-in-the-next-X-miles game with yourself.
Are you turning a corner? Damn it, I said put your device down and use both hands on the wheel so you stop with the near-hits of those of us on your destination side and we can get over the twitching that overcomes us when you (who are, most likely, driving a big ol’ SUV or truck) come careening around that corner.
Are you at breakfast, lunch or dinner with an older, boring relative who is, most likely, treating? Then, seriously, feign some interest long enough to complete the meal – you are not a doctor on call or you’d be doing the treating. Turn the device off, whatever is happening there can wait.
Finally, do you have a child under the age of five; and is that child trying to engage you in conversation right now, babbling away a mile a minute about probably nothing real? Then for the love of god and the rest of mankind, put your device down.
If your answer to the first part of that last question is yes, then most assuredly the second part is yes. That’s what they do, these young children. They are totally egocentric and believe in their deepest beliefs that you and everyone else on the planet should be paying attention to them every waking moment. Guess what? They are almost absolutely correct. You should. Not everyone else on the planet, but certainly you. Were you thinking that the rest of us would watch your child while you play with your mobile device?
You are probably looking up at said child long enough to say an absent-minded “uh-huh” before you go back to said device and whatever is currently grabbing your attention. Perhaps it is a text from a friend with a picture of their young child, perhaps it is a game: “Friends With Words,” “Pictures Without Words,” “My Garden Has More Fake Veggies Than Yours.” Really, all of those things can wait for naptime.
Here’s a clue for you – do the majority of those thousands of pictures taken by your magic mobile device of your adorable child have the exact same pose with many different backgrounds? Then you need to put your device down. Put your device down and actually engage in conversation with this child. Don’t wait until a behavior has gotten so attention grabbing that you have to stop long enough to intervene. You know by the time that happens you’re just feeling guilty so you don’t really intervene anyway. Pay attention while nothing much is going on. Maybe something will go on that is unexpectedly pleasant. Don’t worry about the picture, your hundreds of FaceFaceFriends know the pose and they won’t miss one more background. Less is more my friends. Save those candid shots to put on a disc and mail to the relatives and friends on the other side of the country. Just give us, your thousands of FB Friends, a periodic entry that reflects a milestone.
After the age of 5 you will not get much more from your child except for the occasional: “I’m hungry,” “Are we there yet?” or “I’m bored.” Answer the hunger with a healthy snack, if the child doesn’t eat it then s/he’s not really hungry. Respond, “We are never really there yet, we are always on our way.” And the bored child can either be introduced to a board game or an overdue chore. Most of the time the over 5 kid would rather be with “the friends” than with you so I implore you to save your device addiction until the proverbial coop has been flown. This advice is not so much to improve your relationship with the child – that’s a total crapshoot no matter what. It is advice for you because I don’t want you to miss any of the moments that seem excruciating to you now but will be gone so quickly you’ll be sorry.
And, to be honest, I am also motivated by the fact that I looked and listened without interruption to three, count them – 3, children, 3 different times as each learned, count to 100. I did that while appearing fraught with wonder that this magical child could be so clever as to have learned to count that far (and inside my head I prayed that this wasn’t going to happen at a thousand). Do any of them remember that? I doubt. But I do and, without a picture, I can still see each little proud face as each of them ran in sometime during the first few weeks of kindergarten and exclaimed, “Mommy, mommy – today we learned to count to 100! Do you want to hear me?”
So, unless you are unencumbered with the company of real people and are in a long distance relationship wherein this device is your only romantic encounter AND you send me copies of adorable Duck Bombs, then put your device down and live a little.