Monday, November 29, 2010

Boys & Their Toys

I blame my boys' lack of patience on technology. I'm not anti-technology by any means. Quite the opposite. I just think that my children have been born into a world of instant gratification.

It seems like every toy has to DO something. In order for it to be deemed "cool" by my sons, it has to talk, play music, move or having flashing lights. Remember when toys ran on imagination? I realize I will be falling into the pattern of my parents, and theirs before them, when I say, "When I was a kid...." But really, we didn't have to have dolls that cried or wet their pants. In fact, my brother and I used to play with a set of Legos® that wasn't preordained to be something. The blocks didn't have to be the pirate ship on the front of the box. They were just a box full of random blocks ready to be anything our little minds molded them into. My mom still has them and they happen to be one of the boys' favorite things to play with when they visit.

I admit, I'm guilty of setting my children in front of a video game when I really need some uninterrupted time to finish something. But they can hardly sit still for the entire two minutes it take for the game to load. My first video game was on a black and neon green screen. We hit a cube (ball) between two vertical lines. Now I have to monitor every game they play for violence and sexual content. Pathetic. I realized that Kam may have too much video game exposure under his belt when I was visiting my parents last weekend. Grammie and Papa took us all to a matinee. The green screen came up proclaiming that the next preview was suitable for all audiences and Kam leaned over and said, "It's loading."

It's just a little scary, too, when I'm fumbling around behind the TV, plugging and unplugging cables to switch the TV from the video game to the DVD player and Kam wanders over, hands me a cable, and says, "Here Mommy, it's this one. See?" And he's right.

Not only is it toys, it's day to day conveniences. I used to have to wait for water to boil (on the stove) in order to cook a hot dog. Now, twenty-five seconds later and we're ready for the ketchup and mustard. I started a couple of fires back in the day waiting for the oil in the pan (on the stove) to be hot enough to pop popcorn.

A trip to the library with Kaiden has the same atmosphere as a trip to the museum. All our research is done on the Internet. Kaiden once commented, "Wow, Mom. Look at all these real live books!"

My husband and I only have cell phones now. All you have to do is push one button to connect. I once scolded Kamrin, went into another room to finish folding laundry, came back into the kitchen, only to find Kamrin had speed-dialed Grammie to tell her the injustice of it all. Can you imagine them on a rotary phone? Once you started dialing, you had to wait for the dial to rotate back to its original position before dialing the second number. Lord help us if you mis-dialed, because then you would have to hang up and start all over again...from the beginning. There were probably a lot of people back then who had the misconception of being unpopular when the truth of the matter was, they just had a lot of zeros in their phone number. Not to mention we were restricted to a 3 ft. radius because the phone was actually attached to the wall! My parents also gave up their land line. That was actually a sad day for me. I had had that phone number since I was able to dial and only had to dial the last four digits. I couldn't tell you today what my mom's phone number is. She's just "Mom" on my cell.

TVs can record without VCRs (not that I ever mastered that before they disappeared) and Sponge Bob is available any time of day or night. Kaiden can find free games (all educational I assure you) on the computer without my assistance.

Commercials are full of every electronic gadget, thing-a-ma-jig and remotely controlled toy a boy could ever want. The boys "want" everything they see. After several of these flashy advertisements, and with Kamrin saying, "My want that," after each one, I encouraged him to save up his money so he could pay for it himself. As I was stepping out of the room, I saw Kaiden cup his hand to Kamrin's ear, "You don't have to save your money, you just have to ask Santa Claus."

During our Thanksgiving visit, Papa put an image of a crackling fire on the big screen TV. No sound, no heat, and yet Kamrin grabs Grammie's hand and says, "Come sit with me by the fire, Grammie." And he did. He just sat there staring at it.

Really, I'm not complaining. After all, without technology, I wouldn't be sharing this. My classmates from high school would have just faded away, but now I can read what they are doing every minute of every day whether I want to know or not. I see pictures of their kids online, read what the weather is doing and how much they hate / love their jobs instantly. My boys get to actually see Grammie and Papa when we use the computer and web cam to visit.

I think I got a glimpse of how much technology has become a part of our lives when I saw Grammie and Kamrin, holding hands under a blanket and keeping "warm" in front of the cyber fire and right next to them, Kaiden was snuggled up against Papa, reading "Peter Cottontail," the e-book, which Papa had downloaded especially for them to read on Papa's Kindle™. I guess boys never outgrow their need for toys.

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