My husband is always telling me I should buy myself a few nice things – like designer sunglasses or a snazzy smart-phone. “Just take care of them and keep them away from the kids,” my husband says. I just roll my eyes like I always do when he says something completely ridiculous.
I have to admit, though, when my husband starting dropping hints that he was getting me an iPad, I started getting excited. When I opened the iPad on the eve of my 33rd birthday, after the kids were all tucked in bed, my husband said, “This gift is for you. Don’t let the kids use it.”
I started to roll my eyes instinctively but then stopped mid-roll said, “Okay, I’ll try.”
Every morning, I hid the iPad high on a shelf and ran to retrieve it the second my kids went down for their nap. I surfed with lightening speed, dominated Words With Friends, and Temple Run like I’ve never run before.
As soon as I heard the pitter-patter of little feet coming down the stairs, I shoved the iPad back on the shelf and pretended like it didn’t exist for the rest of the day. This went on for a few weeks.
But then, one day, when I was in the middle of a record-setting, heart-racing temple run, I was startled by a little voice from across the room.
“WHAT is that?!?!” My 5 year-old daughter, Josie, screamed like she had just discovered a roller coaster in her backyard. “Did we get an iPad?”
I just stared at her. The loud “thud” of my temple runner banging his head into a giant tree trunk broke the silence.
“I got it for my birthday,” I said. I guess honesty was the best policy. ”You can use it too if you sit by me and are very, very careful.” I caved.
“Your dad is going to kill me,” I said under my breath as Josie snuggled up against me and took my iPad. It was the beginning of the end.
At first, I was frustrated by how much my kids wanted to use the iPad. But eventually, I realized that iPad is a great educational tool. My kids love the ABC writing app and love doing math with Team Umizoomi.
The iPad is also a great parenting tool. My kids know that if they eat all their dinner, clear their plates and behave during bath then they can each play with the iPad before bedtime. It’s really the gift that keeps giving.
“See, sharing the iPad isn’t such a bad thing,” I said to my husband as my children drifted to sleep peacefully while visions of new apps downloaded in their heads. My husband just rolled his eyes and said, “we’ll see.”
A few weeks later, when I was at home with my 4 year-old son, Owen, and my 8 month-old daughter, Emily, I ran upstairs to do some laundry while Owen played Angry Birds and Emily played in her play pen.
As soon as I got to the top of the stairs, Emily started crying. “Owen,” I called down to Emily’s older brother, “can you give Emily a toy so she stops crying?” I pleaded.
“Oh yeah, sure,” he said. I heard Owen jump from the couch and a few seconds later, Emily stopped crying.
“I did it!” Owen screamed with excitement.
“Awesome, dude!” I called down.
I walked towards the dryer, got the clothes out and started to fold. I managed to fold the entire load without so much as a peep from Emily. Amazing, I thought.
Upon arriving back downstairs, I saw Emily sitting in her playpen and sucking on the iPad.
“Owen!” I screamed and ran over to my very happy baby to retrieve my very wet iPad.
“Hey, she likes it,” Owen said as Emily started to fuss.
“Yes, but it’s not a pacifier,” I said as I took the iPad and put it back on the shelf for the rest of the day.
I guess even I have my limits, I thought. I gave Emily a busy box and showed her how to pop up the animals from each box. Then, I pulled out Candy Land from the closet and hoped Owen remembered how to play a game that didn’t involve a touch screen.