The holiday season has officially begun, and with it, the assault of rapid-fire “I Wants” from my children.
I want a Wii U! I want an iPod! I want a 3DS! I want an iTouch! I want an iPad mini! I want a laptop! I want a cell phone!
I need to wear full body armor day and night, even in my own house.
You’ll notice, of course, that the I Wants are all electronics-based. Gone are the days when my kids coveted Pillow Pets or Power Rangers or friendship bracelet kits. Now, it’s all about the Apple store and Best Buy. But aside from the fact that these Wants don’t come cheap, I’m just not ready to give into them quite yet. At least, not completely.
Let me say for the record that I’m no Luddite. My kids have a Wii. They each have an old iPhone (with the phone part disabled) that they use as an iPod/iTouch for music and apps. And over the summer, before we took a trip to Europe, I caved and bought them each a Nintendo DSi to use on the long plane rides. But that’s where I draw the line. Video games and music: yes. Phones and laptops: no.
It’s not that I’m against phones and laptops, per se. I’m just against what phones and laptops enable, such as texting, Facebook, Instagram and God only knows what else that I don’t even know about. But I keep reading these articles and going to talks by “parenting experts,” and when the topic turns to technology (as it always does), the advice is always to embrace it, not fear it. The theory being that they’re going to do it all eventually, so why not do it now, when they’re young and you can have input, instead of later, when they’re teenagers and don’t give a crap about what you think? Which makes sense, I suppose.
But the thing is, I don’t fear texting or Facebook or unsupervised Internet access because of the content. I trust my kids, and I’m not worried about them being involved in cyber-bullying or looking up porn on the internet. I fear it because, right now, I still have their undivided attention, and I can still see their eyes. But I know that the minute a phone or a laptop enters the picture, they’ll disappear into texts and emails and Facebook and Instagram, and I’ll never see anything but the tops of their heads ever again.
It all reminds me of when my daughter was a toddler, and I took her to a weekly mommy and me class with a well-respected parenting guru. I’d been trying to feed her nothing but vegetables and chicken breast and other healthy foods, with very little luck.
When I asked the guru what to do, she said that I should just give my daughter chicken tenders and French fries and mac and cheese, because it’s what toddlers like, and she would discover it all eventually anyway. Better that she get it early, when it’s one of many different kinds of foods, rather than later, when she’ll think of it as taboo food that she’ll only obsess about.
I remember feeling that the argument made sense – I didn’t want my daughter to have an eating disorder because I deprived her of chicken tenders and fries as a toddler – but it didn’t sound quite right to me, either. But I was young and insecure in my parenting skills, so I took her advice. And now I have a ten year-old who won’t eat anything but chicken tenders and French fries and mac and cheese.
The point is, I’m not falling for that trick again. I understand the argument that the experts make, but just because they’re experts doesn’t mean I have to listen to it. I’m well aware of the fact that my kids will eventually fall into the time suck that phones and laptops bring, but I don’t see any need to rush it. I’m keeping my body armor on this holiday season, and the I Wants will just have to wait.