Hey lady, why don’t ya focus on your kid?

While my husband ran into the bank today, I sat in the car and listened to the BBC news. There’s trouble in Barundi, the announcer said. And more trouble in Libya and Afghanistan. I switched the station to classic rock.

Through the window I could see a mother coming down the sidewalk with a baby stroller. It was one of those umbrella models, the kind that flight attendants used to let me take on the plane. The mother wore shorts and a summer top, and took sips from a tall black can. One of those new energy drinks, I thought; the kind with lots of caffein.

Just before she passed my car, I saw her take a lit cigarette out of nowhere and stick it in her mouth. Where’d that come from?

And then she took out her cell phone and started texting while she balanced her drink on top of the stroller. And as she walked, she did this kind of round- robin routine: push the stroller, text, puff, drink, push.

It was kind of amazing, actually. And probably took a lot of mental and physical dexterity. I hope she made it to the corner.

For some reason, I worried about her spilling ashes on the kid, and it stuck in my mind the rest of the day.

Later, I decided it wasn’t just the ciggy that bugged me. Instead of looking ahead, focusing on what she was doing, she spread  her attention all over the place. She should have been “all eyes” on her mission: Walking her precious child down the street, only feet from vehicles going 35 or 40 miles-an-hour.

Wait a second. This mom was only pushing a stroller. People drive 55 or 60 with kids in the back of the car while talking on the cell phone or eating a burrito. I’ve heard that kids can’t get their parents to stop texting their friends during dinner. One mother played video games while her baby drowned in the bath tub.

Why is it so hard to concentrate on children? What might help is teaming up with a friend or spouse; an accountability partner. “You wanted me to remind you not to make calls when your kids are doing homework. You said you wanted to be more available.”

Or how about, “Let’s just eat. We don’t need the TV on.”

Your brain might freak out due to the sudden stillness. But if you try, you might find out what’s buried under all that clutter. Maybe it’s your kids. FFG

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