One of my major pet hates is parents wearing headphones whilst they are in the company of their children. Now, I see ladies in the park doing their exercises with their prams, that’s awesome, what a great idea, exercise classes dedicated to mums with babies in prams! My wife would also like to personally congratulate any mums who have the physical and mental capability to do that within the first year!
However, when your child starts talking I’m afraid you have to ditch the headphones. The reason is obvious to most but I’m afraid not all people. Your child is just starting to learn how to communicate, they need to practice, they don’t know anybody else to talk to, you are stunting your child’s development – are all the things I want to shout at the parents who walk along with their kids whilst completely absorbed in whatever they are playing through their earphones. Granted, most of the time it is the mums of the two and three year olds who have dropped their older kids at school and are deciding to ignore the younger ones on the way home which is bloody awful, but some of the time it is mums of the school kids, aged between four and ten. They completely blank them out all the way to school, when they could be hearing about the day ahead, what they are looking forward to to, what they are apprehensive about. Then they completely ignore them all the way home from school, when the child may want to tell them about their day.
I took my sons to a school holiday sports coaching session in the summer and one mum stuck in my mind. She walked all the way in with her son, who looked about eight years old, with her headphones firmly stuck in her ears. Not a word passed between them all the way in. At the drop off the coaches said hello to her son, made a fuss of him and tried to tell her about the day, she wasn’t interested. She just held up an ignorant hand and walked away without so much as a goodbye to the people who would be looking after her son for the next six hours, but more tragically there wasn’t even a goodbye for her eight year old. Poor kid.
This leads on to another more minor bug bear, people who pick up their kids whilst on the phone. At our school the teachers bring the children out in a line and send them off to their parents one by one. My kids come running over excitedly, I’m their dad and they are pleased to see me, this is the same for the vast majority of children who come out of school. However some parents are deep in conversation on their phone, not just their phone but maybe with another mum who they haven’t seen since the morning. Their children go running up, but then slow down as they see they aren’t to be acknowledged, again. Quite often the mum will start walking away on the phone and the child will just be expected to follow behind, without even so much as a smile in their direction or a whispered “I won’t be a minute”. If somebody calls whilst I am picking up my sons I find it perfectly acceptable to say “I am picking up my children from school, I will call you back” because it is a perfectly acceptable thing to say.
Yes kids are a pain in the backside, yes they talk a lot and half of it it absolute nonsense. Yes you need time for your own thoughts. It is very easy to train your ears and brain to be a filter, to ignore all of the nonsense and just let in the pure gold. Sticking headphones in is not the answer, it stops your child talking to you altogether and makes them think that this behaviour is actually appropriate. It is not.