I don’t usually spend a lot of time comparing the differences in my children’s childhoods to mine own. I feel I can pride myself on being a fairly progressive mother. My parents were too. Neighborhood kids collected around my dad as he showed off Kodak’s newest photographic gadget and he was very excited about the upcoming computer age. My mom has spent some significant time on senior singles web sites and is a pro at playing computer solitaire. I still call her for refresher on Excel functions. But really – I have a blog, an Etsy shop, an interior design web site, a Facebook page (and both of my college kids “friended” me), I have had the same email address for over 10 years and I can video chat with my daughter. I am a firm believer that progress is great and vastly improves our quality of life.
A few weeks ago I made the decision to let my younger kids buy Nintendo DS’s with their own Christmas and birthday money. (Anything they can do autonomously and in one place – can’t be too bad.) Shortly after the purchases, the kids each had a friend over. The friends brought their DS’s. Generally - adding two kids to my two kids means I can plan on an appropriate volume increase. That day it was oddly silent so I had to creep upstairs to investigate. The girls were shoulder to shoulder on their bellies with their DS games open – Pictochatting – with the boys who were in the other room – sprawled toe to toe. (They’re guys.) For those of you who don’t know, Pictochat is a DS function that is like short wave texting but written with a stylus on a screen. Unlike texting, this can only be done with another DS that is within 65 feet. It seemed pointless to me when my kids sat across the dining room table Pictochatting with each other, explaining its finer points to me. But then I remembered what we were all excited to be the first kids in the neighborhood to have.
Some things remain the same – kind of. A day playing in the snow with the girl next door requires different equipment these days, (the Red Ryder sleds pictured are actually decorations now) , but it still takes about 20 minutes worth of preparation to get out of the door and the result tends to be similar to what I remember. (Except that this snowman’s face came from the neighbor’s prefabricated kit-in-a-bucket.)
Recently, I was forced to marvel at some of the more significant differences in how we now need to communicate with our savvy kids when my 8 year old was diagnosed with ADHD. Both his doctor and I tried our best to explain it to him while in her office but I could tell from his face that he didn’t quite get it. My son knows about ADD so I tried to explain the differences. A look of revelation came upon his face. “So you mean,” he said, “that I have ADD but it’s in HD!?” Exactly.