Yesterday morning I was weeding the vegetable garden, pruning the roses, and cutting back a potato vine that tends to take over. Somewhere in there, I got what I thought was a rose thorn jabbed into my left hand. Right in the space between my thumb and index finger. What they call the snuff box.
I noticed it when the spot started to bleed. I wiped it off and kept going. Not realizing what lurked below the skin. When I was done with the yard work, I went for a short run. Really short. Almost embarrassingly short. Apparently a little over an hour of weeding and pruning can leave a 52-year-old man too weak to run. Sigh.
I got home from the run and started looking at my left hand. I could tell there was something in there. I thought it was the pointy part of a rose thorn. I dug around with a needle and couldn’t get to anything. The wife tired as well and couldn’t find anything. But it was there, I could tell. I slathered it with antibiotic ointment and slapped a bandaid on. Did the same thing this morning, except for the pruning and weeding. (By the way, I also went for a run — it went a little better, but still I just feel so weak when I run these days.)
After the run, I showered. I went to meet a friend for lunch. She forgot. I was forlorn. I came home and took a nap. Started working on a work project while waiting for the moment when I could start making pizza for dinner.
At some point I peeked under the bandaid. It was starting to look a little inflamed. A little pussy. A red patch surrounding the area was growing.
I went to urgent care so a trained professional could dig around and get out whatever was in there. She did. a wood splinter that was almost a half inch long. Gave me antibiotics. A tetanus shot. And drew a purple circle around the red area so I could tell if it grew instead of shrunk. If it goes … COME BACK!
But that’s not what this post is about. I just wanted to tell you about that as the introduction to …
I was sitting in the waiting room of urgent care for close to an hour. The entire time I was there, I watched two little kids who sat with their mothers. One was a little girl who couldn’t have been much more than two. The other, a boy probably around four or five. The entire time they both sat in their chairs with a cell phone inches in front of their faces while whatever game or video or whatever danced across the screen. They didn’t interact with their mothers. Nothing that happened around them registered with either of them.
I get it. Parenting is hard. Sometimes you want a break and don’t want to be on constant watch. But I see this all too frequently these days. A parent handing the phone off to a little one … my god, a two year old! … so they don’t have to talk to them, entertain them, make then laugh or giggle. No, the phone is the thing.
I always looked forward to those situations where my kids and I were forced to interact with each other. When we were captive and couldn’t escape each other. For a couple of years I drove my younger son to middle school. He was always grumpy at having to get up, so I took it as my mission to get him to laugh and to smile during the ride. And to drop him off in a better mood than he was when he got int he car. So, too, with trips to the doctor’s office, or trips to a store, or just sitting in the car during a drive. It was a time to talk, to interact, to think about the world and talk about things.
I firmly believe we are raising a generation of kids who won’t understand the basics of human interaction, who won’t know basic social skills, and who will prefer the soothing solitude of a screen over the rambunctious noise of human interaction. Much to the detriment of all of us.
Put the phones away. Connect with a life that is real.