I was pulled out of my mediocre sleep by the sing-song high pitched sound of my phone alarm. It blared like a firetruck racing down a crowded street. I set it for 5:30 this morning, which was fairly early compared to most days. But, I had a meeting this morning at work. I lay in the freezing bed, letting the alarm run until Sarah hit my arm. I knew that meant I had to turn it off. I rolled over and got out of my bed and onto the ice cold floor. I crept over to the bathroom as quietly as possible. I didn’t want to wake up Caroline. I heard her doing work until late last night; I wanted to make sure she got her sleep. I took a quick shower, and I finally felt awake. I walked over to the closet and carefully put on my nicest suit. My crisp, clean, white shirt with the black pants and jacket. It made me look like I meant business, like the guy from The Wolf of Wall Street, before all the yacht parties.
I was really taking my time this morning because I’ve been gunning for a promotion for months. I’ve been getting all of my work done, and taking on extra clients. But, I still feel like my boss doesn’t notice; maybe it’s because I hate accounting. I thought it was the job for me because it would give my family a secure future, and I was into math. But no, I really just hate my job. I love feeling like I’m doing something good for my family though; I would really do any job for them. I love coming home to them at the end of an exhausting day at work. There’s nothing I love more than my daughters.
“Hey girls!” I yell up to my daughters from downstairs, “how was everyone’s day?” No one answers me. They’re probably just waiting to say hi until I get upstairs. I couldn’t wait to hear about their days at school. They’re all doing so well. I’m more proud of them than I’ve been of anything in my life.
I begin to make my way up the steep staircase. I got more elated as I got closer to the second floor; each step started to feel lighter. I move towards the living room like it’s a beacon of hope. I was beyond happy to finally see my family. Finally, I reach the second floor. I see my girls sprawled all throughout the spacious living room. But, no one’s talking to each other. Caroline’s typing furiously on her computer (probably doing college applications). Emma has her headphones in. She’s talking to someone on her phone; I’m assuming it’s her boyfriend (whom I have yet to meet). Rachel’s on the couch doing something on her new iPhone. And Allison is laid out on the floor watching some TV show on her iPad. This is not an unusual sight. Mostly every weeknight this is what I am greeted with. Everyone’s together, but no one talks to each other. They all are doing separate things on their devices ignoring each other.
I walk through the living room, and I carefully stepped over Allison. Then I made my way into the brightly lit kitchen. Still, no one greets me, notices me, asks me how my day was. I was met with silence. It was so different when they were younger. As soon as I got home from work they ran to me and gave me hugs. They all wanted to know what I did that day. But now, things are different. Whatever they do on their phones, computers, or tablets has become much more important than our family. I really long for the days before technology took over.
It was not like this when I was younger. My family came first. I was always expected to spend time with my parents and siblings, to greet them, to be engaged with them at dinner. I don’t understand how it’s not the same today. The more I thought about it, the angrier I became. I hate whoever made these things that took my children away from me. I was reaching my breaking point. I felt like I was losing valuable time with my daughters each second they were on their devices.
“Well hello to you guys too!” I passive aggressively shout at them.
“Oh, hey dad,” said Caroline as she barely drew her eyes from her computer. I could hear the exhaustion in her voice. Her voice faltered as she asked me, “how was work?”
“It was pretty boring, plus I had to go in early for a meeting which wasn’t too fun.”
“Oh,” she replied, “I’m sorry to hear that.”
My other daughters have yet to even look my way. I was so angry. I turned around again to see my daughters emotionlessly locked into their screens. I was hurt deeper than ever. I wish they’d want to spend more time with me.
“Are you girls kidding me?!” I scream.
“...What?” asks Emma, as she takes one earbud out to listen to me.
“I come home every night, after working all day long, to see all of you glued to some form of technology. You ignore each other, ignore me, and ignore your mother. You need to talk to one another. When I was younger we were a close family, we spoke to each other! I never see you girls doing things together anymore,” I ranted on, “Give me your phones, your tablets, whatever it is, it’s done.”
“What?!” they all scream at me. They all looked angry.
“I’m so tired of this “back in my day” crap”, Emma says, “things are different now, technology is a huge part of our lives whether you like it or not. You can’t just take it away because you expect us to act like Queen of England just arrived when you come home.”
This hurt. All I wanted was for my kids to speak to me after I got home. I always leave work looking forward to seeing them, and it’s like they’ve forgotten about me.
“That’s it,” I said strongly “now your devices are definitely gone,” I went on, “there’s going to be a day when I’m gone and you’ll regret not spending more time with me.”
They all complained and yelled. I gathered their tablets and phones. Then after Sarah made dinner, we all sat down and ate. But still, no one talked.
“How was everyone’s day?” I asked.
“It was fine,” began Sarah, “I walked the dog after I brought everyone to school, and then I ran some errands.”
I looked to each of my daughters but no one made eye contact. They avoided my glance like they were the Wicked Witch of the West and it was water. They were angry with me for taking away their main source of entertainment. I thought removing these distractions would allow us to focus on connecting more, but they were just so angry. I’ll never break through to them; I had been defeated. I was the 300 Spartans at and their devices were Persia.
I went to bed that night with a heavy heart. I loved my daughters so much. I just wanted to spend all the time I could with them. They were going to move away eventually. But I guess technology has doomed my relationship with my daughters. It suffers if we have it, and it suffers if we don’t.
I decided I wouldn’t let this be it though. I was going to have to find a way to use technology to bond with my children. I love them more than anything. I can’t give up because I’m having trouble adjusting to the ways of the future.