Kids Don't Follow

Kids Don’t Follow

“Look at him,” said Maigret to Albert, “absorbed in that thing again. He can’t take his eyes off it. Not so close to your face, child. You’ll hurt your eyesight.” 

She was in the kitchen, drying her hands with a towel.

“Dinner soon, boy,” she said.

“Five more minutes,” said the boy, Alphonse, in a monotone that suggested a rote reply from habit as opposed to a spontaneous response.

“Five minutes means five minutes this time,” replied Maigret. A trace of scorn crossed her face, and she made a sound of annoyance.

“I don’t understand it, Albert. We didn’t have such things when we were children. We made our own fun, used our imaginations. Played outside, for goodness sake. We didn’t need those things to keep us occupied. Look at him,” she gestured at the boy. “Just staring at it.”

“I hear thee,” said Albert.

“Sometimes I wish they’d never been invented. I could throw them all in the river, the Lord help me.”

“They do have some good uses, I’m told,” ventured Albert.

“Oh yes of course, they could be used in education, one can see that.”

“They’re not going anywhere.”

“Oh yes, all the children have them now, and he should have at the least some familiarity with them, I suppose, for the future.”

“They’re in all the offices.”

“Yes, yes,” said Maigret. “There is that. But honestly, every chance he gets, there it is in his hands. Esmeralda’s three and is the same, and the two next door. Never out of their hands.”

Albert was using his tongue to dislodge something from his teeth. Job done, he chewed on what he had found. “I’ve heard,” he said, “that we should try to limit his time.”

“Oh yes of course, so the experts say,” said Maigret, her tone making her disdain for the experts known. “Experts without children, I shouldn’t doubt. Maybe there is something to it. But oh, look at how closely he stares. It’s ruinous to his eyes, no doubt. And the Lord knows what’s in those things, what it is he’s looking at, absorbing. Oh, I could throw them all in the river, God help me.”

“Five minutes, dear,” announced Albert.

Maigret eyed the sundial, then poked her head back into the other room. She was about to say, “Time,” in a sharp tone, a sharpness poised to increase with the slightest hesitation from its intended recipient. But before she could open her mouth, she saw that her son had already closed the book in which he had been so interested and was walking toward the kitchen.

“What’s for dinner, Mama,” Alphonse asked, cheerily.

Neil McDonald

Neil McDonald lives with his wife and son in Waterloo, Ontario, surrounded by an assortment of black and white cats. His work has appeared in Soft Cartel, X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, The Potato Soup Journal, Adelaide, The Flash Fiction Press, and the Story Shack


  1. They sure do not. Poetic and playful. Excellent combination.

  2. Each generation is different from the previous one and therefore it is impossible to compare what we were and what our children are because they are very different from us.

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