Family Practice: Distracted livingWritten by Shannon Szyperski | | email@example.com
My children are getting to an age where I can actually conceive of them growing up and going to school dances, graduating from high school, etc. Perhaps the grown-up activity of greatest concern for me in my children’s future, however, is driving. I’m holding out quite a bit of hope that driverless, accident-free cars will be the norm by 2019, but I’m also guessing that I’m hoping against hope.
My backup plan is to remember that my children are always watching me and to set a good example for driving with limited distractions. I’ve never texted while driving, but I’ve certainly wrangled a phone call or two … or 2,000. The day I realized that driving age isn’t so far away for my not-quite little ones, I stopped the on-the-road phone calls and instead started an on-the-road conversation about the importance of being a safe driver.
Whenever my text alert beeps while we’re on the road, I tell my kids how important it is for me to let it wait until I get where I’m going or pull over if need be. It wasn’t long before they started interjecting the same commentary each time we hear that oh-so-familiar beep-beep-beep-beep. I’m still working on limiting the distraction of my children arguing with one another or our 65-pound dog trying to crawl into my lap while driving to and fro, however.
I have all but given up on limiting the distractions encompassing the rest of my life. They include, but are not limited to:
Distracted showering. After years of little legs suddenly breeching the only 3-foot-by 3-foot space in our house that I can attempt to claim as my own, I finally started to lock the door when the kids were old enough to be out of sight for more than five minutes without complete and utter chaos ensuing. The barrier to my fortress has done little, unfortunately, to prevent screaming, knocking and constant demands to know “What are you doing in there?!” If you’re wondering, the answer is “hiding.”
Distracted sleeping. It’s no secret that we are not a house of good sleepers. My children and pets have conspired to produce a distraction-filled third shift schedule so elaborate that mammoth, round-the-clock employers like WalMart and Disney would surely envy its mastery. Bad dreams, bed wetting, thirsty spells, sleepwalking, bed switching, croupy coughs, insistent meowing, incessant kicking, wet noses (usually canine or feline) and random yelping, to name a few, have all added up to no sleeping through the night approximately 365 days per year for the past 10 years. On the rare, hiccup-free night I still wake up, usually about 3 a.m., to check on them all out of habit anyway.
Distracted while phoning. Being distracted on the phone is twofold. As the story goes, children will ignore you in all sorts of ways until the moment they see you with a phone up to your ear. All of a sudden your status within the household moves from insignificant fixture to person of dire consequence. You are needed. By everyone. Right now. If you’re somehow able to fend off your sudden admirers and continue with your call, children will resort to Plan B: Forget trying to be distracting and use mom being distracted to get away with something. Plan B works wonders if the phone conversation is engrossing enough, as I once unwittingly opened eight containers of Play-Doh without completely realizing it until I hung up and saw the aftermath.
Distracted pop culture consumption. In addition to listening to more boy bands than I’d like, when asked about my favorite TV show I might answer “iCarly” for lack of a better option. I thought finally having a DVR might change my child-focused pop culture reality. After trying to watch the same “Project Runway” episode five or six times, however, I finally gave up and accepted my fate. I really do want to consume entertainment for grown ups, but the lack of privacy, sleep and uninterrupted contact with other adults seem to have worn me down, which hinders me from fighting for such things.
I admit that it was a struggle to change my car routine in order to show my children there is a time and place to remain distraction-free. It helps to realize, though, that one on-the-road text or call, either by me today or by one of my children a few years down the road, could suddenly put an end to all of the other little distractions I encounter on a daily basis.
The thought of such an end also does wonders for making distracted living much more tolerable.
Shannon and her husband, Michael, are raising three children in Sylvania. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.