Something weird happened in the women’s bathroom at work the other day. I was washing my hands– which isn’t weird, it’s per the board of health– and a woman came in with her two kids. One was a girl too small to use the toilet, and the other was a boy too small to be left in the hallway while his mom changed his little sister. His mom went into the stall with the little one, and he stood next to the garbage can, shifting his weight timidly from one Lightening McQueen sneaker to the other.
This, too, was not the weird part. When he took an iPhone out of his sweatshirt pocket and started playing a racecar game on it’s three-inch LCD screen, that was the weird part.
I was glad his mother hadn’t finished changing her little girl in time to see the look of incredulity on my face. Of course, changing your daughter’s diaper can be a little more involved when you also have to make sure her belly-button piercing isn’t infected, and that her ankle tattoo is healing nicely.
It’s not that parents are letting their kids grow up too fast, it’s which parts of their kids they’re allowing to “mature” so quickly. Buying your twelve-year-old daughter makeup isn’t necessarily crazy, unless you still don’t allow that daughter to operate the stove on her own. That girl will grow up with brilliantly-coiffed hair and absolutely no idea how to prepare a meal that isn’t frozen or canned.
Really, what kind of grown-up can we expect a seven-year-old with a iPhone to grow up to be? If he’s too young to wait in the hallway, but old enough for a cellphone, my bet is that when he graduates college, he’ll be too young for his own apartment, but old enough for a forty-two inch flat-screen in his parents’ basement.
I’m no mother. I have cats, because cats fit into my life and– aside from cleaning their litter-box– I don’t have to worry about fitting into theirs. If that woman in the bathroom wanted a pet she could distract with a toy, she really should have bought a Daschund and a rawhide bone.
This isn’t the first time I’ve gotten on a soap-box about bad parenting. Rather than relive that rant, let’s talk about some other implications of the above mentioned weird situation. Technology.
It’s a great thing. It got us to the moon, fixed my mom’s spine, globalized the Tahiri Square riots in a matter of days and allowed me to watch two entire seasons of Grey’s Anatomy in an afternoon. But people are pretty great, too. They steered Apollo 11 through the atmosphere, the scalpel into Mom’s spine and YouTube into international interest.
Lest we forget, people actually invented technology. Not discovered, invented. Dr. Frankenstein invented something once, and it didn’t end so well for him. If I remember correctly, it killed his wife.
There’s a lot of risk involved with bringing something into the world. A monster, a computer, a little baby boy, they’re all bound to get away from you. There’s a funny thing called personal responsibility which seems to exists only on Oprah. In the real world, Angry Birds is a better babysitter than the neighbor’s daughter and a board game.
The most dangerous part of the technological takeover is the inevitability of its total saturation. I can gallop along on my high-horse about the socially stunting effects of allowing your ten-year-old to replace play-dates with Facebook messenger, but being the weird kid in the fifth-grade who isn’t allowed to socially network won’t exactly get you elected prom king.
So, future? It looks like you and I are at am impasse.