Get Off Your iPhone at the Amusement Park, Parents!
So I was a brave mama and took Em to Six Flags Great Escape this past Saturday. Despite the fact that we got a later start than I had hoped (thanks to a big old nail that made its way through our car tire), we had a really great time.
Sure, there were some stressful moments. Lunch, for instance, was a bit chaotic. Trying to balance our tray of food, the stroller, my bags, and Emmy as we searched for a vacant table was quite challenging, to say the least. Then, as soon as we sat down at a table, Em grabbed and squeezed a packet of honey mustard sauce, so that it exploded all over her legs (which she then rubbed into her skin like it was sun lotion). Also, most of the apple juice from Em’s juice box somehow ended up in my lap, which of course was lots of fun. And did I mention the grilled chicken on the sandwich I had ordered was room temperature? Pretty much salmonella on a bun -- so I decided NOT to eat it. (I’d kind of like to make it through the pregnancy without a bout of food poisoning). To top it all off, the meal cost us the equivalent of a mortgage payment. You gotta love amusement park vendor pricing.
But aside from our less than stellar lunch experience, the afternoon at the park went really smoothly and was, dare I say, actually kind of relaxing? Em and I went on several tot-appropriate rides, including a boat ride on a swan, a train ride through the woods (both moved at a snail’s pace, but Em didn’t seem to mind or get bored), a journey in a miniature-sized antique car, and a few spins around a big ferris wheel (gotta admit, I got a little scared on this one, since there was absolutely no harness or belt-like apparatus keeping us in our ferris wheel pod, and me and my squirmy 21 month old were swooped WAYYY high up in the air).
Em had the most fun in the amusement park’s little water park areas, where water spurted up from the ground at random intervals, and sprayed out of other apparatus in sudden bursts. She ran around, getting soaking wet, clapping her hands and dancing. I love seeing my daughter totally overwhelmed with happiness. There is just nothing like it.
It was a great time, really.
But I have to get something off my chest. Something that really bugged me.
On multiple occasions, throughout the park, I saw parents of children choosing to immerse themselves in their iPhones or Blackberries, rather than concentrating on having fun with their kids.
In one instance, we were standing in a line, waiting to ride in one of the little miniature-sized antique cars. In front of us was a five-year-old(?) kid and his mother. The kid was SO excited about the ride they were about to go on. He was talking and jumping up and down and wiggling with anticipation. He was talking about which color car he hoped he was going to drive. He was telling his mom that he was going to be brave and ride in a mini-car all by himself. And his mom pretty much IGNORED him the entire time. She was, instead, totally engrossed in some iPhone app, or maybe posting to her twitter account or something.
I thought for sure she would at least put the phone away once they got on the ride, but nope! She had her eyes glued to her phone throughout the length of the ride. In my humble opinion, it was ridiculous.
I wish I could say I only saw this kind of parental behavior once during our visit, but I saw it multiple times.
I think back to when I was a kid, when we would (on very rare occasion) go to an amusement park as a family. A huge part of the fun of visiting an amusement park was being able to share the excitement, the thrills, and yes, even the post-ride feelings of nausea, with my parents. I just can’t imagine it would be any fun for a kid to visit a park and have a parent who is not just unenthusiastic, but COMPLETELY disengaged from the amusement park experience while there. It really just makes me sad to think about.
The irony is that the mommies and daddies who are on their iPhones and Blackberries at the amusement park are probably tweeting: So much fun @GreatEscape with my kid! #amusementpark. But if they actually just got OFF their phones and participated in the excitement with their kids, they might ACTUALLY have some fun.
Parenting with imagination. Or at least trying.