Last week I was ready to check out of a medical office with my seven-year-old daughter. It was visit #4 in a series of medical appointments in a short time period. We both were drained physically, mentally, and emotionally. We just wanted to go home.
But I have been to the doctor’s office enough times to know that check out procedures never go as quickly as I hope.
I am accustomed to waiting while the receptionist takes appointments or checks out other patients.
But I have never had to wait while the receptionist sends a text message on her pink phone.
Until this day.
I cleared my voice to remind her we were standing there.
I rustled the papers in my hand to remind her we were standing there.
I resorted to the heavy sigh to remind her we were still standing there.
Now reading the text, then laughing to herself at the text.
My blood was boiling now. But did I say anything? No. I simply stewed in my own anger and resentment for being completely ignored and disrespected.
And what came to mind was a story of a two-year-old boy that one of my readers sent me recently:
“Last week I was sitting in the floor playing trains with my two-year-old son. While he was setting up the track, I was on my Blackberry doing nothing important, just wasting time. He reached up, grabbed my phone, and in a very frustrated tone and said, “No, Mommy. Play with ME.”
As I stood watching the receptionist texting away, I felt just like that two-year-old boy. I wanted to grab that woman’s phone and say, “No, Lady. Pay attention to ME.”
In fact, I was to the point where I wanted to pick up that pink phone and slam it against the wall. I would have loved nothing more than to flush it down the toilet. I yearned to tell her how downright rude and inconsiderate she was being.
And then suddenly it hit me. I felt the cold hard truth wash over me like acid on my skin.
So how do you like it, Rachel? How do you like it when you are completely ignored and disrespected by someone doing something meaningless on a phone? There are times when your children could say the very same thing about you.
Particularly before I became Hands Free, but even now, on my not-so-good days, my children need me and do not have my full attention. Even now, there are times when they stand before me and I am distracted. Even now, I can be just as rude and inconsiderate to them as the lady with the pink phone.
The truth hurts, but the truth heals.
I did not say anything outwardly to the texting receptionist, but I sure had a lot to say on the inside.
And I bet children with parents strapped to their phones like oxygen tanks have something to say, too.
I imagine their inner dialogue may go something like this:
Why must you talk on the phone while you drive? Don’t you want to talk to me?
Why must you keep your phone at the dinner table? Isn’t this supposed to be family time?
Why must you constantly check your phone? Don’t you know that every time you look, I lose you?
Why are the people on Facebook more important than me?
Don’t you know what vacation means?
Why must you risk my life and your own life by reading emails while driving?
Don’t you know that texting while driving is like driving with your eyes closed? Why would you do this? Why?
Have you forgotten how to say hello when I come in the room?
Have you forgotten how to say good-bye when I get out of the car?
Why did you come on my school trip when all you do is interact with your phone instead of me?
Why do I become invisible when the phone rings?
Why don’t you ask me a question once in awhile?
Why don’t you pay attention to me?
Am I that boring? Am I that uninteresting?
Don’t you know I feel forgotten?
Can’t you see that I am standing here waiting for you to acknowledge me?
Don’t you see what you are missing?
Don’t you see what you are missing?
And do you want to know what I REALLY think?
Here’s what I really think…
I want to smash your phone into a million pieces.
Because it has robbed me.
It has robbed me of conversation.
It has robbed me of connection.
It has robbed me of memories.
It has robbed me of your presence.
It has robbed me of your focus.
It has robbed me of your attention.
It has robbed me of your love.
Your phone has robbed me of you.
That’s what I really think.
And so now you know.
What are you going to do about it?
Last week I spoke of living in realness. I presented the notion that it is not too late to start over. Now is your chance. Whether your child is seven months old, seven years old, or seventeen years old, it’s not too late to consider the amount of time you spend on your phone and make long-term changes. Whether your phone usage is rarely, often, or compulsive, you still have a choice about when to use it.
One more thing…If you have ever been ignored by someone using a phone or if you have ever ignored someone because of your phone, click the “share” button below. Let’s spread this critical message. Together we change the inner dialogue of a child… maybe even today… maybe even a child you love.