I can’t ever remember a time growing up that my parents asked me how to do anything. It was always the other way around with me asking them for help, and they always knowing how to do it. Not to take anything away from their brilliance, but things were a lot simpler back then. No iPhones, remotes, or apps. The television, stereo, and lights had one switch/2 options: on or off. So it was simple and didn’t require a password, a download, or a PDF file. I thought my father was brilliant simply because he could switch the sound in the stereo from one speaker to another. Your parents were supposed to be smarter than you.
Today, my house and my life come to a grinding halt if I can’t get in touch with one of my kids. It’s complete role-reversal with them being brilliant and me not so much. They are being the all-knowing parent, me the naive child.
I don’t enjoy feeing simple-minded around my kids. Everything is complicated AND it’s all connected which makes it even worse. My DVD is connected through the Xbox which is connected to the television. This means that if I want to watch a movie I need one of them to turn the TV on for me.
Sometimes, when I’m home alone I sit in a dark room hoping if I concentrate hard enough the television will turn on by itself. Friends are impressed by how many books I read, but really, if I could get the TV to turn on I wouldn’t read that many books.
The lights in the family room come with a programmable remote control. It’s called “SmartHome” and it’s a multi-room lighting control kit. Once again, you need an engineer’s degree to complete the simple task of turning the lights on. The kit includes an eight button keypad. The instructions say, “plug into an outlet and connect to your router which can then be accessed from any web-enabled device.” ARE THEY KIDDING ME? I JUST WANT TO TURN A LIGHT ON AND I DON’T WANT TO ASK MY KIDS HOW TO DO IT.
I want a remote called “SmartMom” which could make me, well…smart.
My kids are very patient with helping me. Their generation was all born “on the grid”. Their first word spoken was probably “synch,” and they can complete any task involving electronics and technology at such lightening speed that it doesn’t pay to follow or try to learn myself. By the time it takes me to find my glasses they have already downloaded, uploaded, liked it on Facebook and hooked me up with some cloud that I’m still trying to get a handle on.
Even trying to impress them with apps on my phone backfires. “I have Pandora” I tell them. Only to be told that Spotify and Tunein Radio are far superior to my hokey little Pandora app. “Yeah, well I downloaded the Torch app and now I have a flashlight on my phone… So there!” They are speechless.
“And furthermore, we were allowed to play tag even though not everyone could be “it”, and not everyone got a trophy but we still felt good about ourselves, and we could make eye contact and HAVE A CONVERSATION with another person without texting!” Now they are looking at me like I have lost my mind, but I don’t care. I’m tired of feeling inadequate. I want to feel like my parents got to feel….superior, omniscient, and brilliant.
My daughter recently got an iPhone 5. We were standing in line at the mall and she said, “I can’t figure out how to post a picture to Facebook from this phone.” I literally ran someone over to help her. Imagine…me helping her! “LET… ME… SHOW…YOU…HOW… TO…USE…YOUR… iPhone,” I practically screamed so that all could hear and be totally amazed by me, a mere grown-up helping a child with something electronic. And so it came to pass that I did help her. To add to my new feeling of superiority, the young cashier said he had never seen it happen before and was truly impressed. Feeling pretty cocky I told him that I even had the torch app and could use my phone as a flashlight…and then I lost him. But for a brief period, I was brilliant and it felt amazing.
After leaving the mall I tried to get into my car and realized I couldn’t find my keys. I was practically in a panic trying to think on which counter I had left them. It was then that I noticed my daughter with a smile on her face that seemed to be growing. Slowly she pulled my keys out from one pocket, and then my reading glasses from her other pocket. “…Just so you don’t think you know it all” she said.