With the youngest of our four sons embarking upon the final quarter of his high school career, I can’t help but reflect on my child rearing years.
I have doctored skinned knees, jammed thumbs and stubbed toes. I lived through Barney, Power Rangers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and sacrificed our bath towels for Batman capes as I watched the children launch off the chairs and swing through the kitchen on a makeshift rope.
It is with bittersweet emotions that I realize our boys are all grown up. Dinosaurs have long lost out to sporting goods and I am no longer impaling myself on Lego towers. As the house empties, the tripping over footballs has become scarce and I no longer have to roll with the punches as I ski across the top of basketballs and land in a catcher’s mitt.
These days, when my young men are home, we are surrounded by electronics, laptops, iPad devices and the ever-present question, “Has anyone seen my cell phone?”
I clearly recall when the kids made their first plea for that little device. I listened to the spiels, watched as they performed their demonstrations and even choked up a bit with their dramatic endings titled, “What’s it gonna take to put me into a cell phone today?”
At first the cell phones were fine and Jim Dandy. I could use them to call my young men home, summon them to run an errand or two and, when need be, ask them to pick up a gallon of milk.
Then something else started happening; something that interfered with our family unit, interrupted our serenity and was downright invasive — text messaging.
It was quite a game changer, I’ll give you that. Those children, who used to sit at my knee and hang on my every word, were all of a sudden pretending to be giving their loving mother full attention while they ran two thumbs across their cell phone pads like it was their job.
All of this technology is intrusive on the serenity of the family unit. Our sons have a wealth of information at their fingertips with a little 24/7 action. They learn the news as it happens, have their fingers on the pulse of politics and, thanks to Twitter, know what their friends are doing as well as what they had for lunch.
The worst part is that these days I can’t make a statement without someone looking it up. I could have sworn that my facts and statistics about the Sphinx Moth were right on, but thanks to the accessibility to the World Wide Web and Wikipedia, my statement was not only disputed, but proven wrong during our most recent family meal.
Sometimes it’s enough to make a gal wonder if she raised her children right.
Without meaning to, I brought this burden of technology right into our parents’ loving home.
My dear parents have enjoyed over 50 years of wedded bliss. They spend time together, finish each other’s sentences and truly relish each other’s company.
At first Dad didn’t mind when I brought an old iPad over for Mom to use. In fact he said nary a word.
“Look Mom,” I explained as I powered it up for her. “You can surf the web, look up anything you want and best yet, I gave you an email account!” Then I got her on Pinterest, downloaded a Facebook app and introduced her to the world of eBay.
“I only have about 20 more minutes to spend with you before I have to leave,” I said as Mom sat and ran her fingers across the iPad. Normally that statement would draw some protest from the little gal, which would include, but not be limited to, a well-executed guilt trip.
Instead Mom simply muttered an “Um-humm,” and didn’t even look up at me. Rather than her usual, “You barely have time for an old woman,” upon my departure, she opened up another page and declared to no one in particular, “Would you look at this!”
Dad called yesterday and sarcastically thanked me for, and I quote, “creating a monster.”
“Well, the reason for it is clear Dad and you can’t blame me,” I replied in my defense. “Obviously Mom didn’t raise her child right.”
Lori Clinch is the mother of four sons and the author of the book “Are We There Yet?” You can reach her by sending an email to email@example.com.