This week I used one of those new fangled umbrellas, the kind that closes ‘up’ instead of down, so that when you are getting into your car or your house, water isn’t dumped all over you. You would think I would be grateful for this ingenious new creation.
Instead, the thought that sprang to my mind the first time I used it was, ‘My kids will never have umbrella water dumped all over their work clothes.’
This made me sad.
Their little lives are filled with conveniences, the likes of which I never could have dreamed. Technology has made our lives infinitely easier, albeit more disconnected (as I wrote about here).
It is nice to have creature comforts in life, but I fear my kids are too comfortable, dare I say, soft.
I think of the pioneers who endured back breaking labor and starvation. Then I think of my kid, leaving a body imprint in the bed, his phone-tapping thumbs the only busy part of his body.
- Our kids will never get tangled up in a phone cord. Busy signal? What’s a busy signal? They won’t need to find a pay phone if they want to call someone when they’re not home.
2. They won’t spend 15 minutes adjusting rabbit ear antennas to watch a show filled with static. They won’t have to wait through a commercial break. Or stay up to watch a favorite show.
3. They won’t order the latest set of encyclopedias, or have to go to the library to do research. They will never know the Dewey Decimal system.
4. They won’t sweat like human furnaces because their house isn’t air conditioned, because guess what? They will only ever know an air conditioned house.
5. They won’t have to drink from the hose because their mom won’t let them back in the house on a summer day. No one will yell at them to “Go play” and then forget about them for the day.
6. Judy Blume books will not blow their minds with how ‘mature’ they are.
7. They won’t have to wait an hour for their TV dinner to cook in the oven.
8. They won’t walk into a bank and wait in line for 10 minutes if they need cash, and back then you only had the floor or each other to stare out, God forbid maybe speak to each other.
These days, google answers any question, the Kardashians make Judy Blume look quaint, and binge watching is a term that needs no explaining.
Our kids are so comfortable. Of course they struggle on an emotional level because growing up is always hard and technology is making it even harder and more isolating in many ways.
Think about it — what made Jiffy Pop Popcorn so damn good? It was that your arm almost fell off shaking the tin foil container across the burner. Putting effort into something gives us a payoff. What’s troubling is that our kids are measuring their payoffs by ‘likes’ and ‘comments.’ That scares me to death.
How great was it to stretch the phone cord as far down the hallway as you could to whisper into the phone to your friend/boyfriend? Now kids send snap chats to each other that would make me faint.
More kids than ever don’t care about getting their driver’s licenses. I was gobsmacked when I read the numbers. When a friend said to me that our kids wouldn’t even need to learn to drive because their adulthood would be spent in driverless cars, I was depressed. I thought of those overweight adults in the animated Pixar movie Wall-e, their recliner chairs lined up on a conveyor belt as they obliviously sipped their giant drinks, their eyes glued to a screen suspended in front of their bloated faces.
Watch Wall-e today and it will freak you out even more.
I want so much for my children, but right now what comes to mind is that I want them to be able to: 1.change a tire 2. sew on a button 3. wait without staring at a phone.
You know that saying ‘Patience is a virtue?’ I’m worried about the virtue part. When we make life easy and immediate it accelerates the loss of innocence. It’s like hitting every green light in life. You can’t appreciate a green light if you’ve never sat at a red light.
Green light people are not my people. They’re the douchey guy in the convertible who gives you the finger for driving the speed limit on the highway. They’re the person on Facebook who slanders and belittles whomever does not share their political view. They are the kid (true story) who told me my car was too old and I needed to get a Bugati, like his MOM. (I had to look up what the hell a Bugati was). Green light people were never told ‘no,’ so they believe the world always owes them a yes.
I’m Team Red light.
Red light people have scars. They are fluent in failure and resilience and determination, and it’s because they had to stop. Wait. Get delayed. Waylaid. Maybe even pulled over. They appreciate the beauty of a green light now and then.
We can’t slow progress. Don’t worry, I’m not going to buy a dial phone with a cord or give up microwave popcorn.
But we can let our kids fall sometimes. We definitely need to deny their demands a lot more often.
WE SHOULD LET THEM BE BORED. Obvious fact of the day — you can’t use your imagination if you’re staring at a screen.
We need to remember that their struggles signal growth — that they will be stunted little turds if we’re doing their homework and handling their coach and micro managing their relationships.
When all else fails, we can yell at them through the locked door to stay outside and play and drink from the garden hose.
And please, if you do nothing else, make sure they use an old school umbrella that dumps water all over their little, lucky selves.
It’s a start.