Note to Parents and Nannies: Turn Off Your Phone! – Kveller
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Note to Parents and Nannies: Turn Off Your Phone!


The other day, I took my 20-month-old granddaughter to what used to be called a “Mommy and Me” class in the local community center. The behavior was just awful–and I am not talking about the kids’.

One nanny came into the room, took off her charge’s jacket near the door and sat down to a long conversation on her cell phone. The kid walked around the long expanse of the gym, alone, aimlessly, rather than making it to the circle of kids and caregivers forming on the floor at the far end of the room.

Later, while we were all singing, a mom actually answered her phone and spoke for several minutes! While sitting in the circle with the rest of us! I almost plotzed!

I see more caregivers (moms and nannies) talking on the phone while pushing a stroller than not. I think it should be like “no texting while driving.” “No cell phones while caring for a small child!”

What is with this?

I bet you no grandmother would do that! Generally, we are not so attached to our cell phones and, from experience, we know that most things can wait. We also cherish every moment we have with our grandchildren. Take note, parents: most things can wait.

It’s hard enough to cross a street in Manhattan without the distraction of talking while walking. And what does it say to a child when their caregiver is talking on the phone? After a while, that kid gets a very strong message of–you’re not as important as my phone calls.

Not to mention the absolute gall and rudeness of it all! Kids learn that, too, even if you teach them to say “please” and “thank you.”

When I was a young mom there were no cell phones.  And I took it to heart when my grandmother told me, “You control the phone. It doesn’t control you.” To this day I am the only one I know who can let a phone ring and not answer, not even check caller ID.

I don’t want to be available to everyone all the time!

Cell phone use is, in my opinion, not a giant leap forward for mankind. We are all assaulted by loud, boisterous one-sided conversations on the bus, subway and streets. It’s just horrible and more importantly, it distracts people from what they are, or should, be doing. No one can concentrate fully on both talking on the phone and watching a young child.

Believe me, time is short. Your kids are going to grow up before you know it and soon enough they will annoy you with their own loud, boisterous phone conversations. In the mean time, turn off the phone. Concentrate on that delightful little gift you were blessed with. When you are with your kid, be there completely. And please, make sure they don’t learn to cross streets or–God forbid!--drive while on the phone. Your kid is learning from everything they observe you doing.

Forget the phone and join in while we all sing “If You’re Happy and You Know It.” You will be, and your kid will be, too.

And so will the rest of us.

Want more on grandparents? Here are some suggestions of what to call them, how they teach you to knit, and the story of how Mayim Bialik’s mother-in-law converted from Mormon to Jew.

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