Charlotte and I were at the park recently riding our bicycles when I saw a scene that bothered me. We passed a young woman, presumably a mother, pushing a baby carriage with three small children walking in single file behind her. The day was sunny and in the mid-70s with a slight wind. As we ride our bikes, I always notice the flowers and bugs, the creek and the trees lining it, as well as the squirrels and chipmunks bounding about. But this woman was leading her children around the trail at the park in a tight queue while she busily talked on a cellphone.
I do not know anything about this woman or the kids who were with her. But I thought to myself that this was a terrible waste of precious time. These kids would have enjoyed looking at the flowers and the bugs, or maybe listening to the creek water pass over the rocks and dead wood. Or they might have laughed watching the squirrels and chipmunks playing chicken with the walkers and riders on the track. They all could have talked about the sounds and colors around them. They could have asked questions and offered opinions about nature and its wonders.
Instead, the kids walked in single file forlornly behind an adult who, busy talking away into that plastic box, did not take the time and opportunity that lay spread all around her. I felt sorry for the kids. And I felt sorry for the woman. They all missed out on a time that they would each probably never have forgotten.