A real conversation earlier this week with my younger beast.
Baby Beast: “Oh Mom, by the way, I’m almost out of minutes on my phone.”
Me: “Okay, remind me later this week if I don’t look into it tomorrow.”
Baby Beast: “But, I need to figure out with Andrew and Jack what time to meet tomorrow.”
Me: “What does that have to do with your phone? You’re going to see them tonight.”
Baby Beast: “I was going to text them and see what time they could meet, but I’m almost out of minutes.”
Me: “Can’t you just ask them in a few minutes when you see them at practice?”
Baby Beast: “I’ll try to – it’s just easier to text them.”
I’ve seen it grow and fester more and more as my beasts have entered adolescence, and specifically as they’ve expanded their existence into the electronic realm. The need for face-to-face communication is no longer a need for today’s generation — it’s actually seen as a nuisance.
When my eldest was putting off his driver’s ed classes, I was perplexed at how a teenage boy wouldn’t rush to get his license. Then I realized, he communicates with his friends easily enough without having to leave home. Virtual communication is their every day. What’s the rush to watch a bunch of boring videos about how to drive, when he can FaceTime, tweet, text, converse on Reddit or talk to friends real-time while playing a Steam video game with them?
No reason to change out of your PJs or abandon a refrigerator full of free food just to get out of the house when you friends are with you virtually all the time. Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, Ask.fm and who knows what else is new that I haven’t yet heard of. With all these tools at their disposal, they know what their friends are up to virtually all the time!
I find myself asking my beasts every so often to make a point to be present when they’re at home. It’s simply a request to engage verbally with each other, acknowledge the other people who are present when they walk through a room, and make sure to come up for air (a.k.a. get your face out of the screen.)
Perhaps this is one reason why our school district has Speech as a required course for graduation. Now, if they could maybe do just a little more to reinforce the need to know cursive. I know a lot of signatures have become electronic, but for now these still require the real thing: endorsing checks, signing contracts, applications, driver’s license. I mean seriously, is this how their signatures will look forever?
Parenting Tip: Give kids every opportunity to practice real-life communication: order their own meals, check in for appointments, reorder prescriptions, etc. It prepares both of you to believe your beast really can survive without you.
[Deut. 32:10b-11 He threw his arms around him, lavished attention on him,
guarding him as the apple of his eye.
He was like an eagle hovering over its nest,
overshadowing its young,
Then spreading its wings, lifting them into the air,
teaching them to fly.]