Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Good 'Ole Days

You know how there are certain things that ALL parents use to get their kids to feel obligated to do something, or to guilt trip them, or to pull out the pity party card? You know what I mean, “When I was your age, I walked 2 miles in the snow and freezing rain every day to school, uphill BOTH ways! So you stop complaining about taking the school bus with smell bus driver Mae” Or my personal favorite, “We didn’t have all these when I was your age…”

So, the other night as I was hand-washing my pots (which, because they’re some special non-stick version of awesome, can’t go into the dishwasher), I got to thinking- what kinds of things like that am I going to be saying to MY kids? Because even though I think I won’t, I most definitely will. What kinds of things will my kids have/do in their world that they take for granted and that were unheard of when I was a child? Here are just a few I came up with:

1) Cell phones. Ok yes, I have a cell phone and everyone I know has a cell phone. Now. As an adult human being. But I am baffled when, say, I see a 12 year old with a cell phone. WHY DO YOU NEED IT? WHO ARE YOU CALLING? AND WHY IS YOUR RING TONE ‘IN DA CLUB’?? I have had discussions with my friends about how we’re all going to resist our children’s pleas to have a cell phone when they’re say, 6. But I have a sneaking suspicion that by the time I have kids who are 6, it will just be normal and routine. Almost, dare I say, a right rather than a privilege. Vomit. Pretty soon they’ll be coming out of the womb talking on a cell phone.

2) iPods. I have no possible idea what to do with the 80 gigs on my iPod, which, as far as I’m concerned, is small. And precious. But I can just see my kids walkin around with iPods the size of my little finger that hold more songs than one could listen to in several lifetimes. They just keep getting smaller and smaller with more and more space. As if that’s normal. And you know that it will be so “beneath” kids to have any gadget larger than a credit card. Because it’s JUST SO CLUNKY AND HEAVY.

3) Washing dishes by hand. Now, I did not routinely have to wash dishes growing up. I was a table clearer, but for some reason my mom just always did the dishes. Reason #78 why she is wonderful. I think that she would rather the dishes actually be clean. Even now, she would rather do them herself then let my brother’s mits touch her pots and pans and, oh right, leave them greasy. BUT, despite this fact, I do think that washing dishes in the dishwasher is a luxury and not a right. I think my children will disagree. Unless of course I just don’t buy a dishwasher for my house and give them no option but to get down and dirty (or clean) with the Dawn. And then the next person who buys my home will think I’m a wacko and my house will be grossly undervalued. But whatever, I’ll have proved a point to my kids. Totally a legitimate tradeoff.

4) Cursive. When I was in elementary school I learned how to write in cursive. I was judged by how magnificently my letters curved and swooped and looped. The Z always got me though. Man oh man, I could never get that one right. Somehow, I think my children will not be learning cursive in the second grade but instead will be learning to speak a language other than English. Like Spanish. And Chinese. And they’ll be all talking smack about me but I won’t be able to comprende. And then one day the computer will break and my kid will have to write a paper by hand. Actually write??? But they never taught us that. What is this archaic “pen” tool of which you speak mom? Awwww, pobre chico, lo siento.

5) Gym class involving actual sports. Ok, so the merits and physicality of kickball are debatable, but in my world, surviving a mammoth red rubber ball being launched at your face by Billy the Bully as you awkwardly dive for second base is as crucial to development as learning the ABCs. Acquiring the necessary skills so as to not be chosen last for the dodgeball team is also a great lesson in competition and, well, popularity. I can just envision my children, if they even have gym class, lining up one by one to play DDR or Wii bowling. As if they need anymore computerized “sports” sucking the marrow out of their creative little spirits. What is the world coming to??

6) Textbooks. When I was in middle school backpacks were banned. Something about bombs or drugs or something else equally inane in a pre 9/11 rural all white working class middle school. Because really, who knows what little Ashley could be lugging in her LL Bean backpack embossed with her initials? In any event, we lugged our books with us. Yes, in our arms. Carrying them from class to class. Talk about child abuse. My kids are going to be such wimpy little tykes, as they most certainly will each have some sort of virtual textbooks, accessed at the mere click of a mouse. No more highlighters, no more bullies knocking books out of the arms of the nerdy freshman, basically, no more childhood. And the end of all things sacred.

7) CDs. Or really, any form of music not originating from a computer. My parents lament the loss of the vinyl generation, and really, it is with some sadness that I have moved from CDs to mp3s for the vast majority of my music purchases. No cool cover designs, no awesome jackets with all the lyrics and juicy information about the band, no skipping tracks when you scratch up a CD. Nothing. Just music dumps, music as easy to come by as the iTunes free download of the week. Where is the fun and creativity in that?

8) Land lines. Will anyone have them in 20 years? Will my children ask, “Mommy, what are those funny looking brown poles with wires between them?” as naively as I once asked my dad what the funny looking black boxy cartridges in our attic were? I mean, really, why have a home number when every member of the family has his or her own phone, right? Obvi.

9) Film. Like actual film for taking pictures. I was somewhat traumatized when I found out that Polaroid was going to be closing its instant film factories, thus making obsolete the ability to “shake it like a Polaroid.” Will the same happen to film? Will my kids look back through my childhood photos and gasp at the poor quality, the lack of clarity, the meager range of colors? I fear they may. And that my drawerful of photographs from my awkward middle school years will simply be viewed as a “waste of space” rather than treasured memories. But while my kids make perfectly pristine poster-size enlargements of their middle school trip to Bangkok, I will embrace my grainy 3x5 photos of me in my braces, me with bangs, me with those truly special red corduroy overalls. And no, I’m not jealous. Really.

10) Dial-up. Oh yes, you cringe, but you remember the infant days of the internet with dial-up. That oh so special sound of your computer dialing into some local place that somehow enabled you to get onto the mysterious fabulous internet. That crackle and high-pitched ring and eventual wonderful moment when you actually finally could go ONLINE! Granted, each individual webpage took 30 seconds to load, but dagnabit, you were modern. You were savvy. Technology had arrived. My children will be so ungrateful for the ubiquity of T3 (or better!!) high-speed connections, the seemingly endless number of cities that are entirely wireless, and the, dare I say it, right to be online. ALWAYS. Then they’ll be on their college green, chatting on 5 different social networking sites on their credit-card thin notebook, and all of sudden they’ll be all, “Dang it, why is it taking so long for Madison to respond?? It’s like totally a two second delay, I need to immediately know what she is saying to Ethan via text message, because I think he so totally is into her.” Right.

So there it is folks, just a few of my thoughts. Though certainly many many more, I am sure. We shall see. Only time will tell.

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