If we open a quarrel between past and present, we shall find that we have lost the future.
~ Winston Churchill
I really appreciated the comments on yesterday's post - I knew I would receive thoughtful responses, even if folks didn't agree with me. Often the topic of Technology and Kids raises all sorts of reactions. It seems that video games, in particular, have been solidly cast on the side of Evil. Listen, I love books as much as anyone else, but if my kid sat in his room all day reading books, I would be just as worried as if he had an obsession about anything else - be it video games, television, whatever. I am okay with video games right now since we have so many hours in our 12+ hours days where we are doing other things. Additionally, playing video games is something that we do with Arun. Yes, even my husband has been bitten by the Mario vampire. That, right there, should speak to the power that is Mario.
Video games are just one sort of technology lurking in our house. The kids have also figured out the difference between live television, the DVR and the DVD player. Arun can pause and play all of these devices according to the needs of his gastrointestinal system. No rushing to the bathroom during commercials for my boy. Hell, no. Arun also realizes that my phone is a great portal into all sorts of goodies - calling daddy, games, sending messages, checking emails, the Shopping List. Since I keep the list on my phone, he is very good about telling me when we need something and declares "MAMA, did you put it on your LIST?" And of course, my computer is where I double check animals facts for him, find images at his request and where I reserve his precious books on lizards and dinosaurs (he figured that one out pretty quickly.) He is even beginning to get interested in the "map thingie" on the dashboard of my car and is asking questions about our locations on it. A few weeks ago, I explained rudimentary banking to him when he noticed that I rarely hand actual money over to cashiers when making purchases (No, he is not ready to hear about the intricacies of the Check 21 Act, but he got the gist of how our money works)
Technology is unavoidable and I am not convinced there is even anything to escape from, save for an occasional vacation.
Recently, PhD in Parenting had an insightful article with equally thoughtful comments on the topic of technology-obsessed parents. Apparently, to some folks, I am supposed to feel guilty for checking my email while trapped in an Interminable Puppet Show of Insipidness. Not to knock the puppet show, but geez Louise, it was mind-numbing. However! Team Chaos loved it - I would absolutely attend another show. And, I would, without apology, check my email again. And that is fine, it seems the Mommy Militia needs something to judge me upon, so be it. I will make it easy for them will insisting it is called a smartphone for a reason.
Nevertheless, the primary reason I do not worry about technology in our house is that I know it is just one part of our lives - as long as my kids have a variety of interests, I will not worry.
We have now been pesticide-free in our yard for 3 years. I mean, who does not love weed? DUDE. But now, I am a motherly maternal sort and must take it to legitimate levels. So, clover and dandelions, it is. Interestingly, now that we are pesticide-free, we getting things in our yard like dragonflies and more butterflies and more lightening bugs. Is it related to the lack of pesticide? I cannot prove it, but it seems weird that more of these creepy crawlies are suddenly showing up now. Oh and Innernets?? I am even growing food. Tomatoes (four types!) and herbs (basil, cilantro and flat-leaf parsley) Sadly, my arugula ended up as an offering to the Bunny Elite circulating our neighborhood (in light of their mass casualties to our two cats and one terrier, I cannot begrudge them their victory.) Anyway, we have designated patches in our yard and landscaping where the kids are allowed to dig with free will. As long as my kids still love to dig in the dirt as much as they love "screen time", I just cannot find it in myself to feel guilty.
Don't misunderstand me, though - I have no illusions that my kids are special or that we are "in the clear". I believe our challenges will really come when we are in the throes of school schedules - when our free time is limited. For now, we have loads of downtime which means ample, daily opportunities for digging in the dirt, reading books, practicing writing our letters, hopping to the park (or pool), watching television AND playing Mario Brothers.
All in a single day.
I know there is a longing, at times, for the simple, sweet days of Ma Ingalls and home on the prairie. But realistically, Ma Ingalls was tough as nails and an ass kicker. Read closely, Grasshopper, that woman was not messing around. She did not have time for your whiny ass. Their lives were incredibly difficult and often included serious struggles for survival. We can rue technology, but undeniably, it has made our lives easier.
At the beginning of June, Manoj began a new gig that has him leaving the house every day. For the past 3 years (with a short 6 month break), he has worked from home. Because of technology, of course. Arun does not remember the days when Manoj was gone every week, flying out to DC. Anjali has not even known a time when he was not at home to meet her every beck and call. She has really struggled with this transition and still asks for him throughout the day. Because of technology, my workaholic husband has been able to be a true co-parent with me, 24/7. When he was home, he did most of the Diaperage and Food Dispensation. I was in charge of Clothing, Barrette Application and Chauffeur Services.
Oh sure, I have grumbled about Manoj working from home because his working from home was stressful for me. However, I cannot deny that having him during these early years with the kids was pretty damned special for them.
Down with the Guilt and up with Remote.