And Here’s The Post Where I Offend About Half Of My Readers Or (More Succinctly) Put Your Damn Handheld Electronic Away!

(Just warning you ahead of time. If you are brave enough and are willing to take a hit to your parenting skills…read on.)

We were attending the Cub Scouts Pinewood Derby for the first time. My boys were excited. We had worked  4 long weeks getting their cars ready. The excitement in the air was electric.

At least I thought the hum I heard was excitement. But it wasn’t. It was from this:

And from this:

And from this:

Oh, sure. There was a little bit of this:

But it was mostly this:

For the record, I am not a Luddite. I’m not as up to date on the latest technology as I was when I was teaching, but I am not afraid of techie things. We have our televisions, our DVRs. I have an iPod and my (new!) laptop computer. (The boys play on our old dinosaur. As it should be.)

But I believe there is a time and a place for everything.

Now, I admit. Way back when. When cell phones were first in vogue, I would cringe when I’d hear one ring  in public. I’d glare at the offending chatter. Now? I’m used to it. In fact, I’m known to chat with my daughter while perusing the grocery aisles.

But I never talk on the phone while I am: in a restaurant, in the grocery line, or in a doctor’s waiting room. If I need to make a call, I step outside. Period. End of story.

Oh sure, I’ve been known to entertain myself with Angry Birds while waiting for a doctor’s appointment (sound off, of course). Or play solitaire on a long car ride. (Not while driving, of course.)

So, I will say it again. There is a time and a place for everything.

The kids were the worst offenders. Parents using these handheld babysitters to keep their kids quiet so they could visit with other parents. Or so they could just sit there and stare into space uninterrupted. But some of the parents had their own manners to check. I witnessed one parent, sit in the back of the room, messing around on his iPhone while his kids ran back and forth to tell him how they placed. Pathetic.

At an event. A family event. When kids are supposed to be cheering for each other. Scoping out the cars and getting ideas for next year. Or, what a novel idea, how about watch your own car at its appointed race time?

I only have one thing to say.

Put those damn electronic devices AWAY!

(Oh. And how do I know I’m offending about half of you? Because that’s how many kids were playing on their iPods and Nintendos during the races. Fifty percent. Twenty five kids were watching the races and cheering each other on. And twenty-five kids were huddled over screens.

Not siblings. Other scouts.

I was appalled. Can you tell?

Ahhhh.

I feel so much better now. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.)

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23 Comments

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23 responses to “And Here’s The Post Where I Offend About Half Of My Readers Or (More Succinctly) Put Your Damn Handheld Electronic Away!

  1. Nope, not offended in the least, in fact I totally agree with you! There is indeed a time and a place for things and when your family is meant to be participating in an event, I’d say it’s time to unchain yourself and be on the sidelines. As a parent. And if your children really can’t tear themselves away from little beepy machines to participate in their own event and cheer on their fellows, well there’s definitely something going wrong there. 🙂

  2. Ha! I’ve had this complaint too!! I see so many parents with their faces in their phones & not really minding their children, it’s infuriating!!! I see it all the time at the park & am wondering if it has anything to do with abductions.

  3. jonesingafter40

    I just did a sad sigh followed by a judgmental and huffy sigh. Some people!!

  4. Although I love all these devices, I agree wholeheartedly. There’s a time and a place for everything and I am dismayed that too many kids are more interested in their gadgets than they are in the world around them.

  5. When Cole and I are with other people, we put away our electronics or walk away from the group. I won’t talk on my phone, text, or send e-mails in front of other people. However, If I’m with my kid at breakfast and we chose to spend our time together checking e-mails, reading on our kindles, or playing individual games.. people can mind their own business. We spend a lot of quality time together and I’m not interesting in parenting to other parents standards. I have perfected my glare back.
    I have noticed that younger sibs seem to be dragged to a lot of their older sibs activities and if a parent wants to entertain them with a phone, i-pad or coloring book it does not bother me. Kids or parents who miss the starting time for their own event or are not on deck should, IMO, be disqualified.
    I hope I don’t sound like… Ms High Rode–but I’m very slow to judge other parents…who knows what their family is dealing with and what they may need to cope..

  6. The boy scouts were using them during the races? HOly cow!! That’s awful. Even Olivia watches when Gabe races…no ipad in sight!

  7. Welcome to the 21st century! It’s so sad. Hey, isn’t you b’day coming up soon? Or did I miss it?

  8. I agree! Love the devices, but there is a time and place for everything. Like while I am teaching is not the time to play Temple Run on your iTouch, thank you very much!

