Two weeks ago, my daughter had her phone privileges revoked. And then a funny thing happened. She showed up. I hadn’t even realized she’d been missing. And that’s the sad truth. Hiding out with her phone in her room or down in the basement while watching TV, sometimes right along with us, busily texting her girls (and some boys!) she hadn’t been present with us at all, the real people in her life at the moment, the people she lived with, the people right next to her. Her family.
“So we’re working on this music routine at school for music class,” she tells me. And this week I know the songs and all the kids in her group working on the routine with her and what everyone’s part is.
“I intercepted the football on the playground at recess when the boys were playing and everyone cheered!” And she shows me the mark it left and told me she has a sore elbow, which lasted for a couple days, but didn’t require ice or Motrin.
She’s in my office talking to me when I’m trying to write. She’s in the kitchen talking to me while I’m trying to cook. She’s chatting with me during laundry, Facebook, bills. My daughter, so bored without her texts, seeks me out. She helps me choose my outfit when my husband takes me out. She sits on the bed and chit-chats while I put on my make-up. I remember this. I remember this girl. This is the girl that was my daughter before she discovered texting. Before she got sucked into the very real-seeming but actually sort of unreal world of electronic social networking.
And there’s a lesson in here for me too. How often have I been sucked into Facebook, texting, blogging, ChicagoNow, Goodreads, you name it, to the point of not being present in my life, my real life here in this house with my family. If I unplugged, would my family notice? Would they marvel at my new present presence? Would they think, I remember her?
My daughter will be getting her phone back soon and as much as I assume I will enjoy the return of quiet, I will miss our little chats. That football she caught? A perfect spiral, rightbackatcha, to even more oohs and aahhs from the playground crowd.
But now I know I will recognize when she “goes missing” and since recognizing you have “a problem” is part of the cure, I will find a way to force all of us to unplug more often and be present, in the room with each other and not get sucked into the very real-seeming but ultimately kind of unreal world of social networking. You know, starting tomorrow.
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