In my secondary blog, Just Another Writing Blog, I wrote about how I put together an article. I begin with a paragraph by paragraph outline and expand. The piece below is how it’s turned out. There have been some changes along the way, but that’s only to be expected. Hope you enjoy it. I worked hard on this piece and would prefer a comment to a like (although one of each is okay too 🙂 )
I watched with mixed feelings as my three-year old grandson navigated through his mother’s iPhone. His nimble fingers found the appropriate icon, then stopped to deftly flick through the family photos. I was proud of this feat of legerdemain but when I got over my amazement I felt depressed. Bob Dylan’s ‘The Times they are a Changing’ as relevant now as it was the day Dylan first wrote it ran round in my head. I had thought, wrongly as it turns out, that I might have a bit of time before finding myself obsolete. There was Eden, a child of our rapidly changing electronic highway moving beyond me and I was left wondering what I could possibly teach him that would be of value.
I am several models behind the rest of the electronic world. I have a mobile phone but not an iPhone, a laptop and e-reader but not a notepad. And please don’t ask me what an Android is unless we’re talking Star Trek. When I came out of my reverie, I realised that what most of today’s shiny new gadgets have in common is communication with the frills. Despite the constant chatter and twitter, the more we use those gadgets, the less we seem to have to say to each other that is meaningful. But that’s progress, gain on the roundabouts, lose on the swings. I watched the gulf widening between me and my grandchild and found myself empathising with that horse and buggy grandma whose grandchildren whizzed by in their automobiles leaving her behind choking on their dust. History is littered with those grandmothers.
My one advantage over them is that I am not totally out of it. I understand the difference between electronic information and real time communication. If you can’t beat them, then join them’ is the saying. I decided to take the path less travelled and teach my grandson about activities that require human interaction.
Eden ushers me into his office and plays doctor to my patient. He whips out his sphygmometer and checks out my blood pressure then prescribes a strawberry which he happens to have handy. He decides that a rest will do me good and it possibly would have, except that another examination is in order a minute later. Eden checks my heart beat with his trusty stethoscope. He puts together a hundred piece puzzle of Winnie the Pooh and his friends. We agree that we are fond of Pooh but can’t quite get ourselves to feel the same about honey.
Eden and I play picture dominoes. We match up the numbers and the Wiggles characters on the domino tiles. Eden discusses the exploits of his hero Captain Feathersword and I try to toss in an intelligent response now and again. I haven’t met a male toddler yet who didn’t favour Captain Feathersword, or a female toddler, for that matter who wasn’t enamoured of Dorothy the Dinosaur and her roses.
Once a week we go to the library and Eden chooses books with interesting covers. I look for books with topical issues, like potty training, sharing and the role of big brothers. Reading to Eden is a stop and start affair. He asks multiple questions logical to his enquiring three year old mind; luckily for us both the answers are still easy. When we are done we place our final choices in the book bag and ‘do lunch’. Eden’s highlight is the milkshake. A fair bit of discussion ensues about the pros and cons of the various flavours, but in the end it’s strawberry unless, of course, it’s chocolate.
I’m sorting out some classic games that I’ve saved for when the occasion is right: Junior Scrabble, Junior Monopoly and Snap are some. They can’t compete with the electronic games which are easily and cheaply added to the pertinent gadget by way of an app (application). The graphics are amazing but the games are addictive. People dedicate every spare moment (on the train, on the street and at the dinner table) to bonding with their machines.
I have this memory of the Jetsons, a Space Age cartoon set in the 21st century. It debuted in 1962. The father, George, comes home from work, exhausted, from pressing buttons all day. I did laugh at the time, but in hindsight, how prophetic was it? In 1962, if I wanted to be alone with my thoughts for five uninterrupted minutes, I turned off the television, left the phone in its socket and went for a walk. Would I wish those days on Eden? Not if everybody else is moving forward. Even Playschool is preparing pre-school children for the wider world of social media. It’s not my job or even my purpose to hold Eden back. He can learn about communication from Play School and discourse from me.