Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday Musings - Please Hang Up

Walking through a grocery store recently, my eyes landed on an adorable baby...gurgling and cooing and laughing up at its mother.  I immediately remembered all the trips to the grocery store that I took with my babies..."discussing" our grocery list, the quality of the produce, and making "conversation" during the entire trip.  It was a wonderful time with each of them.  The mother, unfortunately, never once even made eye contact with the baby, let alone responded to her baby.  Why?  She was on her blue tooth and carrying on an animated conversation with someone on the other end.  She was laughing and gesturing and her baby was trying to participate, but to no avail.  The mother was ignoring the baby in favor of her phone conversation.  It was so sad.  How long before the baby stops trying and just sits like a lump in a car seat?

This scene was not unique.  I see it all the time.  I see it when mothers are priding themselves on taking daily walks with their babies only to be on the phone during the entire outing and, again, not interacting with their baby at all.  Um, I don't think you really get kudos for isn't really "quality time".  How are these babies going to be socialized properly?  How are they going to understand the give and take of communication?  The lack parental response to the baby's attempts to communicate with them has got to have a negative effect on these children.  This is when synapses and neurons are making those vital connections in the brain.  It is when attachment is formed and, yet, the baby is being ignored.   It used to be that mothers and babies babbled to each other all day long.  Cooking, cleaning, shopping, visiting other adults and children...verbal communication was a constant give and take, even though the baby wasn't very verbal.   In that way, children learn the give and take of communication, as well as the nuances of unspoken communication.  All this is lost when mothers don't recognize/notice and fail to respond to these emerging communicators.  And we're sacrificing this so we can be on the phone longer?  Seriously? 

Washington has a hands-free law, too, which means people are driving around with blue tooth devices in their ears all the time.  In theory, this is a great thing, right?  Their hands are on the wheels after all.  Unfortunately, their attention is still not on the road.  I've been cut off by people talking on their blue-tooth devices more times than I can even guess.  If you're focused on a phone conversation, you're not focused on the road.  It is just that simple.  Oh, and to the person in the blue sedan who turned into my lane in the parking lot without ever even looking my direction because your phone conversation was oh-so-important:  You're welcome.  I saw you walking to your car when I was walking to my car with my kids.  I heard you talking on the phone as you walked to the car, and noticed that you continued your conversation as you blithely pulled into the traffic lane without turning your head. I told my kids to keep an eye on you because you weren't paying attention to driving and I was correct.  It was fortunate for you that I was paying attention and realized that you weren't, because, in a contest between my big Suburban and your little sedan, there is no doubt who would have won.

Oh, and let's not forget the people who are chatting away on their cell phones as they go through check out lines, go through drive through, and are just walking through the aisles of a store.  Why don't you notice that it is absolutely the height of rudeness to continue speaking on the telephone when someone is serving you?  Do people not realize that the person ringing up their groceries, taking their order, or processing their prescriptions or dry-cleaning are people and, therefore, deserving the courtesy of attention for the 2 minutes they will serve them?

So, this is my question:  What will it take to get all of you to just please hang up?  Seriously.  You're on the phone all the time.  The people in your ear are far more important to you that the people standing (or sitting) in front of you.  The conversation you're having is far more important that the road and the cars you're sharing it with.  What can be so important?  Please hang up the phone.  Interact with the people you're actually with.  Your children will thank you.  The other drivers on the road will thank you.  The people who serve you daily will thank you.  Just think of all that positive energy that will be headed your way.


Anonymous said...

Oh - I have so much to say about this. I wasn't two sentences into your post and was nodding my head like a bobble. I couldn't possibly agree with you more - on every.single.point.

The other day we were at the park and a mom sat in one of the swings, texting as her little daughter played alone - my husband sarcastically said, "probably about the wonderful day at the park". So often we see people missing out on the moments that make up a rich and fulfilling life because they are on the phone.

Last June, while in Minnesota a large group of our friends and family went out to eat. My husband, myself, and my MIL were the only people (of a group of 12 adults) that were not preoccupied by the phones. I looked around the table and felt sad. Here is a group of people that love each other, and have interesting things to discuss and yet - there was no communication. So very sad...glad we flew/drove 1500 miles to be there. These are just two of many many examples - I could go on and on and on.

While I agree, drivers are distracted by more than just their phones, I can't tell you how many times I've narrowly missed being in an accident because I was the one who wasn't on the phone.

It's so sad that we can't seem to spend anytime with ourselves (never mind our children!) anymore. My husband and I bought Virgin Mobile pay as you go phones in 2005. We are required to put $20 on them every three months. Both of our phones have well over a $200.00 balance on them, and neither of us has ever sent a text message...yet we manage to live full, complete lives.

Oh my, now that I've hijacked your blog (and to think, I've deleted much in attempt not to!) I'll just add this - I love the time my daughter and I spend in the grocery store and have since she was just a wee babe - I can't imagine how much I would have missed if I hadn't been paying attention and I absolutely agree that the people who provide service to us throughout the day deserve our undivided attention.

Great post Erin!

Clark said...

I can top your mom story! We were on a bus yesterday headed to out process the CIF. A hydraulic line sprung a leak, shooting fluid over the hot engine. Soon, the bus began trailing a long cloud of smoke and the rear of the bus began filling with smoke as well. One of the soldiers at the front of the bus was busy on a phone call and holding up the line of people trying to get off. She could not hang up to grab her stuff apparently. It took the loud shout of an officer at the back of the bus to get her butt moving. It was really surreal. The bus is filling with smoke and you can't hang up. Priorities?

DarcyLee said...

You're getting a hearty "Amen!" from me, Erin. I have nothing to add here. I think you've said it perfectly.

Anonymous said...

I actually had a guy walk into me at a restaurant the other day. Seriously yakking away and he walked right into me. That same day I was nearly ran down by a woman in a parking lot and later in that same parking lot, by a cop. Yup, on his cell phone too. Some people claim he was on official business. Well, if I hadn't been looking and aware, his official business that day would have been explaining why his govt car was park into my front end. I swear it just gets worse and worse and it's not teenagers doing it.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and forgot to add, I miss that time. As a person who talks to herself ALOT, I missed having an excuse to do so. Maybe I need to get one of those blue tooth things. LOL