I hope this doesn't come off as too judgmental. What I intend is to chastise and encourage myself along with anyone else who reads this who has been likewise guilty. I am sure I have been on multiple occasions!
Let me start with my observations at the beach yesterday. It was a beautiful day, albeit a little too chilly to go in the water. My son was involved in Sea Cadet drills and had to make plenty of runs into the water and back to the sand and I did not envy him one bit. But, sitting on the beach was sweet.
The first "offense" that came in my line of sight was a girl and guy lazing out on their beach blanket together. After a while, the girl sat up and started fooling with her phone, as all young people must do every five minutes these days. I get it. When the young man sat up and started talking with her (for quite a long time period), her eyes never wavered from the screen. She responded with words a few times, but kept her focus intently on that electronic gizmo. I don't usually carry my phone and it really isn't a smart phone -- it doesn't do anything but bring phone calls to me, and that rarely. But, I started wondering. Have I treated my husband this way when I am reading or watching TV? The answer is, unfortunately, yes. Not always, but occasionally, I really want to do what I want to do. I am reminding myself here that my husband deserves my full attention. How humiliating to be given second place to an electronic device or a bunch of papers.
The second offense was with these two sweet babies, maybe two years old. They were laughing and running in the little waves on the sand. They were having a blast. But, where was mom? She was a good 20 feet back. She looked at the kids from time to time; they did not have her full attention. If a wave had knocked her little ones over, that might have been it. Toddlers can easily drown in a few inches of water. I was thankful that they left shortly thereafter and I didn't have to keep worrying about them. The weekend before, we had been driving in a local neighborhood and saw a toddler playing in the street. Her parents were sitting in chairs in the driveway, probably 10 feet from the action. When they saw our car, they looked toward their toddler, hoping she would remove herself from the situation. Can you believe she didn't? And she also didn't listen to their whining, "get out of the road!" They actually had to slowly stand up and go to her and pick her up. We could tell this was a lot of trouble for them. But, thankfully, they did it. And, thankfully, we hadn't been speeding through and were able to stop for this adventure. Please, parents of little ones, watch your kids! In the water or in the parking lot, please hold their hands! Teach them not to play in the street! And don't be afraid to touch them, pick them up and move them ANYtime that you see their lives are in danger.
The third offense was again at the beach. Three little girls, aged 3 to 6, I'd guess, were walking up the dunes to the bathroom. Their mom tells them not to go so fast because she must go with them. The girl in front is yelling, "I really have to go!" She is doing the dance. But, mom was impaired. She wasn't able to easily walk (certainly not run) up the little hill. She was handicapped by the phone in her hand. She was reading a text or texting or something equally important. She stopped stock-still in the sand while the little girls are pleading with her again, "Please, Mommy, I gotta go! I can't hold it!" The mom responded neither in word or deed. (I notice parents don't answer their children a lot these days, but that is a different rant.) Something very fascinating must have been on that phone. Possibly kittens dancing on youtube or something like that. I am reminding myself again here to not neglect my children, especially for mundane reasons, selfish desires, and sheer laziness. I remember finding myself talking on the phone a lot when my children were younger (pre-cell-phone days) and robbing them of my attention. I made a decision back then to let the answering machine pick up if I was involved with them. I am now nearly phone-phobic because of that, but it was worth it. Now, my kids are older and can take themselves to the bathroom. But, I do remember what it was like when I was responsible for everybody's else's bladders. I didn't enjoy that job. But, the bottom line is, you have to make up your mind to this, they come first. Answer them when they ask you things, get them to the bathroom, meet their physical needs as best you can. Lay the phone down and save it for when you are alone -- when the children are sleeping, if possible.
I am inherently lazy. It is part of my sin nature. So, I must remind myself all the time not to let my laziness influence my children's behavior (not to model too much of it) and not to allow it to affect our relationship. I will choose talking with them, listening to them, playing games with them, helping them, and caring for them as my first obligation and joy. It may not seem like a joy at the time, but the memories and character developed will be a joy later. I think I will go see what they are doing right now.
And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.