I’ve decided not to bring my cell phone with me when I take baby girl out for our evening walk.
Out of habit, even if I am not on the phone, I still check the shit out of it. It drives me crazy yet, I can’t quit. Until today.
I purposely left my phone home today and continued to keep it out of site until Kanga was in bed. It was one of the best evenings we’ve had in a long time. I noticed every single movement she made, we sang in Italian about animals, watched and touched plants and birds, and laughed our heads off—-without interruption. Even when it’s a handful of seconds steered towards my phone rather than my daughter, it breaks the connection between my daughter and I. I have to admit I take it for granted. The days that I am exhausted and just want to tune out, I give my daughter a little less attention and my phone more. The funny thing about that is when I break that connection, she usually lets me know. Whether she gets upset, crawls away and dives into our dog’s water bowl, whatever it is, she will do something to gain my attention back. She won’t keep laughing, she won’t keep reading the book, she will notice that I have become uninterested. That is what I am telling my daughter when I look at my phone instead of paying attention to her. I have become disinterested.
It is not fair.
It’s not fair for my daughter who is learning about the world in which my interactions help her developing mind and senses. It’s not fair for myself as time passes I lose moments, days, where she will never be in that moment again. I miss steps, literally steps, I miss movements, facial expressions, I miss her growth, even in seconds. It’s not fair for society. I know that sounds far fetched, but hear me out.
I am raising a child. In this world, the importance of human connection is what saves us. It literally can save us, a smile to someone passing who is depressed or having a bad day. It can change someones world when you genuinely engage in conversation with someone rather than some superficial, “Hey, how are you?”. Why do you ask, if you’re not interested? I have the responsibility to raise a child who will care about others in this world. Who will make a positive impact on at least a single person’s life through kindness and attentiveness. It is the importance of human connection that I want to teach my daughter. It is what will make her a healthy, smart, empathetic woman.
Who am I to do that if I’m checking my phone instead of engaging with her and her activities. Who am I to do that if instead of looking into her eyes and laughing with her, I glance at social media, my text messages, or just the damn time. I don’t mean to do it, it’s out of habit.
It’s a terrible habit that I am going to break. Because this evening, I noticed my daughter slither from her standing position on the couch to a seated position on the ground with no hesitation, no hiccup, no help. She was like a snake. I would’ve missed that one smooth motion if I had been looking at my phone.
She took a couple small steps with her left foot, without assistance. I would have missed that. I would have missed singing and laughing and seeing a hummingbird by the Camellia bush outside our apartment. I would have missed her feeding herself tuna and asparagus and then sharing her food with our dog.
Walking back to our door from putting our feet in the pool and watching the other kids play, my heart soared. It was as though I watched it flutter with the birds. Pure joy flooded from my heart this evening.
I could have missed that.
Put down those phones,