I was “blessed” with the opportunity to sit at a park waiting for family members, friends and children to attend a Memorial Day picnic. I was tasked with claiming an area of a shelter, setting up grills and waiting for three hours prior to the official party start time. (You know black people will not arrive on time so I was more than likely 4 hours early).
Nonetheless, the park was empty. When I say empty, I mean, 3 cars in the parking lot and my car is one of them. The park is easily over 10 acres with a two mile walking/running track on the perimeter, 4 soccer fields, 4 tennis courts, 2 basketball courts, 2 baseball fields, 2 playgrounds, a lake (and a partridge in a pear tree). In other words, the park is a pretty decent size.
Waiting for the extended family to arrive, I observed a father with his twin toddler boys. They were running, jumping, tumbling, exploring, you know, normal things twin toddler boys at a park with open fields and playgrounds do–physical benefits for children. On two separate occasions during the 30 minute visit, the boys yelled out to their dad, “Look at me, Daddy! Look at me, Daddy! Look at me, Daddy!” Unfortunately, the boys yelled because their father was walking around, or sitting on one of the benches facing the playground, on his phone. The tasks do not seem pressing, but they are distracting enough to take his mind, attention and focus away from his boys.
Are these actions that pressing? Fidgeting with your phone instead of playing with your kids ain’t good.
Can we as fathers, as soccer dads, not put down our gadgets for 30 minutes to be engaged with our children? I get it. We have a lot of things pulling at us. From work, to personal obligations to “Honey-do” lists, the tasks we need to complete are endless. Plus, we need to check-in, tweet, share, comment and address any of the other daily multitude of social media tasks our smartphones notify us we must address “immediately.”
But again, 30 minutes for our children? Is that too hard to ask? Turn off the phone or only permit certain people to contact you. Certain times with our children should be sacred and untouched.
Let’s do better, Dads!
UPDATE: The father never stopped being a tentative to his phone. He wondered off multiple times on his phone and his boys continued to play by themselves.