March 13, 2017 § 5 Comments
Our daughter’s school trip utilized social media for the purpose of sharing photographs with parents and permitted cell phones for communication, time (in place of a watch), and camera use. When they first outlined these details in the family pre-travel meeting, my daughter was uninterested in bringing a phone. My husband and I suggested she use her phone for photographs but resist the temptation to check in with us. To disconnect from her phone and connect with her environment.
In the same meeting we listened to humorous anecdotes of previous trips, parents calling the chaperones to ask questions based on social media snapshots of the trip. My husband and I laughed along with the collective amusement of the other parents at the obvious interference of helicopter parents and pledged not to disrupt our daughter’s exercise in independence.
Then, our daughter left home and early online images of her trip challenged our conviction. Looking at the social media snapshots of our daughter’s first day, I wondered such insignificant worries. Why are some chaperones so much more thoughtful in their documentation, while our’s appears lacking. Other times I would catch the corner of my daughter’s image and wonder if she were warm enough, tended to.
The pictures were inconsequential to my daughter’s experience and their value disproportionate to my doubts.
It is a strange disparity in pictures. The stories we tell ourselves and the meaning we infer. This age of hyper-connectivity invites unwelcome comparison and worry. These conveniences meant to lend comfort, invite opportunities for troublesome interference and undermine the illusion of independence our children need for maturity.
Modern conveniences let us meddle in a way that sabotages mindfulness with a distortion of truth. At the end of the second day it took every ounce of willpower not to pepper my daughter with reminders, to use the information I had been given to assume and infer, interrupt and instruct.
Today I’m celebrating the invitation to succeed with an imperfect practice of patience. Setting aside the stories I’ve created for my daughter’s photographs, to better fill in the space of her absence with the stories she tells face to face. Honoring the spirit of our first instructions with actions, disconnecting online to reconnect in realtime.