Last week I wrote about a Facebook argument I got into over children not ‘behaving properly’ in a restaurant. My friend, who wrote the original post, pointed out that she felt perhaps the children were acting out in an attempt to capture their parents’ attention. And that, folks, is the whole point.
We have become a society of ABSENTEE parents.
It is not just that both parents working outside of the home has become the norm. That is bad enough. Children getting up before the break of dawn, rushed from the moment they wake up. Often leaving the house without breakfast even.
Spending hours cooped up inside a school room where they are taught facts not how to think, to be quiet, sit still and that authority is more important than original thought.
Then they are shuffled off to another semi-school like environment in after-school programs…or worse yet left to their own devices as latch-key kids.
Dinner, the one family meal of the day, is more often than not fast-food in front of the computer or TV.
The only time parents interact with their children is to tell them what to do. ‘Do your homework.’ (Like they have not had enough with 7+ hours of work already.) ‘Eat your dinner.’ ‘Get off that damned game and clean your room.’
Even on the weekends when families could and should share time together. Even like that family when they are in the same place…supposedly to enjoy a meal together…the parents are on their phones texting or social media.
I see it every time PanKwake and I are in the park after school. Because of her autism, PanKwake can be a tiny bit…demanding. All children are. The only difference between the ‘normal’ kids all around her and my daughter…she will not be ignored. She will keep at it…she will not be silent…until she gets your attention.
Sometimes I wish all children were high-functioning autistic. Because the broken spirits that I see littering the playgrounds. The ignored children will one day become angry teens…then broken adults.
These kids have spent that whole day in the classroom. Then their nannies, au pairs, grandparents and the occasional stay-at-home mom or dad pick them up from school and stop in the park on the way home. They have one hour…max…before they are rushed home to dinner, homework, bath and bed. One hour of play out of twenty-four? And they are the lucky ones, who got to stop in the park.
And what do those nannies, au pairs, grandparents, moms and dads do? They sit their selfish, lazy asses on the benches with their phones in their hands texting, social media or talking. Or they stand around in cliques talking about the latest renovations on their million pound homes, work or their holidays.
Then there is ME.
Like I said my beloved autistic Princess will NOT tolerate such bull shit. She wants to play tag, hide-n-seek and build sand castles. She needs to be pushed on the swing…and just told that she is a ‘good girl.’
So there I am the fifty-year old Mom, who is ALWAYS ‘it,’ running after not just her child but theirs too. And do you know what I see? Little faces light up…because an adult is actually engaging with them. Participating in their games. Talking with them. And most importantly…truly listening.
And those absentee parents?
I get one of two reactions from them. Either they stick those nose up in the air, looking down on me as a ‘helicopter’ Mom. Some even dragging their poor kids away from the ‘special’ family. Or I get looks of admiration. I can handle that, but then I think…so get your ass up and join us!
My friend was right…
Our children are not the problem. WE ARE!
We don’t have time for our kids any more. No, we don’t MAKE time for them. Jobs. Friends. Social circles or social media, it does not matter. Our possessions. All of these are more important than the MOST important thing we ever did or have…our children.
We are honestly too selfish to have them. We do not deserve these special blessings.
The other week my younger son told me that he and his girlfriend have decided they do not want children. He told me that they would rather put their time into their careers and each other. I think I shocked him a bit when I told him I was proud of that thoughtful decision. As the Mom of six, I think he assumed I would be disappointed, but as I told him…
If you are not prepared to sacrifice, to put your children above yourself, your own needs…then DON’T HAVE THEM!
So next time you do something with your kids…like the park or eating out…turn off your *F’ing* phone and actually engage with them. Play their games. Talk to them. And just listen. They are damned smart and insightful little humans…probably much more so than your ‘social set.’