  9. EEK! Offended. I will NEVER read you blog again.

  10. Alright, I’m over it. 🙂

    I think that most people find us offensive because we leave the house without things to distract our children; thus, we must interact with them. It’s torture! I must have my kids sit on my lap and play hand games with them or read a story. Why would a parent in the 21st century have to do this? Aren’t we past the whole parenting thing?

    Snarky aside, I agree with you.

  11. I think the other Scouts and ALL the parents should have been cheering the participants. Other kids, siblings dragged to the meet could sit in the corner with their games if that was the parental decision. Scout Masters should be teaching support for each other and required all Scouts to participate. Just my (don’t have kids of my own) opinion…and voiced as if the world were a perfect place….

  12. I went to my grandsons’ basketball games last weekend — 3– and was pleased to see that several of the younger siblings who had no interest in watching the ballgames had brought books to read. There was a sprinkling of coloring books. I’m sure there was some parental guidance in those choices.

    The Scouts and parents? I’m definitely with you with Dawn on that one!

  13. As a reformed offender – I’m with you.

    At a school concert this week the guy in front of me was constantly texting while his kid sung his heart out. I must admit I had a little chuckle when his battery died – the look on his face was priceless.

    But it isn’t just kids events – let’s not forget my famous iPads in Church post (http://houldsworth.wordpress.com/2011/05/15/ipads-in-church/). Sheesh!

    As you said…there’s a time and a place for everything. Kids concerts, church and sporting events where you are supposed to be cheering your kids on are not included.

  14. Oh please don’t tell me those devices are allowed on camping trips!!!

    No electronic devices there, but the derby was the most disappointing event of my son’s life. He worked so hard on his car and he did it all himself with only suggestions from us. When we got to the derby he was crestfallen to see the elaborate cars some of the other boys had. There is no way those kids made the cars themselves. I wish I could say my son finished first but in fact he finished dead last. We had some interesting discussions on the way home. His telling question was, “You mean those parents cheated?” I was so sad he learned such a lesson at such a tender age.

    • I exaggerated. The first Pinewood Derby was not the MOST disappointing event, but it ranked very high.

    • I can’t agree with you more here.
      I made sure that my kids made their own Derby cars, with the only assistance being to show them how to use the tools.
      And then to turn up and see cars that have so obviously been made by the adults.
      Really…what are they teaching their kids? That they don’t trust them to do a good enough job?
      And what are they proving? That they can beat 8 year olds?

    • I agree completely. To fix that (at least I think this is the motivation) our pack has a parents division. They say it’s to encourage parents to work alongside their kids, providing great mom/dad/son quality time. I’m sure it’s to discourage parents from making their kid’s cars. But I noticed that some of the kid cars still looked like they had some help. It didn’t matter for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in the “Show” division. Our local fire department came out to judge the entries and my sons took 1st place and 3rd place in Show. Looking at the competition, my husband is convinced that our sons won their awards because they actually looked like they did the work themselves.

  15. Wow.

    I had no idea it had gotten this bad (this young) in really, such a short period of time. (It’s not like my boys are that old!!!)

    Yeah. Put the damn things away. And parents – put some limits on their usage!!!

  16. I’ve been a techie since 1977. Yep, you read that right. And I used to see episodes of Star Trek and other science fiction where they’d visit some planet colonized by people who wanted to leave technology behind and live a simpler way of live. I’d always roll my eyes and say, “Yeah, right. This is just nuts. It requires too much suspension of disbelief. Now give me more phasers and shields!”

    Unlike you, I am decidedly not “used to it” when it comes to phones ringing in public. We hates them, yessss. I’ve been dreaming about a super hero who does nothing except run around, grab cell phones from people in public, and smash them to bits. Superman wouldn’t even come close.

    I still like technology, but only in certain ways, and only in little bits. And, it’s strange, but the more invasive it gets, the more I start to see the allure of leaving all that technology behind. I no longer find the thought of a planet that forgoes technology to be quite so unbelievable. I’m beginning to see the attraction.

  17. I often wonder what we are failing to notice because we are connected to our electronic gadgets. Time and place, yes to this. Great reminder Jane!

  18. I completely agree, Jane.

    But I need absolution. No, my kids don’t get to use such electronics. My eldest gets one hour with my phone on the weekend because he likes it.

    But Jane, with this second toddler, I pull out my phone at the playground, and I read and read and read. I walk behind him, watching him in my peripheral vision, making sure he’s safe and he has assistance in dealings with all other kids. But I read until I’m almost blind, because I don’t get to read anything otherwise.

    Forgive me Jane, for I have used electronics at the playground. Never at a restaurant or a family member’s house. Never anywhere in public, in fact, except the one place I’m supposed to be watching my child.

    What is my penance?

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