I’m of the school of thought that the medical community chalking every single thing up to some sort of pathology, something that can and should be treated with this medication and that, is absolute malarkey.
I certainly do not mean to diminish the horrid experiences that some kids and parents have when it comes to true disorders, but I think there are some fair things to say about kids in general. Like, don’t all kids have some form of attention deficit? And isn’t all that worse with the prevalence of electronics? And isn’t it fairly common for this ailment to extend into the adult males’ everyday life, at least when their wife is talking?
Don’t go to the doctor or the pharmacy to cure what’s ailing your kid; make them unplug and give them some chores to be responsible for.
When I was a kid we had cartoons on Saturday morning. That’s the only time they were on until it was Christmas or Halloween when the kids’ specials would come on during primetime viewing on a weeknight.
Now, there are whole stations devoted to entertaining the kids. While I admit that being able to find something interesting for my baby and then toddler when they were just having a fit I couldn’t fix was very handy, I don’t like the kids being able to tune into something at any hour of the day.
And don’t get me started on the phones. Oh geez, the phones!
I knew that this younger generation had it bad, but last summer that was all in my face when I was at a Reds game with my family and every time a teenager was on that gargantuan TV screen it took them a minute to realize it because they were too busy staring at their phone or trying to take the perfect selfie.
I just find it terribly sad, disgusting even.
We adults, at least those of us old enough to have used rotary dial phones with actual cords, like our technology, but I think (I hope) a lot of us have the sense to put the devices down every now and again.
I know, I know, it is hard. And I admit that sometimes I get a little panicky when I realize that I don’t know where my phone is. But, it is quite alright to be unreachable.
I remember when I was a teenager and being unreachable to your friends or to a boy that just might call was unthinkable.
But to be reachable, you had to be near a telephone, which in my house was the variety that hung on the wall and the receiver was attached by a chord that was twisted and knotted from its being pulled over and over again into the bathroom down the hall so I could have some privacy.
I recall perching myself very near the phone, and when it didn’t ring for a while I would pick it up and listen for the dial tone to make sure it was still working.
Shoot, we felt like we were the Jetson’s when we got a cordless phone in the house.
I got my first cell phone in the late 90s or so. It was a tough little Nokia and I had several different cases I could snap onto the front of it. These were not protective cases, but decorative cases. Nowadays you can’t breathe on a phone too hard or it will shatter, so after you spend oodles of cash on the phone, you’ve got to spend more on the case to, you hope, keep it from shattering.
Now everyone has a cell phone and that is both a good and bad thing.
While a parent certainly has more leverage to exercise over our rascal teenagers, there are also loads of headaches to overcome with the devices that are part and parcel with all of us today.
So it starts here. No devices at the dinner table. We’ve got to have some one-on-one, full-eye-contact conversation. That is my plan. Call it a New Year’s resolution if you’d like. I don’t care to name it one way or the other; I just want to be more connected to my kiddos.
That’s the only way any of us are going to make it.
Chances are we are all suffering from an attention deficit something-or-other of some kind, but I have some serious doubts that it’s the pathological variety.
So let us all give it a try. Put down the phones, let the TV remote stay lost for a little while, and maybe just sit down and color or something as equally childish and lighthearted. Have a conversation and make eye contact while you do. Feel something. See something. Take it all in. Just for a minute. I bet you won’t regret it one little bit.
Reach Angela Shepherd at 937-393-3456, ext. 1681, or on Twitter @wordyshepherd.