Thank you for taking the time to stop me to address your concern for young children using computers. You took the time to engage with our family even though your sentiment wasn’t clear when you were lurking around the children’s computers glancing at my children then around the library while I was trying to select books for them. When you asked me if those were my children, I tried to ignore the disdain in your voice. When you said, “computers, ugh,” I tried to remain compassionate, despite my inner lurch to defend this few minutes they sat in front of screens as their only computer time in the last several weeks. When you followed up with a comment about how they looked like zombies with their headphones on staring at the machine, I couldn’t help but agree in spite of the uncomfortable feeling in my stomach indicating the pushing of an edge. When you offered to show my children a ‘trick,’ I tried to remain open to possibility as I entertained the offer enough to ask my children if they would like to see it.
When asked, my children came away from their computers with no hesitation to witness your trick, I was a proud mama. I hope that you noticed. As my three children sat to watch your ‘trick’ without judgement, I hope you noticed. When they had the same look of concentration about them that they had in front of the monitors because they were transfixed on something new, interesting and engaging, I hope you noticed. They smiled and thanked you when you finished, I hope you noticed. We left with a giant bag of books, I hope you noticed. But even if you didn’t, I did.
I know I have wonderful children who do not need to be plugged into technology to be entertained. They enjoyed your juggling act, despite the dropping of several balls. They accepted your intrusion into their very limited computer time with grace. They accepted you for who you were and what you had to offer. So did I.
I hope that one day you will be able to grow compassion for people who allow their children to use a computer. Ultimately, we have the same hopes for the future of our children. I didn’t feel I needed to defend my life choices to you in that time and space. Perhaps because I know that I am doing right by my children. Thank you for reaching out and engaging with us on a human level. This is what I assume was your desired intent. In this instance it worked. Thank you for that, it is a rare day when that happens. I appreciate that you took the time to become involved with our experience at the library that day. Might I make a suggestion for the future? Perhaps a thoughtful question posed to a stranger rather than a judgmental statement relayed in a guttural fashion could improve your chances of connection with others.