Monthly Archives: January 2019

Maybe technology is cyclical

There are a lot of theories out there about the best way to raise children. These mostly come from people without kids, but a shocking amount of parents manage to form strong opinions about this subject too. Which they must do in-between chugging Merlot and crying in the shower, I imagine.

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I’ll admit I used to be one of those parents. With lofty ideals about proper nutrition and preschool STEM activities and basic human hygiene.

Pffft.

But that was before. Before the machine. Before…THE GAME.

Now none of it matters. Nothing matters. Nothing except…THE GAME.

Well, I mean, and my children and my husband and our collective health and world peace and our extended families and our beloved dog and protecting the environment and Jeff Goldblum because he’s a national treasure and all our friends.

But NOTHING ELSE.

It started innocently enough, like most of these scenarios that end up spiraling into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. I bought my husband one of those Nintendo Classic consoles for Christmas. You know, the ones with all the games from our childhood? PacMan. Donkey Kong. Super Mario Bros., ONE, TWO AND THREE.

And it quickly became clear once we turned it on that my family is unlikely to do anything for the next 15 years other than play Nintendo.

Like moths to a super pixelated light, my husband and I pressed our noses to the screen, that oh-so-unforgettable music filling our ears. The music of the angels, if angels sported mullets and Jordache jeans and oversized, unflattering eyeglasses.

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It was all so familiar, and yet somehow new, considering it had been close to three decades since either one of us had felt those comforting buttons beneath our fingers. Almost immediately we fell into that old trance, eyes glazed and fingers moving like lightning, murdering everything in our path with glee.

Our children, curious as to why we were refusing to feed them or take them for walks or generally acknowledging their existence in any form, eventually wandered over and were also immediately dragged under the spell of the Nintendo. All too soon, requests of “can I play next?” started pouring forth from their lips, eventually escalating into shouts of “IT’S MY TURN NOW!” Which, as their parents, we very maturely responded back “NO, IT’S STILL MY TURN!”

We haven’t cleaned in weeks. Empty pizza boxes are stacked like fortresses around our living room, with discarded juice boxes and wine bottles acting as moats around them. All of our hair has started to resemble the characters on those TV shows about Vikings.

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Sometimes, in those brief moments where I blink and remember there is a life outside of rescuing the princess, I wonder if I should be worried about what kind of damage this is doing to us. Especially the kids. Everyone is always yelling about the importance of limiting screen time and how video games are bad for developing brains and that Cheetos apparently don’t contain all the nutrients a body needs.  

But then, happily, it’s my turn again and those silly thoughts shoot right out of my head with the speed of a jumped-upon turtle shell in Super Mario Bros.

Besides, I choose to think of this whole thing as more like how families of yore used to sit around the fireplace, reading classic literature out loud to each other and bonding or whatever. Only instead of a fire we have a magic box that makes little Italian men run and jump and squish evil mushrooms sporting heavy eyebrows. And is there truly any more of a bonding experience than witnessing your 2-year-old finally learning how to run AND jump at the same time as opposed to just walking into a wall for eight minutes straight? I mean…

There is only one thing truly missing from my life right now. So if someone could just leave Doritos and Jolt Cola on my front porch, I’d really appreciate it.  

 

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No one told me there’d be a quiz

I had big plans this winter, guys. BIG PLANS. I was finally going to give in and jump on the hygge bandwagon. That Norwegian…or is it Danish?…Swedish? practice of making everything super cozy and charming. And you know what, it doesn’t even matter the origin because I planned on practicing a super-Americanized version of it where I spend the next three months in stained thermal leggings under three dog-fur covered blankets, dutifully ignoring my children and ordering calzones from Grubhub whilst binge-watching “Elementary” on Hulu.

Oh, and, of course, a lit candle. Because the candle is the fine line that makes the whole thing cozy and charming and not a symptom of Seasonal Affective Disorder.  

But then…sigh. Then two words ruined everything.

Kindergarten. Registration.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been unfortunate enough to register a child for school. Or what is required for school registration where you live. But I barely survived getting my oldest into preschool last year because, where I live, registration requires 132 copies of random documents that you haven’t the foggiest of how to get your hands on. Oh, you mean don’t have a notarized copy of your rent agreement signed by your son’s pediatrician and your electric company? Well, ma’am, we really need those before he can attend. And also receipts from every time you bought diapers for your child. In triplicate.

Then there were the 27 forms just for emergency contacts. Everyone I know is now my son’s emergency contact. Even you. Yeah, you, reading this right now. You are an emergency contact.

And that was just preschool. The JV squad. It doesn’t even count. Kindergarten is the big leagues.

That’s the thing no one warns you about when you’re thinking about having kids. You will spend approximately 40 percent of your post-children life filling out forms. All the forms. There are so many forms. You cannot escape the forms.

Because it’s not just these endless school forms. Take my daughter’s first visit to the dentist. We walk in. We exchange smiles and chit-chat. And then they hand me a blank novella attached to a large clipboard with the friendly instruction to “fill it out.” Forty minutes and one cramped hand later, I realized I didn’t know anyone this well. Not even myself. Not to mention, the girl only had two teeth inside her head. She hadn’t even been alive long enough to warrant that many questions about her life.

My favorite is when they ask me for my kids’ social security number. Like, are you joking? Look buddy, no one knows their SSN until they go to college. It’s pretty much the only thing you do learn in college. And as for the actual physical copies, hahahahahaha…they’re probably in the back pocket of the maternity pants I was wearing when I gave birth. Which I burned in a ceremonial fire after deciding that two kids is enough and I’ll have more over my dead body.

Perhaps worst of all, though, is the oral form of the form. You know, when those well-meaning medical professionals verbally throw difficult questions right at your face, like “what is their date of birth?” I don’t know, man. You asked me too quick. I knew it thirty seconds ago. It was one of the cold months. Obama was still president. I mean, do you know how many things have happened between their birth and this present moment? You’re lucky I remembered to bring them with me.

No one ever wants to know the important information about my kids. Like that my son will refuse to eat reheated mac and cheese. And trust me, he KNOWS. You cannot hide the fact you reheated it. He is the Sherlock Holmes of boxed pasta. Or that my daughter will eat hamburger but only if you call it sausage, and that when she starts acting drunk you have exactly ten minutes to get her to sleep before a tantrum erupts from her body, volcano-style.

Sigh. And that, in a not-so-tiny nutshell, is why my winter is ruined. I will now be spending these forthcoming long dark nights gathering ridiculous amounts of paperwork and signing up unsuspecting friends and family as emergency contacts in order to register my child for kindergarten.

But at least I’ll still have my lit candle. Which should make my ensuing mental breakdown much more charming and cozy.