By Lisa Leshaw – The Times They Are A Changing
The same way hieroglyphics is part of ancient history so too someday will be the art of letter writing, having a pen pal and knowing how to conversate with another human being face-to face.
I would not be surprised if thousands of years from now anthropologists discovered dramatic changes in the size/shape of human thumbs (from all the texting) and smaller vocal chords too!
My grandchildren are actually growing up believing that restaurants have the same policy as libraries; only quiet voices. Why? Because whenever we go out to a family-style eatery there’s little if any communication among family members. Everyone (including Mom, Dad and all the kids) is playing on their phones.
I realize I can’t alter the direction of society but I hoped to make a small if not impactful impression upon my grandchildren (then 7 & 10). On my next babysitting day I scheduled a little morning outing no electronics permitted.
Oh the groans and moans and protests. I had to offer small bribes and allow 15 minutes for each child to text their entire contact list informing pals that they would be stuck (horrors) without their phones for approximately 3.5 hours.
“Where are we going?” asked Gabriella. “Nanny’s probably taking us to the petting zoo. You know she loves to feed the baby goats” guessed Michael. “Wrong swamp breath” I said with a giggle. “We’re going for a ride”.
“Nanny, don’t forget I get car sick” Gabriella reminded me. “It’s not that type of ride” I quickly reassured her.
Moments later we arrived at the marina and boarded the ferry for a 90-minute ride to Connecticut. “What’s there to do here?” they questioned. “Actually not much of anything” I replied. “We’re just going to relax and breathe in the fresh salt air and look out at the beautiful water”. “Ugh” said in unison.
The horn blew, the captain made his announcements and off we went! The kids looked bewildered and acted antsy. Their feet were tapping a mile a minute and they didn’t seem to know what to do with their hands. Michael actually sat on his. I suggested bagels and we headed to the galley. Thank goodness they also sold black and white cookies. We found a booth and ate in relative silence. When finished I got up and headed towards the stairs.
“Nanny, where are you going?” “To sit on the upper deck.” “There’s a great view from there,” I said with promise. Sunshine, a cool breeze, a cloudless sky and shimmering blue water met us above. Fishing charters and tugboats passing by greeted us with toots and waves. I waved back to everyone.
At first my grandchildren were embarrassed by my (aberrant) behavior. Eventually they caught on and started waving to other boat passengers first. It became a contest (in the end I let them win). Michael decided to lay down on a bench and take in the sun. The metal was hard. I offered my lap for a pillow. No peers were around so he accepted.
I asked Gabriella if she wanted to play Tic-Tac-Toe. We used the back of napkins and my eyebrow pencil. She was not very good at first having not played often. By game 50 she figured out a strategy that held me at bay.
Michael, always the competitor wanted to challenge his sister for bragging
rights. By the time we ran out of napkins the ferry was docking.
We exited and immediately boarded the next ferry docked alongside ours for the return trip to Long Island.
“Aren’t we spending any time in Connecticut?” they asked. “Nope. We’re just spending time together,” I replied. “Who wants something to drink?” I asked after boarding our ferry home. Now pros, they headed to the galley for juice boxes and chocolate chip cookies.
“Let’s go upstairs Nanny” they shouted. “Save us a great spot,” I yelled back. “I’ll be right behind you.” Like 3 peas in a pod we ate, then waved our hearts out, then snuggled, then napped.
There was no monumental shift in their orbits that day. Each one requested their phone the moment we hit dry land. But the times they are a changing.
The kids still talk about the day we rode the ferry back and forth. They no longer think it’s silly to wave to people in other cars. Gabriella is a champion tic-tac-toe player (and now even beats Grandpa). And best of all their phones remain in the back seat of our car when we go out to eat.
To some these acts may seem small. To me, we just hit the jackpot!
About the Author – Lisa Lashaw
Lisa has worked in the mental health industry for the past 31 years beginning in the substance abuse treatment field and culminating with the conducting of Parenting Skills workshops and Empowerment Circles for Women.