Here's what happened.
I was watching Romy one afternoon, all by myself, and this was back when she was around 2 years old. (Just to preface a bit here, she was very verbal early on. She was speaking, at times, in full sentences by then. I'm not being all brag-Dad, I just have to say so, or this story ain't gonna seem credible.) We were playing in our family room on the floor, like with her Polly Pockets or whatever. Like many families' family rooms, there is a tv (it was off), couches, plenty of toys, clutter, etc. And in this particular family room there is also a laptop computer that floats around for general use.
So, yes, Polly Pockets. Well then... there was this moment where we're playing Pollys and I maybe, maybe, lost interest a second (it happens, ok?) and I happened to look over and see the laptop and I think all sly, "I'll just go over there and check my email and she won't even know I'm gone." (But probably I was doing something much worse like checking my Facebook page.)
So, I crept over to the laptop. Started pecking away at the keys, logging in someplace. She's still playing. I got my face in the screen. When I hear,
"Daddy, stop checking email and come play."
Ugh. That kinda broke my heart. And, dang, I did not even know she knew the word email. How awful. It was the first time, and it won't be the last time, that I got checked for slacking on the job.
So, after I shook that first showing of slack-Dad guilt, then came the epiphany. What had just happened did not just happen to me. I mean, it's not happening to only me. This is a thing. This is a 21st century across-the-board thing that is a wedge between parent and child. This is universal.
This pic is hard evidence of what I'm talking about. Circa the same time period, actually. A nice family moment, right? And the dude in the upper right corner wasting away with his nose in the computer? Yeah, that's me. (p.s. the laptop the girl's got her hands on is one she spilled coffee on. Call it a sign?)
In the home, the laptop is one thing. But now, with the whole smart-phone-web-enabled-plugged-in-can't-escape-techo-temptation, we can take it with us. And we are constantly wandering from connecting with our kids. From being completely present parents for our kids. Right?
It's so easy to be plugged in, anywhere and everywhere we go these days. It's so easy to be connected that we are losing our connection with the people standing right beside us. I started thinking about how many times I'd seen kids whose parents were on the iphone or crackberry at parks, kids' ball games, shopping malls, restaurants.
And on the other side of the coin, kids do have their stuff too. The portable vid games, computers, tv's... even those "take it with you" flip down ones you see in the SUV's. Some little ones even have phones of their own.
Either way, that wedge is omnipresent. I mean it's omnipresent if we let it be omnipresent.
Now. Do not get me wrong. I am not here to wag my finger. Not with this blog post and not with this book. As I plainly said, I am as guilty as the next Dad, Mom, Grandma, Grandpa, etc. who is or has put the wedge in. Staying plugged in is not a crime nor would I be the guy who's copping you if it were. But a line must be drawn. If it must be a line of guilt, or shame, so be it. I've got my line of shame and I hope you've got one too.
Keeping that line intact, that is what this book is about. That is, hello! hello! (available October 23 in stores everywhere!)
hello! hello! jacket wraparound
I really feel like this story needs to be told now. And it really needs to be told as a picture book. (Is there any better place to do it?) And it really needs to be told as a printed picture book. But that's a whole other rant...
So all together now.
Stop checking email and come play.