The excitement was building for weeks. Thoughts of candy danced in their heads and costumes paraded around the house. Then the day came. Halloween! Dressing up at school, costume parades amongst peers, parties in classrooms filled with food and games and fun. I was lucky enough to be able to relive some moments in my childhood Halloween memories (in a costume even). My daughter was Merida from Brave and I was her queen mother turning into a bear.
I traveled from one room to the next to see how my other two kids were doing and let them know I was around. I was helping in my daughter's room on this day. Near the end of the party in her room, I sat down with the group of kids to read some spooky (not-so-spooky) Halloween stories that I loved when I was a kid. I love reading to kids, especially my books. wink.
When I was done reading, all of the children but one got busy putting the room back together. One young lady stood by my side. I hadn't paid much attention to her until I heard her speaking to herself or maybe to me. I heard her say, "Look at all the moms on their iPhones." I followed her gaze in the direction she was looking. Sure enough, they were all nose deep into their phones. At that moment, I was not but it could have been me too. "They are ignoring us again." UHG! Stab in the heart. Slap across the face.
The blood rushed to my feet. Guilt welled up inside me. I tried to make her feel better (or change her mind about it) by saying that maybe the mom's were taking pictures or sending pictures of the party. She didn't respond to that comment as if to tell me to stop kidding myself (I saw you on your phone earlier.)
That really hit me. My kids will tell me if they feel like I am not being present. I try very hard not be on the computer or phone when they are around (or around my family and friends for that matter).
To hear it from a child who was not mine and whose mother wasn't even there, just crushed me. She was making an observation from across the room at random parents and telling me honestly how that makes her feel. She even used the word "us" ("ignoring us") as if to say it on behalf of all of the kids who feel this way. Wow.
I will never forget her words. It was a paradigm shift for me. We need those once in a while. We need to hear or see the Flip Side to really understand the impact we are having on others. Take a look around and see who is really watching you.