Tuesday, July 24, 2012

On Amusement Parks and I-Phone Obsessed Parents

So I was a brave mama and took Em to Six Flags Great Escape this past Saturday. Despite the fact that we got a later start than I had hoped (thanks to a big old nail that made its way through our car tire), we had a really great time.
Sure, there were some stressful moments. Lunch, for instance, was a bit chaotic. Trying to balance our tray of food, the stroller, my bags, and Emmy as we searched for a vacant table was quite challenging, to say the least. Then, as soon as we sat down at a table, Em grabbed and squeezed a packet of honey mustard sauce, so that it exploded all over her legs (which she then rubbed into her skin like it was sun lotion). Also, most of the apple juice from Em’s juice box somehow ended up in my lap, which of course was lots of fun. And did I mention the grilled chicken on the sandwich I had ordered was room temperature? Pretty much salmonella on a bun – so I decided NOT to eat it (I’d kind of like to make it through the pregnancy without a bout of food poisoning).  To top it all off, the meal cost us the equivalent of a mortgage payment. You gotta love amusement park vendor pricing.
But aside from our less than stellar lunch experience, the afternoon at the park went really smoothly and was, dare I say, actually kind of relaxing? Em and I went on several tot-appropriate rides, including a boat ride on a swan, a train ride through the woods (both moved at a snail’s pace, but Em didn’t seem to mind or get bored), a journey in a miniature-sized antique car, and a few spins around a big ferris wheel (gotta admit, I got a little scared on this one, since there was absolutely no harness or belt-like apparatus keeping us in our ferris wheel pod, and me and my squirmy 21 month old were swooped WAYYY high up in the air).
Em had the most fun in the amusement park’s little water park areas, where water spurted up from the ground at random intervals, and sprayed out of other apparatus in sudden bursts. She ran around, getting soaking wet, clapping her hands and dancing. I love seeing my daughter totally overwhelmed with happiness. There is just nothing like it.
It was a great time, really.
But I have to get something off my chest. Something that really bugged me.
On multiple occasions, throughout the park, I saw parents of children choosing to immerse themselves in their i-phones or blackberrys, rather than concentrating on having fun with their kids.
 In one instance, we were standing in a line, waiting to ride in one of the little miniature-sized antique cars. In front of us was a five year old(?) kid and his mother. The kid was SO excited about the ride they were about to go on. He was talking and jumping up and down and wiggling with anticipation.  He was talking about which color car he hoped he was going to drive. He was telling his mom that he was going to be brave and ride in a mini-car all by himself. And his mom pretty much IGNORED him the entire time. She was, instead, totally engrossed in some i-phone app, or maybe posting to her twitter account or something.
 I thought for sure she would at least put the phone away once they got on the ride, but nope! She had her eyes glued to her phone throughout the length of the ride. In my humble opinion, it was ridiculous.
I wish I could say I only saw this kind of parental behavior once during our visit, but I saw it multiple times.
I think back to when I was a kid, when we would (on very rare occasion) go to an amusement park as a family. A huge part of the fun of visiting an amusement park was being able to share the excitement, the thrills, and yes, even the post-ride feelings of nausea, with my parents. I just can’t imagine it would be any fun for a kid to visit a park and have a parent who is not just unenthusiastic, but COMPLETELY disengaged from the amusement park experience while there. It really just makes me sad to think about.
The irony is that the mommies and daddies who are on their i-phones and blackberries at the amusement park are probably tweeting: So much fun @GreatEscape with my kid! #amusementpark. But if they actually just got OFF their phones and participated in the excitement with their kids, they might ACTUALLY have some fun.


  1. Technology is certainly becoming an obsession and addiction. My dad instilled quite some time ago that all cell phones are not be used when the family visits together. It's worked beautifully! And it's wonderful to see the kids not texting and the parents engaging in conversation across the generations.

    I found you through the MBC and I'm now your latest follower. I look forward to staying connected.

    Best regards,
    Award-winning Children’s Author
    Write What Inspires You Blog

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting, Donna (I will be sure to do the same)! I think your dad's idea of a no-cell-phone-zone when it comes to family visits is wonderful! I'm lucky to be a member of a fairly non-technologically-obsessed extended family, so our family time is pretty much cell phone free. I guess that's why I get so upset when I see parents letting their tech obsessions get the better of them.
      Truly thankful for your comments, and I look forward to reading (and following) your blog!

  2. Things aren't always what they seem. Maybe it was a work crisis, and she was doing everything she could (from an amusement park) to save her job. Maybe they're annual pass holders, and she's seen the excitement twenty-seven times. Maybe it wasn't even her kid. Maybe she got a flat tire and was transferring $$ to cover the cost so that when they were through having a good time, she could safely transport her child home.
    I guess you've not yet had that experience of being "that parent," but it happens to all of us from time to time. Doesn't mean that most of us aren't doing our best, and I think most of us certainly don't want to miss the best moments of parenting.
    I think I'm probably at my worst as a parent when I'm worried about how I'm being judged rather than doing what I think is best at that moment. I know my daughters would agree. And that probably applies to amusement parks more than anywhere else.

    1. Hey, April. I really appreciate your honest reply, and definitely take what you say to heart. I know that this blog post came off as a little "judgy," which is something I try to avoid most of the time.
      I definitely am aware that I did not have a complete picture of everything that was going on in this particular mama's life that might be causing her to spend time on her i-phone rather than concentrating on her son's enthusiasm. But the woman didn't even acknowledge her son, and he was SO excited (in a way that wouldn't seem probable on a twenty seventh trip to the amusement park). It just saddened me to see a boy's excitement being totally ignored by his parent (whom he called mom, so I am pretty sure she was his mother).
      I'm actually quite certain that I have been, and continue to be "that parent" with great frequency, and that others are making judgements about my parenting style ALL the time. I definitely don't expect everyone to approve of everything I do as a mama, and while I stand by most of my parenting beliefs and methods, I'm open to suggestions from others (one of the reasons I love blogging). Parenting is definitely challenging, and you are right that most of us are just trying to do the best job we can do.
      I do apologize if my tone rubbed you the wrong way. Mostly I was just trying to express a concern based on my observation of parents being quite distracted and removed from "family time" by their phones, computers, etc. It's just an honest concern that I have, based on what I have seen happening around me in multiple situations and locations.
      Thank you for stopping by, and I really am thankful for your thoughtful comments,

  3. I couldn't agree more! I love my iPhone and all it's wonders but my kids want me. Being present and in the moment with our children is a wonderful gift. Truly listening to them and spending quality time is what they'll remember. I have to make an effort to put my iPhone away and be with them but they're worth it!

    1. Thank you, Heidi. I know it can be REALLY hard to put away all the distractions and just be present, as you said, for our kids. I too am making concerted efforts (not always successful) to try and focus on my daughter when we are together, letting the texts and emails and phone calls wait until she is asleep (or until my lunch break at work). It can be REALLY challenging at times, but definitely worth the effort.
      I really appreciate you stopping by and commenting!

  4. I think children born into this generation are kind of unfortunate. A lot of parents are so caught up in technology that they spend more time on lap tops, i pads, blackberry's, etc. that they forget that they could be spending that time playing with their kids! Stopping by from the Mommy Brain hop! Am now a new follower:) Would love if you could check out my blog:

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting, Brooke. I definitely agree with what you say. I am definitely making efforts to be conscious of the time I spend with my daughter, and making it count more by not engaging in tech-y socializing while she's awake and in my company. Not always easy, by any means, but I really feel better at the end of the day when I feel like I have given my daughter my full attention.
      Visited your fantastic blog, and am now following! So glad I did the brain hop! :)