“Was The Wheel Invented When You Were Born?”

December 15, 2008

phoneHave you ever tried to explain something to someone that you felt was pretty self evident but it just wasn’t getting across? Where you were positive you were explaining it clearly, but they clearly weren’t getting it?  No?  Try describing a rotary dial phone to two girls under the age of nine.

It started with a question that really threw me off balance:

“Daddy, was there television when you were little?”

I regarded them sourly.  They had to be kidding.  I mean I know I’m old enough to be their father (ok, I AM their father) but still.  Television?

“Yes, of course there was,” I answered not a little defensively.  But then I started thinking.  Was it really the same?  Their childhood experience of television is a flat screen on a wall, a billion channels in full color (some in hi definition) and you change the channel by pushing a button on the remote in your hand.  About as similar to our Admiral black and white set (biiiig box on a rolling table, seven channels, horrible reception that only improved when one of us stood next to it and held the antenna, needed to be unplugged to be turned off, and required a visit to the set to change the channel) as a cheetah is to a housecat…same species, sure, but hardly the same thing.

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The Day I Officially Became “Stupidest Dad On Earth (And Possibly The Universe)”

December 8, 2008

texting1It happened all at once.  Up until that horrible moment, I thought I was  doing ok as a dad  – fun enough, disciplinarian enough, occasional flashes of parenting brilliance (like taking Ari and his friends for a paintball birthday party), cool enough to talk to about where babies come from – in short, not someone 11 year old Ari would feel the need to call Social Services about.  Then it all came crashing down.  In one conversation.  And I walked right into it.

There had been a big confrontation brewing over Ari’s not having a cell phone of his own.  He was 11, and Karen and I decided he was too young and didn’t need one yet.  For the most part, he accepted this indignity with more or less (mostly less) equanimity, and while there had been many “discussions”, there had been no major explosion.

Then one night, the argument began again, only this time something was different.  He was agitated, angry, and clearly ready for a brawl.   I took a deep breath and waded in.  For the better part of the next 20 minutes, I held my own.  And then …

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