Renee Septimus isn’t the only grandparent out there who thinks that moms and dads should get off their cell phones and enjoy being with their children.
Just last week, my dad was in Israel and said the same thing.
“When I see parents on their cell phones ignoring their children, I say something. “ He said. “I tell them ‘Pay attention to your child for Heaven’ sake.’”
I leveled him with a look – a look culled from hours – ok, days – of lost sleep. A look shaped by the never-ending worry of being knee-deep (well, neck deep) in the ever-loving moment of parenting a preschooler and a toddler. A red-eyed look. A deep-socketed look. An “I haven’t slept for the past, oh, I don’t know, almost three years, and there are days when I forget to brush my teeth and put on deodorant, and my husband and I haven’t spent more than an hour alone together since I was pregnant with our first-born, and could someone please pass me a double shot latte and a bottle of wine, and what the Hell am I going to make for dinner tonight, and Imma cut the next person who tells me how to raise my child” look.
LOOK. If my kid is playing with matches and licking dog poop off of a lead toy while sitting in the middle of a busy intersection, then sure, tell me to get off my cell phone and pay attention to my child. No, really. I may be (finally) having a little adult interaction with my best friend who lives on the other side of the world, but I want to know if my kid’s in danger. Because believe it or not, my priorities are pretty intact.
But otherwise? Give me a break.
After all, Dad, you get to give the kids back to me when you’re done playing at the park or having a very earnest discussion about how the wheels on the bus go round and round. (Lest we forget.) You get to go home and have a quiet dinner, or eat at a restaurant that doesn’t have a kids menu and crayons. You don’t have to sleep with one eye open, waiting for the inevitable wail.
Deep down I know that this too shall pass. But it’s hard to be Zen when you’re only sleeping two or three hours a night.
And surely Dad, you remember the crushing exhaustion of a croupy 2 year old. You must remember the midnight and two am and four am parades to the potty. You know what it’s like to be judged by grandparents who are sure they know better (and probably do know better, but that isn’t the point.)
And if you had had a cell phone back in the day, maybe you would have been on it commiserating with someone who understands.