Before I begin, let me assure you that I not only have a mug that clearly states I am the #1 Dad, but at least 50% of my boxer shorts make a similar claim. Now that I have most indefinitely established myself as the foremost authority on all things children, and given the evidence of this website I believe it to be clear that I’m at least proficient to a level easily deemed “better than average” at building, using and bearing disdain for the Internet, I shall proceed.
Computers are eating your children. The average child is smaller than an adult, their brains are not yet quite as developed, and as anyone who’s ever seen a 12 year old wreck his bike into a barbed wire fence at 25 mph and not feel the need to cry until he realizes no one will wait up for him to hear his story, they are nearly invincible. My point is, that children are not real, they are simply a developing organism which will someday turn into a jumbled twine of conscious thought, buried emotions, and ever-mounting divorce papers. The only “real” thing about children is their immense propensity to spew energy and imagination, breaking all laws of science and nature by both running at 110% of capacity on 13% of the fuel and imagining the most wonderful scenarios for play, whether they’re hiking down into the Grand Canyon or sitting in the backseat of a car on a long trip to Grannie’s.
So if we are all in agreeance, and at this point I believe we are, that children are precisely made of 50% energy and 50% imagination, how can we most easily destroy them? By transforming them into an input rather than an output. Television, including that damned Big Bird, is the succubus of the 20th century, and just when you thought it was safe to sell your HD TV and move into an old station wagon to live in a Walmart parking lot, the Internet appears on the scene. High schools across these great United States are all faced with a monstrous dilemma: How to afford computers for each and every child. Technology is important, and keeping our children at the cutting edge of the latest Firefox download will ensure that we are able to survive well into an Asian dominated future, right? Correct. Even before our children can read, they’re given a username and password in the hopes that when someone does get around to teaching them the fine art of connecting verbs and nouns, penning out their thoughts and distancing themselves from the shackles of the momentary nature of thought without graphite, we’re literally signing them onto the instant access Wide Web of Worlds. I write loosely, in jest today, perhaps, because it is a lovely summer day, cool in the desert as the rain flirts between a trickle and a downpour, but I am being quite serious in undertone. NPR today reported that schools across the country are concerning themselves with how they’ll be able to afford new computers, personal laptops in fact, for each and every child that comes through their doors. One little girl had to have her teacher spell out her password for her, because she is not yet even able to read.
And what will a child who can’t read, or a teenager for that matter, do when they finally dial in? Read the Wikipedia article on the history of the collapse of the Roman Empire? Research their genealogy on Ancestry.com? Youtube a monkey getting it’s head stuck in an elephant’s ass? That’s the one.
Children are meant for but two things: doing chores that are too mundane for parents and running wildly through the forest expending all of that unbridled energy and imagination so that one day they might have some semblance of reality. And not the reality that involves house, babies, cars and jobs, and then insurance for each of those items, but the one that so few of us ever have the pleasure of realizing, the one that involves doing what makes you happy for these short 8 or so decades we have on this planet.
In short, if you’ve ever thought about how you wish you could have gone to Spain, or would have taken up knitting, or actually written that novel or tried out for that play, and you’re still wishing it, project that onto your child and then remember that you yourself were born in a time when having a Nintendo was the chief distraction, and that was only something that could be played at home. Now look in the rear view mirror as your little boy becomes part of his little Game Boy. Take a break from coffee at Grandma’s as your teenager is checking out the singles ads on Myspace from his cell phone. In Nevada, you can’t walk into a store without reaching across a gambling machine to pay the clerk. In the rest of the United States, you can’t walk ten feet without reaching across an iPhone to chat with a friend.
In summation: children, eat your parents before they let the computer that lives under your bed eat you. And that #1 Dad mug, handmade by my very own son, only moments before I allowed the very same Internet I make my living from and love to badmouth like a good boss gone drinking, eat me.