August 6, 2007
I’m Reading Your
Words, But I’m Seeing My Little Boy
I read everything.
Always have. I remember one specific road trip from Ohio to Texas to
visit my grandparents when I was six. I’d just gotten really good at
reading, and decided – the entire way there – to read every sign,
license plate and billboard I could.
I think we got all
the way to Arkansas before my poor dad, insanely tired from hearing
“rest stop ahead,” and “JUV-873” finally yelled at me to stop. What a
Today, the habit’s
still there. I happened to read in a training manual (I read the whole
manual. The instructor was – indeed – that boring!) that 75 percent of
automobile buyers now come into car dealerships with informational
printouts. Effectively, the salesman is no longer of the same use to
them when it comes to knowing the basics.
When I bought my
first car, there was no Internet, and save for the knowledge of what
little I had in my bank account, I was clueless.
So, in this
particularly boring training session, my mind couldn’t help but wonder.
What effect this is going to have on my parenting? My oldest son is 13
months old. When he needs something, or has a problem, is he going to
come to me with a printout from the Internet?
“Mom, listen, I know
you think that kisses, a cool washcloth and chicken noodle soup is the
answer. But it says right here that I’m also going to require more lemon
in my water, as well as a fever-reducing agent every two hours.”
During that same
meeting, I happened to grab a stash of tea bags from the scary depths of
the bottom drawer of my desk. And right on the box, I was promised, and
I quote, to “be taken back to bedtime chats in warm woolen slippers, to
snow-laded window sills and glimpses into the golden-lit haven of family
Huh? I pondered this
bit of reading as well. First, I’m not sure one can be “taken back” to a
place in which one has never been. In reality, I suppose a cup of tea
could take me back to nights spent hiding in my attic bedroom, listening
to my trouble-making brother get yelled at, while I pretended to be
doing my homework. Rather than a golden-lit haven, our kitchen was a lot
more like mine is today.
Perhaps if my son
becomes as much a writer as a reader some day, he can write statements
like this. He can work for the cereal folks. “Let this bowl of Cheerios
take you back to five-minute breakfasts while mommy searched for
matching heels, running through the kitchen from front to back closet,
fervently reminding you how much she loves you while hopping, one shoe
finally on, towards your high chair for that last morning good-bye
I’d also like to
think that he’ll know that “snow-laden” and “golden-lit haven” don’t go
in the same sentence. At least, not in states like Michigan, where we
live, and where snow is equated with more of a grayish overcast.
I tried to re-engage
in my training, but not long later, still stuck in the same colorless
conference room, my eyes wandered to an ad in the magazine the guy next
to me was coyly reading. And it was all about the latest and greatest,
again I quote, “handheld solution.”
My thoughts arrived
again at my little son. Handheld solutions used to mean cordless phones,
like the one the size of my head that still resides in my basement.
Today, that oh-so-creative and meaningful description means something a
little smaller – iPods and such.
I can only hope that
by the time my son grows up, that phrase is still being used by
copywriters and publicity folks everywhere. Because if it’s held in his
hand, that means it hasn’t been micro-chipped into his wrist. Or
permanently scanned into his brain through his retina.
It will mean that
while sources of information and cheesy wording on food boxes will have
changed, one thing will not have changed. The information in his head
will be only what he lets in, and not what others impose on him.
Like this guy who’s
trying to train me right now, and whose knowledge I’ve willingly given
up for a few minutes to think about my baby boy while I can’t be with
Today, that’s my
version of fair trade.
© 2007 North Star Writers
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