Tonight I attended the Spring Concert at the elementary school. As I craned my neck to search for my son who would be singing (or mouthing) and playing (or blowing anyway) the trumpet, I couldn’t help but notice the iPhone attached to the hand on the person in front of me. I saw a sewing machine. I saw fingers adeptly copying a description and pasting into a Google search bar. Up came the search, nudge to the husband, look at what I found. Maybe her child wasn’t on the stage just yet.
What’s with not being able to sit through a performance, as tedious or chore-some as it might be, and just try to enjoy it? What’s with not being attached to the phone every and any hour of the day? Was it really important in that moment to look for a sewing machine? Was it?
I admit I am not the most plugged in person. I hung up my technology hat long ago to learn nursery rhymes and revisit new words, like car, red, big. I did not have to forfeit everything, but I did forfeit a lot. I wanted to focus on something else. It doesn’t make me better or smarter. In fact, I feel a whole lot dumber. I am not savvy. I am not fashionable. I am not even all that much fun. Okay I’m grumpy. I don’t even care for computers. I took a blogging class to learn what a blog was many years after blogging was a verb!
I may not be the best audience for the latest gadget. But I am a better audience when I’m looking at the kids on a stage and not at that gadget. When you go see a show, the screen is the stage full of kids who have practiced, or not, their songs and who are all dressed up and proud and happy and just having fun. Having been a teacher and up on a kind of stage, I came to realize how much you see of an unaware audience. You see everything. If my son looked out with a big smile and searched for me and I was looking at my phone, well I guess I wouldn’t even notice. But he would.
I am not the most Zen and I am certainly not present in every moment. I definitely don’t focus 100% when one or any or all at once of my children are talking to me. But I try. It’s become much harder to do now that I have four kids and not one. I am much busier than I even try to realize. There is much more laundry, much more food to prepare, much more scheduling, much more everything. And there is also much more out there to distract us, not to mention our children. But we can also make choices.
I choose not to pick up my phone during a movie, or a concert, or anything where years ago my phone would not have even been present. It is so easy to pick up the phone because there is so much to look at and search for and check on. But really. Is it necessary? The sewing machine will be there. Will the cacophony on the stage last beyond that one scheduled hour?