The New Extreme Sport and Other MMBs

THE BIG THREE: 3 Mom Media Bites (MMBs)

As the mother now of two sons, both now 3 years old and 3 months respectively, I have been navigating this new season as a Northern Atlantic fisherman’s boat tries to keep from top-sizing in hurricane strength swells. The writer in me has been posting “tweets” of countless questioning thoughts and resulting conclusions to my mind’s running page but never on paper, or as in the case of this post, in digital form. So in my humble attempt to disperse some of this philosophical and reflective backup, here are a few of my latest ramblings for your entertainment or information:

Road-Tripping with Tots: The New Extreme Sport

About a month ago, I embarked on a road trip with my sons that included stops in three different states. The goal was to make it to a very important event for one in my closest circle and it became an opportunity to visit other friends and family along the way as well. I did consider the plan ahead of time and certainly realized there were many calculations to be made in order for this trip solo with the boys to be successful. An energetic toddler and an unpredictable newborn were quite the duo to consider, mapping the actual driving route was the easiest consideration. In retrospect, I was best able to explain the trip as an “extreme sport”. I had to make clear plans like what time of day to depart, how to ensure that total driving time each day wasn’t more than 4-5 hours and coupling nursing stops with bathroom breaks, et cetera. At the same time I had to continually accept the fact that I needed to allow for unexpected delays, stops (especially with a nursing infant) and changes in plans of activities or driving. For instance, there was about a 2 hour stretch in the middle of nowhere-Georgia land that I just had to keep my cool with a few factors pulling at me including the fact that I missed a turn and was on a country road where there farms and churches but no gas stations. It ended up being a 10 day trip that went relatively smoothly and I was exhausted upon arrival home but felt that my relationship with the boys had actually hit some great milestones.

Weiner-gate and Foley Redux

In recent weeks the cable news and print media has had the gift of a story that keeps giving in the reporting of soon-to-be-resigned U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner’s revealing photos being “tweeted” via Twitter to women other than his wife. Last week I was able to watch some of the coverage and came to the Fox News channel that had Mark Foley in an interview with Sean Hannity. I hadn’t seen my ex-boss on national television in an interview since his political fall from grace in the fall of 2006 and it was a little jarring to my system. Couldn’t believe the sheer irony of it all—here was my ex-boss who had his Congressional career crumpled by his misuse of time as a Florida representative with the AOL instant messenger service and here now is Congressman Anthony Weiner “tweeting” photos of himself actually IN his Congressional office to his countless lady friends while married to a high profile government aid. Sadly, many of us are still surprised that history evidently teaches us nothing as in the case of Mr. Weiner. I thought that what Foley was punished for was seared in the minds of active politicians; a stern warning to stay off of the digital highway whether by personal computer, laptop, cell phone, Ipad or whatever is next when it comes to the personal indiscretions. It seems that the more we advance in this information age, the more impulsive our actions become that truly blurs our decision-making. In the case of these two gentleman and countless others, we’ve forgotten that privacy is not insured when communicating through cyber/digital hardware—we ought to assume that everything could at any time be posted on the screens in Times Square in New York City.

The Beach: Still the Best Village to Raise Children

Living in South Florida affords me the luxury of going to the beach often and I never take it for granted after residing in other states for several years. What I love about the salty air and sticky sand is that there is a general lack of other stimuli. Most people who routinely go to the beach are there to enjoy the raw nature of two major elements of our planet coming together: land and sea. It is also the thrill of that ebbing dance that draws me to bring my children there a few times a week. I hope to teach them about their environment while also giving them the freedom to run, dance, shout and becoming caked with sand and salt ruthlessly. Running into other parents and their children has also been refreshing and disappointing at times but I’m grateful for the experiences regardless. My children have the opportunity to interact with others, they learn to share and when to walk away. The parents get to small talk and swap ideas on raising children without any commitment to follow-up. I have also met some of my current friends at the shoreline (both Pacific and Atlantic) and strengthened existing friendships there that help enrich my life and thereby my children’s lives.

R.V.S.B.

Smart Phones: Dumbing and Numbing Parents and Children Alike

PART ONE

In full disclosure, if you don’t know me personally, I will admit that I have always had a love-hate relationship with technology in its countless forms in both the 20th and 21st century.

In the last two decades of my life alone, I’ve witnessed our dependence and lust grow for the personal computers, internet usage, cell phones and now the latest tech combo plate menu item: smart phones.

As a wife and mother who juggles her little family and extended family’s needs as well as the drive to stay connected to friends and current events, I can’t say that the advent of these multi-tasking devices (my favorite is the blackberry) hasn’t helped me.  But lately, I find myself forcefully putting my blackberry into my purse or even leaving around in the house or car because my heartburn is growing as I witness the gap these devices are contributing between parents and our children.

I can speak to the infant and toddler experience in parenting as my son T.A. is 2 years old and I’m expecting our second. 

PLAYGROUNDS

Why on earth are you engrossed in your phone during your child’s playtime either at an inside or outside playground?  I’m not talking about the occasional “checking the time” or “who’s calling/texting” and such.  I’m talking to the dad I saw the other day who was utterly consumed in his blackberry while his child wrecked havoc on others as well as himself.  I’m recalling the mother whose little girls were trying to get her attention outside while she chatted away on the phone and didn’t even take a break to let them know why she needed to take such an important phone call (I hope it was).  Yes, I sound harsh and I am the first to admit that I’ve had to answer the phone or reach out to someone–but the difference is I make it a point to communicate this to my son  before, as and after I do it.  You see, they still absorb everything we do, as young toddling ones did hundreds of years ago…the only difference now is we have these gizmos that cast this weird silence upon them when we get lost in using them for both good and bad reasons.

Again, I’m not saying you should never have these phones/devices out while with your children in a playground setting.  I’m just trying to suggest that it’s probably not necessary that we do and I’d rather we spend our attention on our children as one day they’ll be grown and won’t ever need as much as they do now–how critical it is that we don’t become that absent parent while physically present.

APPS FOR DISTRACTION

Who hasn’t been frazzled by their child’s behavior at a restaurant, place of religious worship, et cetera?  I have used our digital camera at an eatery before to help squeeze out the final course or conversation with those at the table–as a last resort. 

A couple of weeks ago, though, I read an article about how parents pacify their children during card rides with phone apps varying from games to videos.  I also witnessed a mother at my church who had her toddler holding her smart phone with a video during a children’s history event on our Greek OXI day.  This blows my mind as we are called to help our little infants and toddlers to experience life in all its forms…not always defaulting to the digital/virtual one.  In the car, my son has books, toys, writing pads, stickers and all the like.  I refuse to hand him my phone and now have determined that I don’t even want DVD players in any future cars either. 

Again, it’s not a necessity and we certainly should not help them nurse a dependence on this sort of instantaneous entertainment that will always have to be trumped somehow.  Why miss out on the conversations you can have with your toddler about what we see on our way to the grocery store or mall?   My son will sometimes recalled up to half a dozen times in a week something we saw last week–it is fascinating how their mind makes connections without the constant feed of a video on a phone that would only serve to distract them from their surroundings.  Don’t we want to help our kids have a better grasp on people and things around them on a daily basis?  Is it worth the silence and not being “bothered” by your child when in several years you’ll have a teenager who has no empathy or depth of perception in the real world?

CLOSING OF PART ONE

I want to write further on this subject and I welcome any comments or criticisms as I know my tone can sound pretty convicting.  If I want anything to be remembered from this it’s that I feel it’s more important to put aside these smart devices and play with them on our own time than our child’s time. 

RVSB

Wyoming Life

"God bless it and keep it wild"