I was at a dance class with my young daughter. She is about to be 4 years old, and in about a month she will debut in her dancing career as a beam of sunshine. Cassie, the teacher, needed audio of each child saying their name for something she was putting together and each one of them needed to say ‘Hi, my name is…’ and finish with their name. So Cassie brought them all in to the office, which left me and the rest of the parents sitting by the wall as we do, waiting for what was barely 5 minutes.
And within 30 seconds, everyone had a phone in their hands, checking email or snapchat or Facebook or whatever it was. There was a mother close to me with a daughter in the class as well as a 1 year old son, and he and I caught each other’s gaze because there was no one else to make eye contact with. I smiled at him, and waved, it was a sweet moment but also sort of a sad one because he seemed perhaps a bit lonely right then.
A few minutes later, all the children filed back out of the office and the room livened up again.
Now, right here, I want to be clear that I am not trying to shame or blame anyone. I too am a parent, and even just a few minutes of respite is a non-trivial thing. The truth of it is that messages do need to be checked, and notes need to be taken, and text messages don’t write themselves. We can’t just stop doing it. The fucking light is blinking.
But know that when we all do that, all the time, there will certainly be more cases where a tiny little person is looking out at the world, trying to connect and finding nothing.
I think we can do better.