What about people deprived of mothers, fathers and other family members who spend too much time online or on their phones?
For the past four years I served as a Director on the Clark County Fair Board. The second Tuesday of each month my daughter waved goodbye as I toodled off to board meetings. She didn't mind the time I invested, she loved the fair and experienced it herself through 4-H. She even took her Bolognese dog to the Washington State Fair where they won a blue ribbon.
Looking for next step, she became a founding member of the junior fair board. They're like a little start-up, raising funds before the fair and trying to figure out what they can add to the venue that no else is working on. My daughter's role was to create and post signs outside the barns of the day's events. For nine of those days she performed her duties without a co-hort who would make it fun.
She invited me to spend a day with her.
Yesterday, a Friday, I headed to Delfel Road on the outskirts of the county and landed square in the middle of the fair festivities.
Then my iPhone bleated.
Issue at work.
I bent my head over the oblong glass of my thin digital equipment. I tapped out a response. I made a call to clarify. I texted a few more times. I flipped through a few apps and responded to email. Closing in on noon, we stopped for a two-fer at the burger stand and the phone bleated like a new born goat.
By late afternoon, I learned a lesson that had nothing to do with local commerce, animal herdsmanship, fitting and showing, what to buy to have softer skin, or how to prepare quick family meals.
"I thought it would be fun to share the fair with you," complained my teenager. "But you spent the whole time looking at your phone."
As I pulled out of the parking lot, I realized she was right. I even had a kink in my neck.
We began our adventure not on the same page. She had wanted to buy a dream catcher, which we had done, but I thought she had already picked one out and just wanted to show it to me and have me buy it for her. What she really wanted was for the two of us to wander through every booth offering them for sale, discuss the merits of each, and then decide together which one to buy.
She didn't want a credit card, she wanted a day with mommy. And even at almost sixteen she enjoys calling me mommy. I thought taking care of a work issue would allow me to let go of the office and enjoy the day. Simple exchanges and assumptions did not define what her intent was, nor bring clarity to me of what role she wanted me to play.
If interrupted internet access causes depression, what are the results of an interrupted family?