There are many disadvantages living in a big city.
When I tell most people that I live in downtown Toronto, they usually make a face and make comments about traffic and “big city” living.
Truth be told, traffic does suck a little bit, but more for people who actually live in the suburbs and drive into the city. I usually am going against the traffic – although there is ALWAYS traffic regardless – but it’s manageable.
However “big city” living is not what people think. We live in a “neighborhood”. Yes, our property lots are tiny, and we have lots of stairs in our house because they are all skinny homes with lots of stories. And yes, we pay a FORTUNE. But I just look at it as forced savings:)
But it is a real neighborhood! The schools are all within walking distance (3 minutes for the elementary school and 20 minutes for the high school). We can walk to the grocery store, the bookstore, the drugstore, the post office, the doctor’s office, the gym, parks, dance school, tons of restaurants, nail salons, and even my two favourite clothing stores. You don’t need to get in a car.
When my boys were young, we even walked to daycare. Sometimes I put the boys in the stroller and took them (until my stroller was sadly stolen off my front porch – I guess a downfall of city living – there was a stroller robbing ring in our neighborhood many years back) or the wagon, if I was in a hurry or felt like taking a longer route in the evening. Walking was sometimes a challenge as Josh would cry all the way (have I ever mentioned he was a fussy child??) The neighbors knew the drill well.
We got familiar with every crack in the sidewalk, every ledge to balance on, every flower garden NOT to step in. If they were in the stroller, we would be chatting about the doggies we saw, the pretty houses, who lives where, what they were going to be doing that day or what they did. It was a great 10 minutes every morning and every evening. I actually miss it! Even though my kids are old enough to walk the 3 minutes to school, we actually usually still walk with them. It’s just a couple of extra minutes to share stories and chat. We do that at home I know, but there is something special about that time.
The other morning I was out for a run and I saw a woman pushing a stroller heading towards the daycare. Ahh, the memories flooded in of those stroller days. I looked at her almost wistfully – a bit jealous that she has all those days still ahead. Then I got a bit closer to her and looked at her little guy all snuggled in the stroller.
On an ipad.
Ok. I’m not trying to be too judgey judgey here. Listen, I am not one to say that I didn’t (and don’t ) use the TV as a babysitter sometimes (ok, often), or hand a kid my iphone to keep them quiet on a longer trip, or boring outing. My kids are well versed with the ipad, the iphone, the touch, the TV, the Wii, the Playstation, and the computer. Trust me.
I also know about those kids that are fussy, whiny and just plain challenging. Those who cry often. Or have fits or tantrums. And I know about doing anything to keep them quiet for some peace. So, maybe if ipads were around when Josh was little I would have used it (although he likely would have thrown it on the street as he cried.)
But seeing the little guy, playing on his ipad on the 10 minute walk to daycare made me a little sad.
I wanted to tell the woman how one day she would miss these stroller walks. She would miss out on looking fondly at the memories of a little kid chatting away about flowers and trees and doggies and things that adult eyes don’t even see. She was missing out on pointing out things to her little guy too. These moments she would never get back!
Or maybe it was a one off day and she never gives him the ipad and it was a special treat. But I’m glad I saw it because it left an impression on me.
It got me thinking about what a blessing technology can be, but what a disservice it can be to our relationships too!!
So, I made a “note to self” : monitor my technology use and the technology use of my kids to ensure that we are not missing out on special times that are happening now.
I think it’s all about being present. If technology helps me be more involved with my kids – like sending them a text, or taking a picture of them playing, then it’s a good use. But if it is drawing me or them away from a moment – then it needs to be limited. Emails, texts, games, messages will all be there later. But childhood won’t and I don’t want to miss out on precious big kid “stroller” moments.