The best blog post topics usually come out of nowhere and occur as you are living your life. They are the experiences you notice. They are the examples other parents show. They happen right in front of you and are so good you just want to race to a computer and start typing.
Today, one of those happened.
I was at the library with our 9-month old and was sitting in the very large children’s play area. It is set up where the parents sit on the edge on these stairs and the middle is where all the play happens.
Normally when I am there, I am on of the few dads there with kids. This is not unusual on a weekday in Halifax.
But today, there was another dad there and he was not helping out the image of what a stay at home dad (SAHD) is. Now, he could be on vacation, or a day off or many other reasons for being there during the day. But for the purpose of this post, I have labeled him a stay at home dad.
He was there with what appeared to be three of his own kids and one other kid who most likely was a friend. They were probably all under the age of 10.
As I am on the lowest step playing with my son, among all the other moms and their kids, this guy was set up in the corner wearing headphones and had his face buried in his phone. My guess is he was playing a game of some kind. His concentration rarely broke the screen, so it was not like he was reading tweets.
The longer I sat there, the more amazed I was at how little this guy really cared what his kids were doing. They were not misbehaving in any way. They were fine.
But they kept trying to get his attention for something and there was no connection.
My boy crawled up to him a few times with no reaction. Then finally the guy looked down, kind of smiled and gave Charlie a toy. Not in a here you go kid, but more of a please leave me alone kid way.
It was amazing to watch. I was almost becoming an unattentive dad just watching him.
I am figuring all the other mothers there were looking at him and thinking, nice work dad. All the while adding to the small portion of society that thinks dad can’t be the home maker or the guy who takes care of the kids.
I was thinking to myself, dude you are not helping our team. You are breathing more life into an already silly stereotype.
Anyways, I am very aware of my phone and my kids. I tend to take a lot of photos and even share them on the spot. My wife has told me that even though she knows I am just doing it for a second, it also makes me look like that dad, the one who is more interested in his phone than his kids.
This matter does not just cover dads of course. I see many moms who are trying to be J.J. Abrams with a camera phone as their kid does something pretty uninteresting.
Are most parents aware of this? Probably. If it is 15 seconds here, 30 seconds there, I don’t see it as an issue.
But when you are totally zoning out with headphones? That seems like someone who does not really want to play with the kids.
It could not be true at all. He may have just played with the kids for two hours and is now having a very rewarded break, but it is all about perception. Especially in a public place like a kid’s play area at the library.
What do you think? Is it okay to totally check out while your kids play in front of you? Are you one of the parents who can’t take their eyes on their little screens?
I would love to get your take on this whole experience I had today.