Yesterday afternoon, in the last few moments of decent weather this state has to offer us,Carter and I played at our neighborhood park.
We crawled through tunnels, ran across bridges, walked through the woods and used our newly discovered sticks to rearrange mulch.
And then he let me sit down for a minute.
As he ran from swing to swing, preoccupying himself with the physics of push and pull and twist and smack-your-face, I had a moment to take in what the other kids were doing.
There was a crew of 4th and 5th grade boys, decked out in their not-imitation Under Armor shirts, most with hair that crept into their eyes until they casually flicked their heads back just so. They were playing some kind of game that involved diving into the woods to find something, chucking that something, and running around.
It was great.
They had flushed cheeks, they were consumed with competition…they were just being all-boy.
For the first minute.
And then one whipped out his cell phone to text. And I noticed Mr. Green-Under-Armor was texting too. I searched the scene for the other boys. Mr. Hair-Below-My-Shoulders was grasping his cell phone as well. And another boy, one I hadn’t noticed before, seemed to be talking to one of the guys who was playing with them on his cell phone.
I don’t get it.
I mean, they could be phones parents had given them “for safety,” but really—
texting when you should be running around?
It bothers me.
It hits too close to home—this gross distraction from what should be important.
I struggle with being present.
With not watching the clock when I sit down to read to my son. With not existing for that next moment when I should be fully alive in my current one. With not being consumed with thoughts of What I Need to Get Done every waking moment.
If I, an old-almost-28-year-old who got her first cell phone in college, struggles this much with being present and undistracted, then how much more will a generation who can’t seem to play a simple game of tag without texting?
I may be old-fashioned and these boys may have truly been having fun with each other, I just wonder how much attention you can give the ones you’re with if you’re in the middle of 3 other silent conversations.
I fear, with the ability to be so connected to others through our phones, whether it’s texting, email or twitter, we lose sight of the beauty of being fully present with each other.
On April afternoons, when the sun is just right, I want my hour at the park to count for a mother playing with her child. She's not catching up on email, sending out a quick text or two, or grabbing a few minutes on the phone with her bestie in California.
Just a mom with her son.
God help me be fully present.