My husband, Bry, and I always wanted my kids to feel their opinion mattered, even if we didn’t agree with it. Sometimes this backfired—at one point we referred to them as the Lawyers—but most of the time it gave us a new perspective.
Perspective is relative, but when it comes to actual relatives, perspective can be strange. Once, as a thank you gift for watching our dog, we gave my in-laws a bright orange neck pillow with a built-in massager. It was a perfect present because they travel a lot. The following Sunday my father-in-law greeted each grandchild with, “Hey, check out my new vibrator!”
He wasn’t using the word in the urban vocabulary sense. He was referring to the fact that it vibrated at a touch of a button. See, perspective.
My in-laws have since bought another massaging device commercially called the Jigglin’ George: One must lay flat facing upwards on a table. On the opposite table end, a raised cradle-type apparatus is used for feet to be set on. When the power button is on the cradle begins rocking side-to-side resembling a dog ripping apart a stuffed animal. The purpose is to stimulate blood circulation, check it out on YouTube.
As a Christmas gift, my in-laws bought me a back massager that lines the back of almost any chair. I’ve nicknamed it the Gyrating Jenny (but don’t try looking this up on YouTube—you’ll find something totally different). See, a sarcastic perspective!
Recently, on Good Morning America, a new device was introduced where parents can monitor everything their teenaged driver does while behind the wheel. A report is sent to the parent revealing how often their child sped, hit the brakes, how they parked, and had a way of keeping the radio volume at a particular decimal level at all times. It’s marketed as a way to give relief to any worried parent while their child is driving. My question is why on Earth would anyone want to know that?
Isn’t it better not to know sometimes? Aren’t we all a little happier when we don’t know every minuscule detail of how our kids got from point A to point B as long as they didn’t get a speeding ticket and didn’t plow over anybody crossing the street along the way?
Another appalling little device comes from Xfinity (cable). It’s a way in which one person can control all the Wi-Fi devices in the house. Picture this: A family sitting down to dinner, and everyone is busy on a cell phone. The mother is just about to join them when she tells the voice over guy to wait, whips out her phone and presses a button where all the phones are paused. She then sits and asks everybody how their day was.
At this point, the audience is supposed to say, thanks, Xfinity! You saved our family once again! We talk at the dinner table, and we couldn’t have done it without you, Xfinity. Yeah, yikes!
My issue with either device (the car one or the phone one) is that our kids can’t make a decision for themselves. Where are they going to learn that actions have consequences (and just-because-I-say-so doesn’t count as a consequence)? How do they learn when to put the phone down?
Bry and I struggle with the phone thing—our fifteen-year-old son wants to sleep with his cell phone. At any given time, his phone buzzes no less than fifty times in thirty minutes. I’m not kidding. Even when the phone is on silent, it still vibrates.
How can he get a good night’s sleep with that in his ear? He can’t. At night we make him bring it up and plug it in on the kitchen cabinet. Usually, he’s good about doing so. Sometimes he sneaks back up and takes it downstairs with him. We know that’s bound to happen. The consequence is he gets in trouble (at least a talking to by us), plus he’s grumpy and tired the next day. Not my favorite outcome, however, he’s learning the consequences of his actions.
I asked my nineteen-year-old daughter about the newest car device. She was offended and furious about it. She feels as if parents are treating their children like criminals in case they will commit a crime, not that they have already committed a crime. See, total lawyer potential, right? I think she’s right about that.
The point of this post is that every newest fandangle device, whether or not we want them to, will affect someone and it’s important to discuss them with said affected. We also need to understand how the device is perceived and if we can accept the consequences that come with each.
As secondary advice, be careful with which words you use to describe said devices, and for the love of Mike—know what you’re saying before you’re running at your grandkids waving your vibrator at them!