Back to the '80s

Paula Brown

This past week when we were visiting my sister’s house, my 5-year-old son picked up her landline telephone and quite seriously asked me “What’s this?” “It’s a phone, honey,” I replied. “What games does it have?”

This really got me thinking about how much things can change in just a generation or two. Not only the changes, but specifically, what things my kids will never get to experience, all in the name of technology, and what is that going to do to them?

I feel like making them live like I had to in order for them to appreciate what they have. I’m considering making this the “Summer of Technological Hardships.” Who’s with me? First, all cellphone screens will be covered with duct tape, and texting and any other feature will be disabled. When the phone rings, you answer it blind, mister! Is it your grandmother? Is it someone selling magazines? Is it the kid down the street you don’t want to talk to? Nobody knows. But you have to answer it, because someone could be lying in a ditch somewhere or someone could be inviting you to go somewhere fun … it’s a risk that must be taken.

Time for TV? Sorry kids, we only get 3 channels now and you have to walk over to there and change them by hand. Yes, you have to watch the commercials and no, nothing is recorded to watch whenever you feel like it. If you want to watch cartoons, you wait until Saturday morning.

If we want to go to the movies, I’m going to call their dad and make him read out loud every single movie playing except for the one they want to see, including showtimes, a brief description, and who’s in it. Then, as soon as he announces the title of their movie, I will instruct him to abruptly disconnect. Repeat.

Let’s say they want to call a friend? They will have to wait 45 minutes to use the phone, then I’ll somehow get the mom on the other end to mimic a “busy” signal. After I explain what that is, I’ll let him repeat this a few dozen times before he forgets why he’s even calling his friend in the first place, and then as soon as he remembers, someone else will be using the phone again. Eventually he’ll leave a message for his friend and then wonder if his friend ever got the message. When the friend calls back, sadly, my line will be “busy.”

If he ever does manage to get a phone call through to someone, I’ll make sure it’s on speaker so his little brother can be secretly listening in from the other room and later repeat everything that was said during dinner.

Next time I’m asked a question there will be no Google Mom ready to look up how many bees live in a nest for you. You want to know? You get yourself a ride to the public library and figure it out. And while you’re there, learn what a card catalog is and wait a couple hours for a computer to open up and then type out a 10 page report about it. Double spaced.

Not last and not least, is there a favorite song you want to hear? I’ll just put my iTunes on shuffle and make you listen to six hours of terrible music, pausing every two songs to talk for 10 minutes until it comes on, and then I’ll talk halfway through it so you miss the beginning and the end.

Buckle up, kids. It’s going to be a bumpy ride. Actually, don’t buckle up. Nobody really cared back then.

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