Every now and then I come across one of those viral posts. You know the ones – “Parents, put down your phones and watch your kids in the park! They want your undivided attention, these are the moments you can’t ever get back!”
I’m sorry, but no.
See, the other day I went to the park with Vivian. We’re lucky and have a great park really close to our house, so we walk there often. She didn’t want to ride her bike, so we walked there. Or rather, she ran ahead and waited for me to catch up. When we got to the park, she ran off to play while I parked myself on a nice bench and pulled out my book to read. I don’t go to the park to watch my kid. I go so she can run and get out some energy while I enjoy a little quiet time. It’s good for her to learn how to play on her own. It’s good for her to learn that things don’t always revolve around her. It’s good for her to socialize with other kids. It’s good for her to realize that I’m allowed to sit and read. Do I look up if she says, “Mommy, watch this!”? Of course I do. Do I look up periodically to make sure she hasn’t disappeared – sure. But for the most part, I’m of the mind that the park is for kids to play, not adults.
So I’m sure I look lazy sitting there ignoring my kid, checking my phone or reading a book. Sure I look neglectful and distracted. But I’m still there. And I’m teaching her that adults deserve a break, just like she does when she wants to be left alone. She doesn’t need me to follow her around and gaze adoringly while she goes down the slide.
Sometimes it’s okay to ignore your kids, just a little bit.