How to ignore your child(ren) well

This has been a very enjoyable summer. As I emerge from the fog of no longer having an infant, I’ve gotten back into blogging, baking, and reading great books from our library (yay for the 100 book check out limit!).

I have this intuition that it is perfectly fine to ignore my peacefully playing children while I read a book. I don’t get to do this too often but every few days, while they play with each other or their own books, blocks, toys, I just ignore them. Sure, I’m only a few feet from them so I look up from my book if someone is crying or it seems like something has gone wrong but for the most part I just read. And imagine the tableau (my children frolicking around me as I read about Poor Economics) — doesn’t it seem serene and ideal somehow?

But now swap out that book for a phone and the image changes. I usually ignore my phone if I am on kid-duty and I feel an obligation to focus on my kids. Somehow, when I envision my kids playing and me on a phone/tablet/laptop, somehow I don’t feel at peace any more. Even if I am reading, something has changed.

Do you feel the same?

brothers! (note the slightly pained expression on Nathan's face)

brothers! (note the slightly pained expression on Nathan’s face)

I know there are probably a few factors that make me think the book-ignoring is better than smartphone-ignoring. Here are some obvious ones: First, my kids will probably express less interest in my book than my phone. They believe they can use my phone in the same sophisticated (ha!) manner in which I can. Second, I want to model reading books for them more than I want to model using smartphones.

But it feels like there is more to it than that. Somehow it feels like I’m more present with them if there is just paper separating me from them. My friend offered a compelling thought experiment. Imagine a couple reading next to each other on a couch versus on their individual smartphones… doesn’t it somehow feel like the reading couple is “closer” somehow?

If anyone can offer any possible explanations, I’m very interested! Unfortunately I probably won’t be checking out your comments while I’m with my kids… I’ll be reading physical books instead!

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One thought on “How to ignore your child(ren) well

  1. Maggie says:

    With books, you’re investing in a singular experience. I think that’s part of it.

    And also the fact that we often use our phones to check in on (aka stalk) people, which means ignoring the humans in the room in exchange for humans not in the room.

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