Tag Archives: Rage

Electronic Babysitter

The future is a strange and wonderful place and I love living here.

I gotta say, though, dudes, I’m sort of glad that I’ve already done my child rearing and did it a bit earlier when there wasn’t all this futuretech around to tempt me and the little dudes.

This subject came to occupy a bit too much of my brain lately when I started noticing a bunch of commercials and suchlike designed to sell parents on the idea of either loaning a tablet to a little dude or buying one for her to have all her own dudette self.

Let me get one thing out of the way first. I am no Luddite. I don’t automatically reject new technology as dangerous or evil. I’m not the type to say that the way we did it when I was a kid was good enough and that’s the way it should always be done. I mean, if you’ve been around here more than 17 seconds or so, I’m pretty sure you’ll understand when I say I’m a technological neophile of the first order.

(Admittedly, I’m not a neophile across the board, as my wife, known to me as She Who Must Be Frustrated That I’m Not Willing To Paint Over The Appalling Mural In Our Bathroom, will happily attest at full volume given half the chance.)

Technology here in the future is a wonderful thing. I love having my smart phone. I love having my iPad mini and all the rest of the little tech goodies I carry around each day or lust for in my heart.

But little dudes, though. . . That’s a tough one. I mean, when Sarcasmo and Zippy the Monkey Boy were very young, I used to alternate weekend days to get up early with them. (Sadly, Sarcasmo was the type to awaken at zerosixhundred no matter how late he went to bed.) Both their mom and I would stagger into the boys’ room, get them out of bed, feed them and then pop in a Winnie the Pooh video, drop to the couch and pass right out for as long as they’d let us.

And that was when there was nothing interactive to hold the interest of the little dudes. These days, there’s slates that will talk back to the kids, encourage them, call them by name. I can see how this could be very difficult to put down. I also can see how a lot of parents would find it so much easier to simply hand over a slate to their kid and let ’em rip, giving the parent more time to 1) sleep or 2) work.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has already issued warnings that young dudes and dudettes shouldn’t have very much screen time, especially when they’re in the deuce and under crowd.

The problem as I see it is that these tablets are so darn convenient. The little dudes love them and will become immersed with the flip of a button. And there’s just enough of the good sort of app out there that many parents will feel comfortable letting their little dudette have hours and hours on the slate screen.

From personal experience, I know that — even when you keep a sharp eye on your young dudes and their computer/tablet/screen time — the determined young dude will find ways to indulge curiosity and desire. And do it for far more time than is conceivably good for him or her.

So, yeah.

Despite the convenience, despite the quiet time it gives us as parents, consider shutting down the screen. For instance, I just yesterday purchased a pair of stilts. Mostly because I intend to show Hyper Lad that it is possible to have fun without pushing a button or shooting someone with paint balls.

Yeah, it’s probably too late for my young dudes, but I feel like it’s something I have to do. Maybe it’s not too late to change some habits in yours.

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Zippy The Birthday Boy

It’s not always easy watching your little dudes grow up, but it can be rewarding.

Today, on this date 19 years ago, sometime in the early afternoon, Zippy the Monkey Boy came squirting out into the world. I mean that literally.

His mom was bearing down so hard, Zippy the Monkey Boy almost shot out past the doctor’s waiting hands. Fortunately, the doc had played softball for a long time and was a good fielding glove.

Not kidding in the least.

Still, his entry into the world was indicative of how Zippy the Monkey Boy would go through life. He wasn’t named Zippy the Monkey Boy when he first started staring owlishly at this new, bright and cold place in which he suddenly found himself.

We mostly called him Happy. Or Smiley. Or something along those lines, because that little dude was a marvelously well-behaved baby. For a while. We paid for the easy beginning later one, oh, yes we did. But the start was a smooth one.

Looking back, all I can do is wonder What in the hell were we thinking? Seriously, we looked at his older brother Sarcasmo, who at Zippy the Monkey Boy’s birth was 14 months old, and thought he would be mature enough to help us care for his baby brother. Zippy the Monkey Boy is a lucky little dude getting through that messily wrong assumption relatively unscathed.

He also had to put up with stuff his older brother didn’t. Sarcasmo got to sleep in a cradle borrowed from friends. Zippy the Monkey Boy? He got an egg crate folded up inside a sheet and placed in a clothes basket in which to sleep. It actually turned out great, because we could simply pick up the clothes basket and move it wherever we wanted the little Zip to go.

It was a great dirty clothes basket. In fact, we still have the thing out in our garage. We still have Zippy the Monkey Boy as well, but that’s not nearly as astonishing I don’t think.

For most of his life, Zippy the Monkey Boy has been a stubborn little dude. He’s finally beginning to turn that to the good, instead of using it for evil. It’s been a long, slow process, but the little dude has turned into a pretty amazing young man.

