There were a ton of them. I oohed and aahed over their chubby cheeks and festive outfits, and tried to envision what my own baby would look like. I fantasized about bringing him or her to a restaurant just like the one we were in, and smiling because he/she was so angelic, loving to sit peacefully in my arms. (I can dream, right?)
But as I took a closer look, I noticed something. Almost all of the toddlers were playing with some type of electronic device. I saw an iTouch; I saw a video game. I thought, Is this the answer to ensuring that your kids behave in public? None of the toddlers were acting out in any way. I didn't hear any crying. There were no temper tantrums. But as one family departed, I saw a 2- or 3-year-old walking out with an electronic device in hand. He was walking slowly so as to still be able to play his game, and he was holding up the crowd behind him. He looked exactly like a grown man I'd seen at the mall the day before: oblivious to his surroundings, concentrated on his gadget. And I wondered, Do we want our kids to be so consumed by a device that they are oblivious to even us?
I'm just not sure I'll be able to go down this electronic road with my child. I didn't even have a cell phone until I was in my twenties. There was no Internet. There were no mobile gaming devices. I think I played with sugar packets and creamers while sitting at restaurant tables.
Are those days gone? Do we now have to up our entertainment level and buy our babies electronics to keep up with what they'll expect? Or are we setting their expectations when we either buy or don't buy them gadgets before they can even read and write?