A veteran was at a Chick-fil-A when a mother and daughter at a nearby table caught his attention. As he quietly watched the two, he became deeply disturbed by what he saw the mom do to her little girl. So, he decided to speak up.
Jamie Mosley, an Army veteran from Kentucky, was having a bite to eat at America’s favorite fast-food restaurant with his kids when he noticed a mother and daughter at a nearby table. As he quietly observed the two, neither realized a stranger was watching. What Jamie saw in that “private” moment left him heartbroken.
The unidentified mother wasn’t physically abusing her daughter. There were no spankings, slaps, or any contact at all. She wasn’t raising her voice or using harsh words with her child. She wasn’t outwardly and openly mistreating her daughter, although some argue that what Jamie witnessed was worse.
As the little girl’s made many attempts to get her mother’s attention, she caught Jamie’s, and he listened intently. He discovered the little girl, who he described as a “talker,” had just been picked up from school, and she was eager to share her day with her mom. “She never stopped talking from the time she sat down. I watched the little girl tell her mom the same sentence multiple times repeatedly,” Jamie recalled.
“One of the sentences was ‘when I grow up mommy I want to be a nurse like that lady over there.’ She said that same statement I know 6 times … hoping for a response from her mom. Maybe mommy would be interested and excited about what she wanted to be when she grew up,” Jamie furthered. Unfortunately, her mom never made eye contact or even responded.
Instead, the woman stared at her phone, but her child was persistent. “She continued to try to talk to her mom about different things that happened that day,” Jamie said. “She got a star in her class today,” he added, and sadly, he heard how “someone was picking on her.” But, her mom refused to acknowledge her daughter, never looking up.
The devoted dad’s heart broke as he watched the little girl’s reaction to being blatantly ignored. With disappointment in her eyes, her shoulders slumped and she looked at the floor. “Eventually, she stopped talking. She realized just how much her mom didn’t care and that whatever was on the phone was so much more important than what she had to say,” Jamie said.
Crushed, Jamie knew he had to speak up. So, he took out his own phone and logged on to Facebook, hoping he could help others realize how damaging technology can be to relationships. “I almost feel guilty writing this post because I don’t want to take my eyes off my kids for a second,” he wrote, detailing what had transpired between the mother and daughter at the table next to him.
“I thought to myself, ‘How many times do I do that? How many times do I not look up? How many tricks do they want to show me and I never see because I don’t look up? How many conversations do I miss with my children when I just give them an iPad so I can have a few minutes to do what I need to do?” Jamie admitted. “Look up,” he pleaded. “When they talk to you and want to tell you how they feel or things like what they want to be when they grow up, put the phone away. Make eye contact and care. Listen to them.”
“Now is the time they choose if they are comfortable talking to you,” Jamie warned. “Eventually, they are going to stop asking. They won’t want you to watch anymore because they know you won’t. You will always be looking down,” he continued. “They may not feel comfortable coming to talk to you about something like a little boy being mean to them at school because you may not listen in the first place,” he cautioned.
“Give them the attention they need or they will go find it somewhere else,” Jamie urged. “And when your old and in a rocker, you won’t have memories and conversations to look back at. You’ll just have regrets, news feeds, and drama that never mattered in the first place. Look up,” he implored one last time. “It’s a beautiful sight.”
“My eyes have been open to the power of technology and what it does to our minds and our parenting and even our marriages,” Jamie Mosley wrote before concluding, “Now that I’m finished pouring my heart out, I’m going to look up and watch my kids enjoy ice cream.”
Technology and social media can keep us connected in incredible ways. They are great — until we begin paying more attention to the virtual world than our real lives, allowing it to quietly steal moments we can’t get back. As the saying goes, “Time flies,” and no phone, computer, electronic device, or app will ever compare to the memories we make with our loved ones. Cherish every minute. Before you know it, those opportunities will be gone.