It’s pretty easy if you’re not a parent to find yourself wondering if allowing kids to be on iPads all the time is really a good thing. I mean I get it shuts them up or distracts them when Mum and Dad need a break but I do miss seeing actual books in front of kids.
But I did say that was if you weren’t a parent. I have never had to truly try and endure a long car road with the harmonious sound of “Are we there yet?” or “I’m bored.” I also get that if it weren’t for the iPad, I may have to wait a decade to enjoy a meal at a nice café with most of my friends.
Some married friends of mine were visiting from Sydney and suggested we catch up at 9am one morning, as this was apparently an almost do-able, reasonably risk-free time in relationship to their baby.
Hardly the expert but I guessed it was bang in the middle of already up but not yet turning feral because we should be going back down again kind of time.
Anyway, they got there, with their ridiculously cute child who seemed thankfully bemused at her new surroundings as they arrived although Mum and Dad didn’t look quite as relaxed.
“Get her stuff out quickly!” my friend urged her husband.
Now propped up in front of our new child, was the most important item amongst the pile of paraphanalia and the modern day best friend of many parents, the iPad.
Rattling on faster than normal as I sensed we might be on borrowed time, I recalled the news on my side since we’d last spoken until I couldn’t help but wonder what on earth our little one was laughing so much about.
I don’t confess to being up to speed on kids viewing but I also don’t remember Baby Einsten or the Tellytubbies ever a side splitter either?
“What is she watching?” I enquired curiously. “She’s watching us, she loves it.” Now I was totally confused as it was clear she was not watching us, there was something on her screen that was cracking her up. I hoicked my head around to see what was up and sure enough, there was Mum on-screen doing the old peek-aboo behind a tissue routine, over and over again.
This was not the only video they had programmed in to the iPad for those moments when they couldn’t be performing in real time but still need to amuse their child. There was one Mum pushing our little girl on a swing and Christmas with the Grandparents too. Genius I thought. Why should Dr Seuss get all the kudos?
And then it hit me; if only my mother had been in the iPad generation I might have had more success in love. Somewhere in my tween era I distinctly remember being at a bar in the late 70’s, early 80’s around lunchtime, which often ran into early evening, while my mother and her friends enjoyed the day. Not having iPads back then it was up to us kids to amuse ourselves beyond bags Salt’n’Vinegar chips and pots of Shirley Temples.
But I also remember, in those hours that I could have had an iPad distracting me, by default I developed an obsession with watching people, which is where a lot of my perceptions of the world and of couples began to form.
Given there was alcohol involved, I would notice that people just started to behave mysteriously in a way I didn’t think they should with each other. There was just a vibe that made me think, “Wow, married people are weird. I don’t want to be that.”
So I’ve since warmed to seeing kids on their iPads when they’re out and about. Although sadly for them, they will never know the joys of colouring in wads of doilies with a pack of brand spanking new texta’s. Or the pleasure of seeing grown ups carry on like tired old twits.