Usually on the train, I see not only kids — but adults — eyes down in their hands, focused on whatever game they happen to be playing on their mobile device. Yes, most of those well-dressed businessmen you see are playing Tetris or Monopoly. I’ve seen it. And the kids are seated with either a Nintendo in their hands, or Mom’s phone. Peace and quiet.
On this particular morning, a mom with a stroller and a toddler sat down next to me. The little boy was fine while he was standing and walking, but as soon as the train started moving, and mom scooped him up in her arms, he started wailing. Loudly.
What did she do? With a train full of coffee-deprived commuters looking at her, she did not reach into a bag to pull out a bright, shiny toy, or a phone to hand to him — instead she started to sing. Yes, sing.
“The wheels on the train go round and round…” she sang, while more and more people started to glare. The parents on the train, myself included, felt for her, having been in the same predicament many times. I’m sure they wondered the same thing I did. When will she reach into that bag and pull out a game for him?
As the wheels on the train went round and round, she continued singing, encouraging him to join her while she showed him her smiling face. The rest of the train was driven to distraction, but this little boy clearly wasn’t. Soon we were all singing along with her in our heads, trying to drown out the screaming.
And then, after what seemed like forever, but in reality was just a few moments, the boy looked up at his mom’s face and started singing with her. And as they sang, the rest of the us smiled. It was quite an amazing moment.
It made me wonder; are we too quick to hand a tech toy or an iPhone to our children in those situations because we’re worried about disturbing others? Is it because we don’t want to struggle with a screaming toddler? Perhaps we just don’t want to sing in front of a crowded train full of strangers.
I wondered why the woman chose this route; was she the most patient mom I ever saw? Or perhaps she just doesn’t want her kids using technology as a pacifier at such a young age.
Whatever her reasons, I applaud her, even though I’m still singing “Wheels on the Train” in my head at this very moment.
Do you use tech to soothe and quiet your toddler in crowded environments? Let us know what you would have done in this situation.
Image courtesy of doc(q)man