Yesterday, the woman sitting in front of my family on the tram had to turn around to see if it was true… she had to witness it for herself… THAT I WAS ACTUALLY SPEAKING TO MY CHILD!
I was indeed talking to my 1,5 year old son, commenting on everything he was observing on the tram journey – people, other trams and buses outside the window, and, most importantly, the fire extinguisher at the front of the tram. My son was pointing excitedly to all the different items, saying the words or sounds he knew for each one. I was making eye contact with my son and commending him for his observations. My husband was sitting behind us.
“Aren’t you amazed at how much these little ones know?” the lady in front of us said. I agreed.
“Yeah, my son notices everything and talks a lot. At home he can point to the dishwasher, the coffee machine, the washing machine and loads of other things,” I told her. “I know kids understand so much more than they can express.”
“I just… I had to turn around to see that you were actually talking to your child because it’s so rare these days,” the woman said. “I constantly see parents busy on their smart phones, and it’s so sad, because children need attention, they need eye contact.”
“I couldn’t agree more”, I said. “When I am out and about with my son, I will only text someone if it’s a person I am arranging to meet up with. Apart from that, I focus on him and the things we see and experience. I guess I don’t have to explain that he does not have his own iPad!” I said, half joking but serious. My husband jumped into the conversation to tell the lady about a book he read called “Digital Dementia”. The book explains how children need to experience their physical environment before learning through a screen.
Although I took the lady’s comments as a compliment on my parenting, my heart is breaking for all those babies and children who see the backside of their parents’ smart phones more than their parents’ eyes. Millions of kids experience this form of rejection on a daily basis. I wonder how this will affect future generations. I find it both sad and alarming that interaction between a parent and a child has become so rare that other passengers turn around to check if it’s actually, truly happening.
How often are you talking to your child,
looking into their eyes,
simply being there with them?