It’s not to say that he doesn’t suffer the occasional lapse, like for instance when he went off to a job interview wearing flip flops and fought valiantly to keep doing so because forcing him to wear actual shoes was, and I quote, “unfair.” Still, those instances are few and far between. And growing farther.

He’s become a young dude I like talking to. He has opinions that can differ significantly from my own and he’s not afraid to get into a spirited defense of those beliefs. And his arguments are more sophisticated than “because they’re cool.” He’s applying his analytical mind to things more significant than a logical reason why he should be allowed more cookies to eat before bedtime

It’s been an honor and a privilege watching as Zippy the Monkey Boy has grown into Zippy the College Boy. He’s given us trials and hugs, screaming fits and screaming laughter, anger and love.

Like everyone’s life, that of Zippy the College Boy has been a roller-coaster of a ride, filled with zigs and zags, ups and downs, but it’s been a ride I wouldn’t have missed for the world.

For a little dude who raced into the world, eager to experience whatever it had to offer, to a young man who believes that on-time happens to other people, he still has a ways to go. I can’t wait to watch his journey there.

Happy birthday, son. You’re deeply loved by more people than you’ll ever know.

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Binky Bucks

The concept of money, superficially at least, is an easy one for most adults to grasp.

You’ve got these little slips of paper with different numbers written on them. You give these slips of paper to someone and that person will give you, well, stuff.

Easy, right? Until you start getting into just what — exactly — that slip of paper is worth. Because, when you get down to it, that slip of paper is only worth something because we — all of us — choose to continue to believe that it’s worth something. The same goes for almost every single currency. If we suddenly believed that the Beanie Baby was the preferred currency. . . It could work.

Still, this abstract sort of thing is difficult for a lot of young dudes and dudettes to grasp.

I don’t think I or my wife, known to me then as She Who Must Be Making Deals, made things any easier for our middle little dude, known to us now as Zippy the College Boy, when we let him pay for something using his binky. For those of you who don’t know, a binky is what we called a pacifier.

So here’s the deal: Zippy the Binky Boy loved his binky. And when I say loved, I mean LLLLOOOOOOVVVVVVEEEEEEDDDDD his binky. He’d pop it in when he got angry. He’d pop it in when he was contemplative. He’d pop it in when he was sleepy. And, you know the opposite of all those things? Also occasion for him to pop the binky into his mouth and start sucking.

Unfortunately for him, it was time for him to give it up. Mostly because we were getting tired of the sound. Slurp, slurp, slurp. It gets old. And, when he’d lose it in his sleep that led to a lot of loud late-night screams. For his older brother, the proto-Sarcasmo, giving up the binky was easy. He had a horrible cold at 6 months and couldn’t breathe through his nose. So he gave up the binky.

Zippy the Binky Boy? Not so easy.

After more unsuccessful attempts than I care to remember at renaming Zippy the Binky Boy, his mom and I finally hit on a solution. We figured that, since he loved animals, possibly more than he loved his binky, we could use that love to leverage the binky away. If we worked it right, we could actually get him to give away his binky and like it.

So we went for a walk down near a nice bunch of shops, one of which sold toys. We took Zippy the Binky Boy by the place, pointed out the really cool clear plastic tube of animal figures, got him really interested and then forced him to keep walking. He was livid. He wanted that tube of animals.

At that point, his mom snuck away and went back to the store. She went in and found out how much the tube of animals was and then paid for it. Then she put back the tube and told the guy that we’d be coming back and asked if he would pretend to accept the binky as currency to pay for the animals.

He said sure. As long as he didn’t have to actually touch the slimy thing. The binky, not the boy. Not that I could blame him.

And so we took Zippy the Binky Boy back into the store, him sniffling and rubbing away snot and tears on his arm. He saw the tube of animals and clutched them to his chest.

“Mine,” he said.

Then we told him he had to pay for them. He managed to say he didn’t have any money. The store owner played his part perfectly. He leaned down and said that he’d gladly take a binky in payment for the tube of animals.


Out came the binky and Zippy the Animal Boy clutched his tube even closer. He stayed happy all the way home until it was time for bed. Then he climbed into bed with his tube of animals and asked for his binky. He needed it to sleep, you see.

We reminded him about how he paid for the tube of animals with his binky.

“Oh, yeah.”

Then he snuggled up to his tube of animals and went right to sleep.

He never looked back, but he did have a habit for several years after of hauling out an old binky he’d found and trying to pay for things with it. We had to tell him it had been a special binky or a special store.

So, why did I go through all this trouble to tell you the story?

No real reason. It’s just that I found the tube of animals in the attic the other day and I couldn’t stop smiling for a long while after so I thought I’d share it with you dudes.

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