Tag Archives: technology

My Favourite Thing

It’s a nuisance. A distraction. A menace on the roads. A depressing sign of the times.

It’s also my window to the rest of the world. A handful of technological wonder in an otherwise menial and isolated day. A life, and sanity, saver.

Yes. I’m that mom. Smartphone never out of reach. The ubiquitous 5th child in my already busy brood. One more to keep track of, keep safe, keep an eye on at all times.

I’m not blind to the downsides of this strange love affair. I’ve debated each point ad nauseam, with the critic in my head. I can get downright philosophical about it.

Since humanity first harnessed the power of fire, split the atom and pioneered the worldwide web, we’ve shown an incredible capacity to use our fancy new tools for both good and evil. It’s in our nature. It’s in my nature.

This is Mommy’s security blanket. The smooth contours nestled perfectly in the palm of my hand. A solid, sure weight in a tumultuous world. A little piece of control safe in my pocket, in the place of honour at the top of my purse… if all else fails, tucked under a bra strap next to my skin, inches from my heart.iphone pocket

In the course of a day it is my trusted advisor, personal assistant, teacher, counsellor, biographer, court jester, emergency response system, flashlight, calculator, alarm clock and immediate connection to friends, family, help, encouragement, entertainment, poetry, news and much-needed-perspective.

Sometimes, it’s a hero. When our son choked on a cookie this weekend, it was my iPhone that I turned to; typing “foreign object aspiration” into the search engine to find out what to do now. I had weather forecasts, road conditions and a friendly GPS voice on hand to help me around heavy snowfall and road closures on the way to the ER. It kept an anxious Daddy and sisters in the loop, worried friends apprised of the situation and a miserable, scared little boy distracted with games and movie clips. I can’t imagine living through that day without it.

But, it can be overwhelming, so much information and connection hovering in the background. Reluctantly I pry my fingers off my friend from time to time. Pull the curtain. Focus on the here and now. Find silence and solitude again.

Until life and family intervene. The punishing momentum of needs and routines and our very own brand of chaos. A world within a world.

So I reach for Mommy’s best helper. 4.9 ounces of synthetic comfort for the modern woman.

This is my favourite thing.

So here’s my entry for the
Word Press Weekly Writing Challenge: Object.


The Ultimate Punishment

I passed a group doing community service near their “Correctional Services” van yesterday. Not exactly a chain gang, but they didn’t look all that thrilled to be picking garbage in bright orange vests. I’m sure there is some value in the task; after all, picking up toys and clothing is considered a Very. Terrible. Task. in our house. Coupled with tacky fashion options… yes, this would be punishment indeed.

I realize I spend a lot of my blogging capital on moaning and b… complaining. I apologize, but you’ll have to give this one to me, because there is nothing, NOTHING that can compete with the sheer pain and frustration of the task that has sucked my day away.

I spent the afternoon trying to print out my cousin’s wedding invitations.

I was excited about it. I got it all set up. They look really great. All 10 of them. The ones that actually worked. Only, she wanted to invite more than just 10 people, it turns out. So… I have to figure out how to get the stupid printer with the stupid ink cartridge and the stupid paper tray to do WHAT IT IS SUPPOSED TO DO!

I am convinced that setting delinquents up with a line up of clunky old desktops, past-their-prime ink jet printers and a list of crucial printing tasks would be a far more powerful deterrent than any amount of neighbourhood clean-up. Is there anything more frustrating? Anything?

When everything works tickety boo, technology is a gift. The other 93% of the time, it is the bane of my existence.

This is the part where I usually add some pithy, transcendent moral about life or God or the beauty of the universe. Not today. We have friends coming over soon and I am going to eat muffins and pretend that none of this ever happened. Tomorrow is a new day. And Staples is only a short drive away.

So here’s me, formulating plan B. Yellow post-it notes, red crayon and the words: “Wedding. Be there.” I think it has a certain charm.

What other creative punishments is the modern correctional system overlooking?

To iPod or Not To iPod

…that is the question!

Yesterday I came home to find my eldest offspring not only loading the dishwasher, but wiping the counters after cleaning the entire kitchen. She told me she was in there anyway doing her chores, so she might as well pitch in. There was hugging, possibly tears. I congratulated her on her consideration and responsible attitude. I congratulated myself on my kick-ass parenting skills.

Later that evening, she sat down primly and asked to speak with me. “I was hoping I could have some clarification on the iPod issue.” That is a direct quote. I have to give her props for waiting a while after the cleaning and for her oh-so-professional delivery. Also the repeated use of the word “responsible” in her subsequent speech.

In summary, “Can I get an iPod Touch please? I will save up my money and pay for it myself. I know you said you would discuss it with Dad, but it has been 13 hours since I last asked and a lot of things have changed since then. For instance, I am now very ‘considerate and responsible’ (this is my paraphrase). Please see the exhaustive list of reasons I have written on the blackboard explaining what a good idea this is.”

Can I please get an iPod Touch?

It is the only question that matters to our 9 and 11-year-old this week. Two of their best friends have them. Apparently so do “like, EVERYONE I know Mom.” Which I sincerely doubt – I know one family that doesn’t even have a home computer or *gasp* email. Technophobes aside, this is an issue for us already, no matter how much I want to pretend otherwise.

I think back fondly on the good old days when times were simpler. Community was face-to-face: “Gather round kinfolk, it’s time for ye old hymn sing.” And problems were straightforward. “Pa, them coons done et all our muffins agin. Git the shotgun!”

“Ma, Old Yeller’s done got bit by a rabid coon! NOOOOOOOO!”

Okay, so even pioneer days weren’t a fantasy of perfection. Life isn’t Little House on the Prairie, for which my husband is infintely grateful. Especially after an entire chapter about making candles and two on maple syrup.

I blame myself.

As I sit here writing my blog on my laptop, with my iPhone close at hand, I am keenly aware of why my children are geared toward technology. And I can’t blame them.

For those who do not have their very own walking catalogue of features to sing its praises, the iPod Touch is not a phone. It is everything else.

This weekend, they used their friends’ iPods to make an adorable movie (complete with soundtrack), take pictures, listen to christian music, play games (some educational, some silly), email a friend, and watch stupid animal movies on youtube.

Nothing evil, nothing scary – except for, maybe, the youtube videos. That talking dog is creepy.

We have a lot to discuss. Can net nanny be put on an iPod? Can we turn off the texting function? Or all internet? Are we ready for them to have their own e-mail address (with copies of everything sent to us)? How much screen time is too much? How closely should we moniter it? How long will it take them to save up the money? What if they start making talking dog videos?

Insert answer here.

I left space here for the thoughtful, balanced, wise answer. But I don’t have one. For now the answer is no, but I’m not completely against it. Perhaps I should let them know the cleaning helped?

We’ve talked to a number of other parents we respect and their advice ranges from:

“Yes, this is a reasonable purchase for your pre-teen. With the appropriate boundaries and monitering it can be a useful tool. Earning the money themselves will be a good experience. Plus, they will stop fighting over your iPhone (okay, that last part is from me).”


“Are you kidding me? Useful for training as obese couch potatoes and cyber bully fodder. Buy them a candle making kit instead. And the box set of Little House on the Prairie while you’re at it.”

And both sides sound reasonable to me. I’m not sure…

So here’s me, flummoxed.

What do you think? We respect every parent’s right to decide this for their own children, so use your nice words. Should children be allowed personal technology? What kind and at what ages?

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