Hey! Get Off The Phone!
By: Meika Rouda
I was at Starbucks the other day with my one-year-old daughter. We were sitting in a big brown leather chair together sharing some pumpkin bread. Asha was wearing her chic light pink ruffled trench coat. The kind of coat I would love to have but is only made for babies age 0-2T. She looked adorable and was happily eating her bread while kicking her legs in the big chair. There was a woman sitting at a table across from us reading the NY Times with a large cup of coffee in front of her. She looked like she had been sitting there for awhile, immersed in the ritual of coffee drinking and reading the paper. A ritual I no longer have time to partake in now that I have kids. She looked at me and pointed to Asha and said, “That is the cutest coat I have ever seen!” I agreed with her, the trench coat was ridiculously cute. Then she put down her paper and looked me in the eye. “You know, there have been several moms who have sat in that chair with their kids this morning and you are the first one I have seen not on a cell phone.” Her comment reminded me how often I am one of the moms on my phone at the coffee shop or the park, checking my email as if something urgent is happening when more often than not, nothing is happening. It is almost compulsive, the need to check my phone for communication, like there is an expectation that when you get an email or text you need to respond immediately. How did we get this way? And can we learn to leave our cell phones alone and just enjoy a dinner out, a movie, or a piece of pumpkin bread with our daughter without being distracted by the constant stream of communication coming across our phones?
Asha scooted her body off the big leather chair and stood near the woman. She gave her a wave, unprovoked, something I was glad I was watching because I had never seen her wave before. Who knows, if I were checking my email at that moment I would have missed her first wave. Just being able to relax and enjoy watching her interact with the other people in the coffeeshop was a joy. A joy I am too often distracted to experience and appreciate.
As Asha walked around the room, greeting the coffee drinkers and practicing her wave, smiling at strangers and enjoying the stir her trench coat was making, I made a little promise to myself to keep my phone in my bag and my focus on my children. Emails can wait, texting can wait, and if anything is really urgent, they can call me. I want to be available to my children, to witness the little joys that sharing a piece of pumpkin bread at Starbucks can solicit. Seeing her give her first wave, communicating. Something we are so used to doing with our smartphones that we forget to spend the time doing it in person.