You know that conversation our generation is always having about the impact our overly blackberried lives will have on our kids? Well, I got this research straight in from the field that I thought I’d share with some of you. Today, my six-year-old, Zack, comes home from kindergarten with an invitation to his friend’s birthday party at McDonalds, in three weeks. So I figure I’ll quickly square this away with him and send the kid’s mother an early RSVP so we can cross this off our checklists and move on. I ask him, of course, if he wants to go, assuming it’s a rhetorical question (I mean, it is McDonalds and he did spend the whole of last year crying at all the birthdays his older brother was invited to), but, you know, I’m a good modern Mom who communicates with her children and gives them choices, so I ask him. “Eh,” he says, and shrugs. “Why don’t you want to go?” I ask him, intrigued enough now to have stopped clearing the dishes and watch him with curiosity.
“I don’t know,” he replies, shrugging again under what I now realize is a very nonchalant slouch … for a six-year-old. “I might need to play with my brother that day.” Here the teacher in me kicks back in. I figure, I know what’s going on. It’s his underdeveloped concept of time that’s at play, so I set out to explain things to my little progeny, “Well, you know Zack, the party’s a long time from now, three weeks, and you’ll have plenty of time to play with Sebastian before then … and even that weekend, the party only lasts two hours. You guys’ll have lots of other time to play.”
That’s when Seb. pipes in, looking up from his homework, “No, I can’t. I have a meeting that day.”
A meeting! I catch my head halfway through I highly condescending rolling motion and pause to regain control of my non-verbals. Seb’s expression is clearly demanding that he be taken seriously in this. A deep breath and I’m ready to resume conversation with an even tone.
“What kind of meeting honey?”
“With Philip,” he replies coolly, turning back to his work as if to say this conversation is now over. Now, if this were my former boss at work, this would be the cue to leave and close the door behind me. But wait a minute! This kid’s eight, and I’m the boss in this house! Right?
“Oh,” I reply … my pitch a little too high, revealing my over-eagerness to hide all judgment. “So, what are you meeting about?”
“We have an appointment to dig for worms. This Saturday and the one after. I’m not even going to watch cartoons.”
You know, it wasn’t that long ago that I was complaining to myself about how these kids had no concept of time … about how they would drag their feet over cleaning up their rooms and then whine about not having enough time to play. Not that long either since I last yelled at them for not moving fast enough to get ready in the morning because “when Mommy says she has a 9 a.m. appointment it means she has to leave at 8:30 no matter what!”
And here the pendulum comes swinging back. The weight of worm digging obligations three weeks hence eating into fantasies about Saturday morning cartoons. A six-year-old declining a rare birthday invitation, to McDonalds, no less, to make sure he has enough time to play with his brother.
You know that conversation our generation is always having about the impact our overly blackberried lives will have on our kids?