I was sitting in the hospital waiting room waiting for an x-ray. Nothing serious, except the boredom. I’d read the stuff I’d brought with me, read some dire women’s magazines. Flicked through Yachting World and Caravan Monthly neither of which I do. So sat and people watched.
What used to be a fun thing to do with the kids seemed suddenly incredibly sad. Not because they’re not with me anymore, but because the parents and kids in the waiting room were sitting next to each other like strangers. No communication with each other whatsoever. And that was because of mobile phones.
There was a girl with her arm in a sling – mum was gabbing on the phone to a friend. A boy with his foot in plaster – both his folks were on phones, either gaming or on the Web. The only people talking to one another were two older folks who looked like they’d been together since we thought the earth was flat, yet still had something to say to one another.
Sometimes I worry we’re so busy connecting to someone who isn’t there, or posting drivel on the Web, we forget to connect to our loved ones sitting right beside us.
Sometimes I think phones and the Net are less a means of connecting to a wider group, but more of a means for parents to ignore their kids.
I don’t know whether it’s a spin off from home educating, or whether I’m just old fashioned, but we always engaged with our kids when we were out. In fact the last time my youngest (she was 18 at the time) and I had to sit in the doctor’s waiting room together we had great fun giggling together over ‘position of the week’ in a chat mag. (I’ll leave that to your imagination). It made a dull visit very entertaining I can tell you. In fact when we went back next time we looked for the following issue!
Wherever we went we chatted about stuff; concerns, things we saw, people’s behaviour (good social lessons to be had with that one). Because observing and talking with your child are valuable approaches to furthering their education. Sometimes, of course, we were just companionably quiet. But we were never disengaged with one another because we were busy with others, elsewhere.
Anyway, freed from the waiting room I had then to go sit in a lonely little cubicle with my clothes off and a hideous gown on. Those cubicles reminded me of what I’d just seen in the waiting room; parents in virtual cubicles even though they were sitting next to their children.
As I sat there, a crack in the curtain and a mirror on the wall opposite reflected another cubicle further down the corridor. Inside, a pallid old lady sagged in one corner with her eyes shut looking worryingly like she might never communicate with anyone again. But just as I thought I’d break out my cubicle and go talk to her they called me through for x-ray.
So off I went. But, as I found out later, I had my arse hanging out not having done my gown up at the back.
And it’s just struck me that those people I watched not communicating in the waiting room, would probably be the sort of people to take a snap picture of my backside and post it all over Facebook.
Yet they could not be bothered to make conversation with the child sat next to them.
Is it just me who thinks this is somehow incredible sad?