I have created an addict. A little monster, really, that I keep feeding and enabling to the point of dependency. Although I know better, my four year old does not think he could survive a single minute without cart blanche access to “mommy’s phone.”
He started as a social user. Whenever mommy was trying to be social, his tears could easily be remedied by slipping him a little dose of “screen time.” His addiction escalated when I discovered that I could survive a trip to Target thanks to this nifty little device that was always with me. With his face fixated on the screen, he didn’t even notice the toys and candy that were within arms reach. Surely a little screen time was better than a sugary sweet or, heaven forbid, a melt down if I actually said that four letter word: “Nope!”
I have always justified being my son’s supplier; I work from home and it is my electronic babysitter. Some of the apps are “educational.” And, my personal favorite excuse, “all the other mommies are doing it!”
And do we really know the long-term health risks for childhood abusers? Cell phone use by toddlers has not been a “thing” long enough to collect concrete data one way or another. I mean, we used to paint our children’s bedrooms with lead paint and – never mind. Bad example.
His addiction has not been without consequences for me, however. He “declines” all of my phone calls, replies to every text with a “thumb’s up,” and has even managed to tag me in other people’s family photos on Facebook. (I don’t even know how to do that!)
But recently I was convicted of my sins. My aunt confronted me on this unhealthy relationship I have encouraged between my son and my phone. After giving her all of my usual excuses, I then tried to pry the phone from his hands. Uff da! The yelling, screaming and all out tantruming was not a pretty sight. (And Cruz wasn’t too happy with it either.)
Dang it! I hate it when someone else is right…
So I decided he needs to give up my cell phone for Lent. Yes, I realize that we are closer to Easter than we are to Ash Wednesday, but it’s a start!
The first car ride was the worst; it was the longest four minutes of my life! But after a day of errands running, it became easier and easier each time I buckled him in. Eventually we actually (wait for it) … talked!
Conversations between parents and children have become a lost art and I hadn’t realized how much I was missing out. My son tells amazing stories – he is animated and enthusiastic and bursting at the seams with imagination. I never would have seen that side of him had his face been planted in “mommy’s phone.” Oh, and he has blue eyes, by the way! I probably could not have told you that three days ago, but I know now.
We are on day three of this adventure. I think that we have made it through the withdrawal period (the computer was his methadone) and we are moving into the recovery phase.
Fundamental to any twelve-step program is the understanding and encouragement from other addicts. Fortunately he was already plugged into a great support group. When I dropped him off at preschool yesterday, he joined the circle and said, “Hi. My name is Cruz,” and all of the kids said, “Hi Cruz!” Whoa! It is an entire generation of addicts.
As for me and Cruz, we are gonna take it one day at a time. I am sure there will be relapses but I will be there to support him every step of the way. I will march with him in parades and slap a bumper sticker on my car that says “Proud parent of a recovering phone-a-holic.” So I am gonna wrap this up, find my son and enjoy some quality time with him. Oh crap! Where is my phone? “CRUZ!!!!!!!!!!”