Happy Kiddos: Leave it behind

A few weeks ago, as we were shopping in a larger office supply store, my husband spotted three glittery calculators in the clearance aisle. It is important to note that these were three different colored calculators in desirable shades for each of our three kiddos. When he offered to purchase these sparkly presents (calculators can be educational, too, right?), they were thrilled.

I wasn't really sure why they were so excited about...calculators. Granted, my daughters, 5 and 7, are intrigued by numbers and solving problems. But I wondered...in comparison to other toys and electronics, what would these simple machines have to offer?

We hopped in the minivan to venture back home. And that's when the imitations started.

C, my 5-year old, buckled herself into the backseat and put her calculator up to her ear. I heard something along the lines, "Oh... uh hum... sure...I'll call you." In the rearview mirror, I spotted M (7) typing away on her device and pretending to swipe to the next screen and enter her password. L (2) was kicking his legs and asking me to find a new game for him.

M continued to look down at her screen as she jumped out of the minivan, walked up the stairs, took off her backpack. She said something that I couldn't understand as she talked down into her phone, I mean calculator.

I'm not the most perceptive person at times. But I got it.

And I know they weren't even trying to point it out to me.

But I got it.

My pal, Jennifer Cooper over at Classic Play wrote a post on Friday that hit home:

"Yesterday I started an experiment. I’m trying to see if I can go a week without my kids seeing me use the computer. This means, no checking email, facebook, instagram, etc when they’re around. Perhaps it’s the social scientist in me (what’s left anyway), but I’m curious to see what effects, if any, this has on the kids or me. I know modeling can play a role in parenting, so I’m curious about it."

She in her good humor recounted her successes and failures (go read it :)).

I work from home half of every day, and I always feel the need to have my phone next to me to hear the ding of a recent email or the tone of text. But if I'm being honest, and I think I have to be, I also love having the opportunity to check in with friends and beatiful words and images, too.

It is my wide eyes and not the top of my head, looking down at a screen, that I want my children to remember as their mom's expression. It is my nasal laughter and the pitch of my voice, that I want them to hear and not my impatient bark or hurried response.

I'm trying Jen's experiment this week (and likely for weeks to come) to keep the electronic check ins to necessity - and I won't pretend that I don't know what necessity means.

Rachel over at Hands Free Mama is a great inspiration. Check out her thoughts on living for what matters.

She posted this gut-wrencher from Professor T. Ripaldi, and it's the kind of quote I can't not share with you (proper use of a double negative here for me).

When we adults think of children, there is a simple truth which we ignore: childhood is not preparation for life, childhood is life. A child isn’t getting ready to live – a child is living. The child is constantly confronted with the nagging question, ‘What are you going to be?’ ...

How much heartache we would save ourselves if we would recognize the child as a partner with adults in the process of living, rather than always viewing him as an apprentice. How much we would teach each other … adults with the experience and children with the freshness. How full both our lives could be. A little child may not lead us, but at least we ought to discuss the trip with him for, after all, life is his and her journey, too.

Would you like to join in the experiment, too? I have a feeling I'm going to need some buddies to help me move along!! :)

How do you keep your electronic attention span in check?
XOXO, MJ

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