Put the phone down.
I know, I know — it's hard. Really hard. We live in a society increasingly more hyper-connected on a macro scale but also maddeningly disconnected on the most basic level. Sure, I'm into social media, but there is a time and place for everything.
And that time is not with your kids.
I can't tell you how many times I have been at the children's area in the mall or at a playground and seen a parent furiously tapping their phone like Whack-A-Mole. The other day I watched a mom pushing her child in a swing. The young boy was giggling and laughing. But she was so fixated on her cellphone, missing a moment that she can never get back.
And that's the point, isn't it? Each glance, each grin, each expressive facial movement is gone as quickly as it arrives. And we're missing way too many of those trying to reach the next level of Candy Crush.
I have never heard a parent of an older child reminisce and tell me time with their kid went by too slow. Have you? It goes by way too fast as we try to savor each moment, let alone when we're dividing our attention between our kids and making Bitstrips. I try to learn as much as I can from parents before me and if there is one common thread among them all, it's, "I wish he/she was a child again."
Are there going to be moments when you have to check an urgent text message? Absolutely. Am I guilty of thumbing though Facebook from time to time when I'm with my son Justice? Sure. But when I catch myself I put the phone down.
As a stay-at-home dad, there are times when I have to do some work from the house during the day. But as a rule, I try to steer him toward a solo project while I take 15 minutes or so to use my laptop in another room.
I want Justice to know he has my undivided attention when we're together as much as possible. Because I am fully aware the day will come when he won't want me around all the time.
Parents scoff when it comes to kids incessantly texting away, checking Twitter or listening to their earbuds. But we're raising a generation of children who are watching their parents do the same thing.
Time with our kids is finite. It's important for us, as parents, to remember that in the present tense. I don't want to look back and think about all the time I missed preoocupied with the iPhone 5c or Galaxy s4.
So do you and your child a favor: put the phone down — unless you're picking it up to capture the moment with a picture.
Brandon Wright is a married father of one who lives in Seffner.