After all, even though I watch my kids pretty carefully, I am guilty of using my phone at the playground. Munchkin is at an age where she needs constant supervision, but Monkey is often off and running, making new friends, and pretending to be superman. The only time he needs a hand is when he needs me to buy his pretend ice cream or to be the bad guy in his Superman fantasy.
There were several responses to the "Dear Mom" post that defended parents using their phones, some with dramatic examples which, while accurate of some situations, probably not the standard reason most parents are texting, emailing, tweeting or just plain reading their phones.
I have silently judged moms who were on their phones--or not paying attention to their kids in general--but only (okay, mostly) if they're harassing mine. I was conflicted the day an older kid was persistently trying to take a toy from 3-year-old Monkey while his mother was on the phone for an extended period of time. She eventually apologized because she had been on a conference call. With so much debate about phone etiquette and proper parenting techniques, I asked myself, "Does she get credit for taking her son to the playground while working or does she merit shame for not taking him home and ignoring him in the privacy of her own home?
Do we judge or not judge? If we are going to judge, why limit ourselves to judging those at the playground? How about the moms who are not even outside with their kids? Where the heck are the dads in this article? If they're at work, they're likely in front of a gadget all day instead of being with their kids.
In order to clarify such nonsense--after all it's impossible to judge properly without inventing, er, knowing the whole story--I've come up with a helpful hierarchy and point system of how to best judge the parent standing between you and your superior standing as a parent.
Let's start by judging a parent who has taken their kids outside. 100 points is the maximum number of points, but since no parent is perfect (everyone knows that!) the best a parent can do is get 99 points.
Points awarded to a parent outside with child when the parent is...
99 points - attentive, but not policing child
90 points - reading a hard copy of a book/magazine or chatting with friends
85 points - glancing at phone
80 points - reading important articles/books on phone, ( 5 point bonus if they're about parenting)
75 points - answering work e-mails that allow parent to be with the child
65 points - answering work e-mails that don't need an immediate response
50 points - reading Facebook or Twitter
If a parent is indoors, they're clearly not as invested in their children and thus the maximum points awarded is 49.
Points awarded to a parent indoors with child when the parent is...
49 points - cooking/cleaning with kids
45 points - cooking/cleaning while ignoring kids
40 points - reading hard copy of book/magazine or chatting with friends
30 points - on the computer/phone while ignoring kids
25 points - kid is watching educational TV
15 points - Kid is watching TV/playing video games
Judgement being what it is, 20 additional points are given to single parents, and 40 points are given to men, because we all know when fathers do the same thing mothers do, they get a lot more praise.
There you have it. Now when you're looking down your nose at a mom looking down her nose at the phone, you can easily calculate exactly how deficient her parenting is.
Tune in next week when I create a point system for Dear Dad in the Recliner.