Sunday, while washing my car in the driveway, I noticed the neighbors two houses down coming out, en famille, for a walk: husband, wife, son, daughter, yellow lab. If there were cockles in my heart, they’d be warmed. And if I had an American flag, I would’ve waved it and shouted, “Leave It to Beaver is not dead!” (Granted, few in the area would have any clue what those four words mean, but…).
Off they went in the opposite direction, clearly heading for a round-the-block hike. This was great. Exercise. Bonding. Family. Old-school Americana.
So, yeah. Side mirrors, hubcaps, wash-down and chamois cloth. Yadda yadda.
Next thing I know, the family is coming down the sidewalk in front of my house. The home stretch! I stand, ready to wave. But… but… what’s this? While the little boy and girl (one holding the still-frisky lab) continue to enjoy the weather and the walk, jabbering to each other about whatever, Mom’s head is in prayer position.
Prayer position? Yes! Head bowed to the SmartPhone god, of course! She’s texting and walking at the same time (and it’s amazing how she’s able to hold the course, not falling off the sidewalk).
Meantime, Dad has his SmartPhone pressed to his ear! Very important business (on a Sunday morning), no doubt! All the way to their house, each parent only half there (if that), ignoring children, ignoring dog, and oblivious to the surrounding world (read: neighbor with his hand in the air, wave aborted).
And what’s really sad? The kids seem oblivious to the neglect. Clearly, they are used to it. Clearly, this has happened before — more often than not, even.
It was a metaphor for where we’ve arrived as a culture. People can’t even take a half hour with their families without their technological tethers in tow. Their addictions, should I say.
Sad. And like the old Harry Chapin song, the cat’s in the cradle. Meaning: The day will come when the aging parents are hungry for attention and care, but their children will be busy. People to text and talk to, you see. And what goes around, comes around…