To the writer of another open letter addressed to parents giving their children iPads in a restaurant:
I don’t know why websites keep publishing these letters. It’s not like this letter hasn’t been written a thousand times before. None of the people writing these letters has thought of anything new to say on the subject.
But I won’t bore you with pleas for thoughtful commentary outside of the Mommy Wars. The purpose of this open letter is to simply ask you to mind your own freaking business and be less of a jerk. The purpose of your letter wasn’t to enlighten parents you were addressing or open their eyes to the error of their ways. The purpose of your letter was to provide a list of reasons why you are a shining example of a good mom and let the world know that you witnessed subpar parenting that you, as a good mom, would never stoop to. Here’s a gold star for being able to able to unclutch your fingers from your pearls just long enough to type out some judgmental garbage.
I would like to take a moment to respond to your handy list of reasons why parents shouldn’t use modern technology to catch a break for 35 minutes in a sticky booth at Chili’s.
“Your children want your attention.”
Let’s not kid ourselves. Given the choice, my children would trade me in for a tablet with an unlimited data plan without thinking twice. Sure, they love my attention. But they also love streaming Minions on Netflix. I will gladly watch them jump off the second step on the jungle gym 38 times in a row. Then I will gladly take a night off from cooking that involves an intelligent conversation with my husband and doesn’t involve being the referee in a game of She’s Looking At Me until the check arrives. And I will do this without apology or guilt.
“You’re going to lose their attention.”
Just because our kids are going to be over us in their teens does not mean we need to give them every last drop of ourselves during years 0–12. And I can almost guarantee that if you spend every moment of their life hovering over your them, they’re going to be pretty sick of you once puberty starts brewing. Giving our children constant attention isn’t healthy for us or them. There is such a thing as balance.
“You’re failing to teach the art of conversation.”
You’re failing to consider that the short glimpse you have into that family while you look down your nose at them across a basket of tortilla chips is not a well-rounded representation of how they live their daily lives. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that it is possible they talk to their children sometimes. They may even enjoy meals together and talk about their day. But no matter how they choose to spend their time around the dinner table, there is one thing we can all be certain of: It’s none of anyone’s fucking business.
“You’re setting terrible examples.”
And you’re being kind of a dick. Telling parents that this moment — this attempt at adult conversation and a meal out that can be enjoyable for everyone — is basically setting them up for a non-relationship with their children is a dick move. Telling parents that handing their kids an iPad will result in their children becoming detached and terrible parents themselves is a dick move.
Let’s have a quick chat about words and how they mean things. Giving your kids iPads in a restaurant is not setting a terrible example. That is not what “terrible example” means. You know what is a terrible example? Being an asshole and teaching your kids that if they believe they are better than other people, they should write an op-ed.
“It’s annoying to patrons.”
You know what else is annoying to patrons? Kids. They whine and they’re loud and they knock shit over and they announce that they have to poop loud enough for the whole restaurant to be made aware. And for every high-horse internet rant about iPads at the table, there’s another complaining about parents who have the audacity to even leave the house with their children, lest the world be reminded that humans under the age of 18 exist.
The patronizing tone this High Priestess of Sanctimommy assumes when telling parents to give device-free dinners a try — like the concept has never occurred to them once in their post-baby lives — is enough to make me shove some earbuds so far into my head that I poke my brain in a spot that shuts off my ability to read.
If I see a family out to dinner and the kids are watching Paw Patrol while the parents talk to each other, the only thing they’re getting from me is a thumbs-up for setting a little time aside for themselves. For some families, things like a sitter aren’t in the cards for any number of reasons. If a tablet at your restaurant table is the worst parenting decision a stranger can find to publicly chastise you for, you’re doing a better job than most. Cheers, Mom and Dad.