When technology becomes the problem instead of the answer...
|“David, sit down. We need to talk.”
Ugh, I hate it when parents say that. You know you’re in trouble, you just don’t know what for yet. I racked my brains trying to figure it out, but I couldn’t think what I’d done wrong.
My mum was clearly the one in charge tonight. “Your swim instructor tells us that you’re not trying in class. You’re not putting any effort in. You were doing so well. Talk to us, tell us what’s wrong.”
I could barely believe my ears. This was the problem? Parents are so stupid sometimes. “How do you know I’m not trying?” I challenged her. “How do you know I wasn't doing well?” I glared at her.
“Well,” she looked confused, “because your teacher told us. I don’t think she’d lie. Are you telling us it’s not true?”
“I’m not saying that. I’m saying you should know. You go to all of my lessons, but you don’t know anything about what I do there. You’re sitting right there, Mum, why do you have to hear it from her?”
My dad finally spoke up. “Why are you so angry that the teacher told us? We pay her to teach you, and part of what we pay her for is to report back to us on your progress. It sounds to me like you’re trying to change the subject here. The real issue is that you’re not trying in class.”
“No.” I shook my head as hard as I could while looking at my dad. “No, this is the problem. This is why I’ve stopped trying. Every swimming lesson, one of you is sitting right there at the side of the pool. Every basketball game, one of you is sitting right there at the side of the court. Every sports day at school, one of you is sitting right there. But you’re not watching. You’re never watching. You’re always on your iPhone or your iPad. You’re never watching. Why do you bother going?” I took a deep breath and realized I was sitting on the edge of my chair.
Mum and Dad looked so surprised. Dad opened his mouth like he was going to say something, but closed it again without speaking.
“Have you ever seen me score a goal?” I asked. “Have you ever watched me win a race? No, you haven’t. Whatever you’re doing on your phone is clearly more important, so you know what? I’ve given up. I’m not going to bother trying if you’re not going to bother watching.” I stood up and walked out of the room without being excused, waiting every moment to be told off for it, but I heard nothing as I walked through the doorway and went on to my bedroom.
I sat on my bed, shaking a little now that it was over. I could hear them talking quietly to each other. Were they going to be mad? How much trouble was I going to get in? I shouldn’t be in trouble, I only told the truth, but being a kid doesn’t work that way and I know it.
Dad appeared at my door, and beckoned me. “Come back into the lounge, David. Let’s finish talking.” He didn’t sound mad, that has to be a good sign. Right?
I got up and walked back into the lounge. Mum looked funny, like maybe she was going to cry. Uh oh. I looked down at the carpet and chewed my bottom lip. I wish I knew what was going to happen next.
Mum spoke first. “I’m sorry, David.” Her voice was soft, and I looked up at her. “I’m really sorry. You are absolutely right, that our attention should be on you, and all I can say is that it will be different from now on. If I’m at your swimming lesson, I will watch you swim. If I’m at your sports day, I will watch you run.”
Dad nodded. “And if I’m at your basketball game, I will watch you play. I promise. No more phones at your activities.”
I think my mouth must have fallen open, because I had to close it to start talking. “Um, okay. Thanks?”
“You’re not in trouble,” Dad said. “I don’t think giving up on your swimming was the right response to the problem, but telling us how you feel was. I’m glad you told us. And you’re right, we should have been paying more attention, and we will from now on. All David activities are officially hands-free from this moment on.”
Hands-free. I liked the sound of that.
Written for "Words with Wings" . Prompt: Technology.