July 2, 2010

Presently, I am living in Present.

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.


Monkey McWearingChaps said...

I am so excited about my upcoming smartphone purchase! Still leaning heavily towards iPhone but also considering Nexus One (esp. since Mint is now out on the Android Market) because it has a preferred deal with T-Mobile, my current provider.

My limit to technology is being very wary around technologies that allow me to post something to the whole wide world that I may regret later-and it isn't as much of a limit as it is being cautious. As an example, I think Facebook would be disastrous for me, I really do. It's addictive, promotes oversharing (and watching other peple overshare) and I really have to up the time management. Plus, the risk of a recruiter taking offense to something or getting in to my profile is too much for me. LinkedIn on the other hand? AMAZING. It's awesome to see how I was already connected to my classmates.

At some point, I may also re-consider my Twitter policy, esp. if I need to gather and keep up on newsmakers (on economic stuff). I think Twitter is a pretty essential tool for marketing types and I think it's going to increasingly be valuable for the finance types as well because you can multi-task it nicely.

And while I am not always interested in getting the latest gadget right away, I do eventually upgrade. Faster, better connectivity or anything that makes my life more efficient or more fun? Beam me up, Scotty.

Mamma Sarah said...

You have no idea just how relevant this kind of stuff with parenting is these days. Danny makes continuious comments that I am way too "connected" with everything. But if I wasn't then I couldn't do my "real" job. It certainly does require a ton of time management and balance.

So where are the pics of the tomatoes and herbs? We have done a garden this year too and have had a slim harvest so far, but I have a feeling that it's going to get busy quickly. I'm sure Team Chaos will enjoy the fruits of your labor. :-) Oh, and hooray for being pesticide free in your yard. :-D

Anonymous said...

Hear! Hear!

Christine said...

Every time I think about kids and technology, I consider my cousin. Paul and I did all the book-smart school crap and got doctorates and make a comfortable living together. My cousin locked himself up with computers starting when he was little, barely graduated from high school, and flunked out of a fifth rate college in one year. And he owns his own place in downtown Chicago, travels extensively, and is considering buying his own plane. That he can't actually even fly yet.

Christine said...

I meant to tell you that I picked up one of the Wii Lego games - Star Wars (Max was unmoved by my opinion of Harry Potter). We can just pretend that it's for Max. I'll probably share it with him.