I don’t remember if I owned a mobile phone in 1997 when my daughter was born. If I did, it was too early in the communication revolution for it to have become an extension of my hand.
Which meant that when my baby and I spent time together, I talked to her. Or sang her songs. Or read a book if she was sleeping.
What I didn’t do, which virtually every parent I see everywhere seems to be doing nowadays, is push her around in a buggy with one hand while talking on the phone. Nor did I talk on the phone while she was sitting opposite me in a cafe or at the park.
This is not to say that I was some sort of mindfulness freak of a mother — for one thing, I was at work a lot of the time, and she spent her days with an Australian nanny and another little girl. For another thing, I’m almost permanently distracted by what goes on in my head.
But I have to admit I don’t like all those mothers blabbing away on phones while their kids stare into space.
I’m guilty of something similar when I walk my dogs and sometimes take the hour in the park to catch up on texts or phone calls. And…OK, they’re dogs, but it still feels wrong. If you’re out with another sentient being, it seems only right to pay him/her proper attention — be it dog or baby. The dogs are more than clever and connected enough to know when I’m not “with” them, which suggests that your average baby might know too.
I can tell you with great certainty that in a few years they’ll be telling you (politely if you’re lucky) that school was fine, now could you leave them alone to talk to their friends.
So you’d better get in the meaningful communication while you can.