My children were in full on rampage mode this week. I swear they were out to take me down. By the time the evening came, and it was time for dinner I was crispy. Dinner time is currently not a fun time with either child right now. Everly acts as though our table is a debate club meeting. She argues the points of eating, or not eating the pieces of food on her plate. This child will argue that black is white, just for the entertainment, so it gets pretty exhausting. Matthew treats dinner like a fight club meeting. Pieces of food go flying across the room, plates get thrown, tables get smacked, and there is a great deal of yelling. Despite being able to use both a fork and spoon, he opts for his fingers, as he can throw food farther that way; he clearly has not discovered the advantage of a spoon catapult. I typically don’t even try to eat at dinner time. My GI has told me to not eat while my body is heavily stressed, as it can just cause a flare up. I consider dinner with my children to be a heavily stressful event.
We have read books, and blog posts, and have watched podcasts that are all aimed at dinner time woes. Turns out we aren’t the only ones. Other people have “dinner with schmucks” on a daily basis too. My kids didn’t respond quickly, or super noticeably to any of the behaviour training methods suggested. So right now, the plan is to maintain our boundaries around dinner time, reinforce the behaviour that we want to see, and not glamourize the behaviours that we don’t.
So anyway, there I was at the dinner table with Abbot and Costello… I was sick (literally), and tired (what’s new), and they were feral (again, nothing new here). So I took out my phone and whispered, “Pinterest take me away…” For a few minutes, I flicked though glamour, and beauty, and helpful DIY projects. I zoned out completely. Bliss.
Suddenly, Everly yells, “hey mom, there are two Jessica’s at the table.” At she stares back at me with a slack face, mouth slightly open, eyes popping out while slightly downcast. “Two Jessica’s,” she says again, and then laughs her little butt off, thinking she has made the joke of the century. I didn’t get it at first, I was like, what the Hell is she talking about; and then she made the face again and boom (!). I realized that it was an impersonation, she was mimicking me, looking at my phone.
I’m not going to lie, my first thought was holy fuck, do I really look like that when I am concentrating on my phone screen. Does my mouth hang like that, do my eyes do that weird popping downcast thing? Likely she exaggerated the look, because let’s be real, she’s three and that’s what she does; but still, even toned down, it was not an attractive look. I said, “oh, you were copying mommy while I was on my phone.” She replied back, “yep, mama, two Jessicas,” and then she did the face again. This time putting her hands on the table top in front of her so that it thrust her whole body forward towards me. I couldn’t help it, I started laughing so hard. I was crying I was laughing so hard. She kept doing it over and over. Matthew started laughing too, his sister is always his favourite source of entertainment. And then she sat down and they both finished their dinner like civilized human beings. I sat in silence and watched them. My phone face down on the table.
After they were in bed for the night. I had a really good long think about what that moment really meant. I realized that I didn’t want that face to be the one she made when she was doing an impression of her mother. Wait… am I doing the face now as I type. Shit, I totally am. And I am sitting in a coffee shop. Stop the face, stop the face… But in all seriousness, the face needs to stop at home. My children are more valuable to me than my smartphone, so I think it’s time that I started acting like it.
When I think of all the times that my phone has got in the way of parenting, it’s very humbling, and even embarrassing. Matthew almost took a tumble down the stairs once while I was checking my email. I’m super busy, yes. And I am trying to run a business while being a full time mom, yes. But there is no reason for me to be checking my email while walking down a flight of stairs with my toddler. And I really don’t need to be on Pinterest during dinner time (even if I do crave escape). There’s a right way, and a wrong way to incorporate your smartphone into your parenting, I’ve been doing it the wrong way quite a bit.
I want my kids to value real life human relationships over digital ones. I want them to see nature up close, not as a close up on a screen. I want my kids to know how to spell, and use correct grammar (even if I sometimes fail to do that on this blog- oops!). Above anything else, I want my kids to know that they are the most important thing to me, not a piece of screen. Time to seek more balance. And maybe it’s time to bring show tunes to the dinner table? It sure works in the car.
Thank you to a friend of mine for sharing this image on Facebook. It just fit so perfectly!