Twenty driving hours in the car, countless pit stops and thousands of crumbs and spills. And probably less than three of these hours included a device.
Summer road trip season is an exciting time with lots of planning, packing, prepping and packing some more, especially when it involves a potty-training toddler and a very busy six-year old.
We were loaded down with enough gear for over a week, including tent-camping for three nights. But one thing that we didn’t have: movies.
When I speak with friends and colleagues about the road trip, I always get the same amazed, frightened expression when I let them know we didn’t bring movies along. Yikes! Almost like we are heading into an ocean swim without a life preserver or life guard on duty.
We did bring along two cell phones, one pre-loaded with a few educational apps and games. When I say a few, there were three, and one of them didn’t even work properly. We also brought a Leap Pad Tablet that my son has had since his third Christmas, which didn’t have a power chord and was rendered dead weight after the first nine hour leg of the journey.
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy movies. Call me old-school, but I feel like movies are sedatives to young kids when driving long distances. It helps keep them quite, but what are we teaching? Medicate yourself with a movie, rather than initiate conversation and/or games with family members? Deal with your frustration that we are all trapped in this large metal box together by zoning out to a screen? Sounds good to me.
But it all doesn’t quite sound that great. There is a disconnect when screens are up, when people at a dinner table are thumbing their phones rather than interacting. When we don’t learn how to interact and be human together, isolation causes depression and loneliness.
A weird thing seems to happening as we become more connected, more responsive to the click, more urgent to reply to that email. We seemed to be reacting and pleasing others image of ourselves rather than our own.
Maybe? Or maybe I’m over analyzing again.
Either way, I think forcing interacting with my young kids over hours on the road can be beneficial to their development. Exhausting at times sure. Meltdowns occur. Spills happen. But we are engaging with one another. Learning how to not escape this moment may be a tool they can draw on for years to come.