I was on a run last week through a nice neighborhood here in McFarland. Ahead of me I could see a father and son pulling a wagon. As I got closer I could see that the boy was dressed in his Boy Scout uniform and they were delivering whatever it is they had sold for the fundraiser. (All I know is the Girl Scouts do the cookies.) It was nice to see the father-son team out on a chilly fall day working together.
My route for the day called for me to turn around about a half-mile down the road. On my way back, I could see the two leaving a driveway and start back down the road towards me. When I got close, I noticed the dad pulling out one (of two) earbuds from his ear to talk with his son. He had been using both earbuds to listen to whatever was on his iPod… as he was walking and working with his son.
My heart dropped.
He was multi-tasking his son. I know because I take every opportunity I can to listen to a podcast, read a blog, or study a few slides and notes for class. Driving alone in the car is great – I can get some good content for 20 minutes or more, uninterrupted. I know what this dad was doing, and part of me understands the temptation but none of me is ok with acting on that temptation. You cannot multi-task your son.
Most studies will tell you the brain cannot effectively multi-task. You can fool yourself into thinking you’re getting studying done while listening to some tunes, and keeping an eye on the news from the TV in the corner and chatting with a few people via text on your iPhone. But if you were to critically analyze the quality of that studying, there’s no way it compares to what you could do if you were alone, device-free at a quite desk in the library. Pursuing a disciplined lifestyle requires knowing your limits. Maybe the dad had a big presentation to review for. Maybe he had a really good sermon from church that he needed to review again. Maybe he’s a big U2 fan and the music was moving him in Mysterious Ways. Or maybe it was sports radio. Whatever the case, when your 8-year old is working through a list of orders, names, and boxes of whatever Boy Scouts sell, it’s time to take out both earbuds and spend some time with your boy.