When I Do Pickups At Daycare, The Last Thing I Want To Do Is Talk To My Child
People that know me know that I am connected.
Not just in the sense that I know a lot of very powerful people, which is certainly the case, but also in the sense that I am Always Online.
In order to thrive in this Always Online society we’ve constructed for ourselves, I have to be looking at, listening to and feeling (in the case of those vibration notifications) my smartphone at all times.
So you can imagine my reaction when I saw that a daycare facility in America put up a sign demanding that parents get off their phones. I was furious. Phone-shaming? In 2020? How could this be happening?
“You are picking up your child!” the nasty sign reminds parents. “GET OFF YOUR PHONE!!!! Your child is happy to see you! Are you happy to see your child?? We have seen children trying to hand their parents their work they completed and the parent is on the phone. We have heard a child say ‘Mommy, mommy, mommy…’ and the parent is paying more attention to their phone than their own child. It is appalling. Get off your phone!!”
(The photo was originally posted on Facebook in 2017, but parents were posting it and arguing about it all over again today.)
Listen, I think it’s great to talk to your children. They’re related to you and maybe it’s fun. I wouldn’t know. I HAVE TO BE ONLINE.
Yes, there are lots of studies that say unplugging from your phone, especially when you’re with your children, is healthy and even necessary.
But here’s the thing: The phone is the only way I know how to get where I’m going, order socks and keep in touch with the people that bullied me in high school. I also need to know what the latest memes are. And it just so happens that the best time for me to catch up on my shows is when I’m picking up my child from daycare. I’m a parent. I’m busy. When else am I supposed to watch The Witcher?
So yes, when I pick up my child from daycare, I am always on my phone. And, sure, sometimes, I’ll have my headphones on. Guess what? It doesn’t do any good to watch The Witcher if you can’t hear the incredible dialogue.
Of course, there are a lot of people who aren’t comfortable with the sight of me barreling through the daycare gates, phone in hand, headphones on, riding my smart self-balancing dual-wheel electric unicycle scooter, but, hey -- welcome to my world.
Does a guy who looks like that seem like the kind of person that has time to talk to a child at daycare? Nope.
Can a guy with his mind on his money and his money on his mind afford to look up from his LinkedIn messages to check out a butterfly coloured in with complete disregard for the rules of colouring in? Of course not.
What if that guy is wearing a virtual reality headset? Because I’ve done that too.
I simply don’t have time for things in and of this world. In order for me to be my most effective, my most efficient, I have to be in an alternate reality or some sort of video game.
Sure, you can go ahead and judge me. You wouldn’t be the first. But before you do, consider that you don’t know me and you don’t know what I’ve been through. And you definitely don’t know my preschooler. If you did, you’d know that he is mean.
Really mean. Nasty.
He’s always in a bad mood and raring for a fight.
So when I show up to that daycare, I’m praying for a notification to draw my attention to my phone, lest I face his wrath.
Here’s just a sampling of the things he’s said when I’ve picked him up:
“It’s about time.”
“Is that what you wore to work?”
“Did you lock yourself in the bathroom again?”
“Have you put on weight today?”
“I made this drawing of you, if you were better looking.”
“If you don’t let me watch Bluey, I’m going to tell everyone I caught you drinking chocolate syrup out of the bottle.”
“Our kitty is in Heaven because Daddy ate him.”
And that’s not all.
He’s somehow figured out how to sign me up to about 300 loyalty program mailing lists. I can’t get them to stop!
He’s also hacked my Twitter account and put out wild, poorly-worded political takes.
And he’s somehow been in touch with Cambridge Analytica for what he calls “unfinished business”.
I’ve tried to convince him that he’s headed down the wrong path. That Daddy loves him and it hurts Daddy when he throws Daddy’s laptop into the sea. But nothing has worked.
So, I’m sorry, but until this phase is over, I will be looking at my phone when I pick him up from daycare.