Thursday, March 29, 2012

On disappointment

Our children today can't fathom the world we actually grew up in. The moment I begin describing a world without iPads, iPods or XBox 360s their little eyes glaze over and their ears shut down as their defense mechanisms take over to protect their delicate spirits. When it truly sinks in that I grew up in the Dark Ages they look at me with such saddened eyes. They can't imagine how I managed to cope all those years without modern technology.
Modern technology fails to prepare our children for disappointment. Everything is so readily available at any given moment. They can no longer fathom having to wait for something, save up for something or God forbid understand if something is unavailable.

Now, I know it is my responsibility to teach my children delayed gratification and saving up for something big versus wasting all their money on small trivial objects. And it must be stated clearly that every piece of technology described in the rest of this piece and owned by my children has been either purchased with their own savings or received as a birthday gift from an overzealous relative (no names to spare the guilty).

My five year old daughter was funny the other day. She has a game for making cupcakes and a game for making breakfast on her iPod. She asked for the game for Lunch. I looked. There was no such game. She looked at me as if I had grown a second head. "Why not? There is breakfast and cupcakes? Where's lunch?" "In the kitchen, I think I just heard your mother, go eat" (It was 9am in the morning. It took her a good five minutes to figure out it wasn't lunch time yet).
In my six year old son's world disappointment comes in the form of his last generation iPod. It seems his little technological marvel can't play some of the new and current games. He doesn't care that he can borrow his older brother's or play on an iPad. He wants an upgrade now. He hates when I tell him to get a job and start saving the $200 for a nextgen iPod. "I'm too young to get a job! You never pay me allowance on time! How am I to save for a new iPod when I can never earn enough allowance."
"Go clean up the toys the baby just spilled all over the living room. I will pay you an extra dollar."
"Did mom just call me for lunch?"
He thinks I don't know it is 10am and no where near lunch time.

Seriously though, my kids are incredible about doing their chores and I almost never have to pick up a toy unless I am helping them clean up a baby devastated living area that looks likes Kansas after Dorothy's taken a trip. The immediacy of media and entertainment however is setting them up to always desire and need something newer, shinier and faster at the youngest age possible. Thank God for free games and vast amounts of storage space on their devices. As digital natives they can't fathom the true work involved to create, provide and maintain their technological desires.  My children all know the value of work and chores. But I am not looking forward to the constant battles over technological disappointment or the day when they realize the true cost of wanting something that symbolizes nothing in the end. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Champion Baby Wrastler!

I am a champion baby wrastler. I know how to wrangle. I know how to hog tie. I know all the good tickle spots. I can hide and I can seek. I can prepare dinner with a baby in one arm and mac and cheese boiling on the stove. I have spent the last eight years learning to be a champion baby wrastler. I’ve never met more determined creatures struggling to be free in their will to explore everything safe and dangerous. It is hard work, but someone has to do it.

At 3:30 am the sound of the baby crying is the last sound I want to hear piercing my blissful silence. I pray to God he will fall back asleep, but can tell by his shrill cry, that this isn't one of those nights. I pray to God to give me strength. I completely understand why some animals eat their young and I roll out of bed glad that I am not hungry. My loving wife could sleep through Armageddon. That or she plays possum really well and pretends to snore louder when she hears the baby, in hopes that I will hear the baby and be annoyed enough to attend to the young cuss.

I put a sweatshirt on, knowing that the downstairs gets cold. I walk across the hall and enter my fourth ring of hell. He immediately stands up in bed and announces in his determined voice “Done.” I scoop him up, smell for poop, fail to be disgusted and know I have three more hours on this diaper. He knows his life is on the line so he makes sure to suck up to me with a jubilant “Da-Da!” to make sure I understand he loves me and he means no harm. In those two syllables he conveys love, adoration, appreciation, expectation and excitement to be reunited with me once again after so many ours of separation. My heart thaws a little and I decide that his cuteness and unconditional love help guarantee his survival and good health at such an ungodly hour.

We go downstairs in the dark as I do my best not to pitch headfirst down the stairs. He uses sign language to place his order for his midnight snack. He signs that he wants something to eat and some milk to drink. I load some cheerios (WHO CAN BE CHEERIOFUL AT #$%! THREE THIRTY IN THE MORNING!), and raisins in a small cup and fill a sippy cup with milk. We adjourn to the tv room where we watch season four of Top Shot on the History Channel. We sit together, Wrastled Baby eating cheerios and raisins, contentedly, both mesmerized by world champions shooting things. Thus we prove that it is possible to carve out a small piece of heaven out of seeming moments of hell.

Animals Who Eat Their Young – ZERO : My Humanity - ONE