Sophie made a sad announcement about her day on the way home:
Sophie: Today, Brandi ruined my life.
Me: You mean your day?
Sophie: No, my whole life.
Me: What did she do?
Sophie: Well, she did a nice thing too. She let me take a drink of her water. It was colored water, and I liked it. And she had it in a water bottle, and she wiped off all her germs, and she told me that she would share with me, and then she let me have a drink.
Me: I don’t understand. That sounds like a nice thing to do. What bad thing did she do that ruined your life?
If this were in the newspaper, it would say, “The silliest family in the world is the Fensters. They have a dad, a mom, and a daughter. The daughter is the silliest, then the dad… no, then the mom, then the dad. And if you want to visit them, they’re in (Our Neighborhood), (Our Street), (Our House Number).”
And if people read that, they’d keep the newspaper forever.
Sophie threw her first full-scale temper tantrum as a first grader today, with the requisite tears and screaming, shutting herself in her room, threatening not to come down to dinner unless we met her terms, screaming “I’M SORRY!” in her angriest voice, and other general unpleasantness.
When she finally calmed down, I sent her upstairs to get ready for bed. And she skipped up the stairs singing, to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It”:
If you’re angry and you know it, throw a tantrum.
If you’re angry and you know it, throw a tantrum.
I walked into the living room the other day to find Sophie watching live television and frantically pressing the pause button to no effect. She didn’t ask me, “How does this work?” or even “Which button do I push?” She just sighed an exasperated and frustrated, “The pause button’s broken!”
I diagnosed the problem immediately: we don’t have TiVo on that television. She was holding the remote control for the DVD player. But in the short months we’ve had a TiVo in the other room she’s learned that it’s possible to pause live TV and skip commercials, and has apparently concluded that all television has always worked that way, and it’s just that nobody ever bothered to tell her before.
Life Before Google
That’s not an unreasonable assumption for a child at age five. She also learned recently that cars have red lights on the back to tell you when they’re stopping — which really is how it’s always been; she just hasn’t been tall enough to see them before. The difference between something that’s new to her and something that’s new to the world is subtle.
My understanding of modern technology will always be colored by growing up as it was invented. Cellular phones are a natural progression from cordless phones, which followed from wired phones before them. Dial-up modems led to wired networks and then (recently) to ubiquitous Wi-Fi. Understanding one technology goes a long way toward understanding its successors.
But to a child growing up today, a “computer” by definition has instantaneous access to the whole of human knowledge. She’s never had to wonder about anything, since if she asks a question I can’t answer we just sit down with Wikipedia and Google Images and surf until all curiosity is satisfied. That’s what computers are for.
When Sophie was playing with a slinky yesterday I bemoaned not having any stairs in our apartment, and she didn’t understand what use stairs could be with a slinky! Without missing a beat, the next words out of my mouth were, “Let’s find a video of a slinky going down stairs on YouTube.”
And all that brings us to Julia Sweeney’s cautionary monologue titled Sex Ed on (among other things) the dangers of turning too often to the Internet for answers:
I gave Sophie a jetBlue Airport Playset for Christmas a few years ago and when she began playing with it again today I joined in. The set includes a catering truck, baggage cart, pushback tug, various cautionary signs and pylons, and of course an airplane — all in jetBlue’s livery.
One can’t help but recall The Phantom Tollbooth, of course:
“THIS PACKAGE CONTAINS THE FOLLOWING ITEMS:
“One (1) genuine turnpike tollbooth to be erected according to directions
“Three (3) precautionary signs to be used in a precautionary fashion
“Assorted coins for use in paying tolls.
“One (1) map, up to date and carefully drawn by master cartographers, depicting natural and man-made features
“One (1) book of rules and traffic regulations, which must not be bent or broken.”
We played for a while in the manner the toy’s creators probably imagined: loading baggage and food at the gate, pushing back, following signs to the runway, and then of course flying around the room.
And then Sophie decided the next time the plane asked for permission to take off she would just say “no”. Even when support vehicles and eventually every toy car in her room lined up waiting to cross the active runway, the “tower” refused to let the plane move. After a while I announced that the passengers had run out of food and the plane had to go back to the gate to get more and the answer still came back enthusiastically “no!”
So I guess the major question we have to ask is: is there something about jetBlue aircraft that encourages controllers (even at age five) to leave them sitting on runways?
The scene: at our local dance studio, a pair of teenage boys lingers outside the social space / changing and storage area as some girls block the entrance. Eventually we hear:
Some Girl: Walk away, Chris. They’re naked.
What some of you may already know is that telling a teenage boy that there are naked girls nearby virtually guarantees that he won’t walk away. In fact, I’m half surprised the pair didn’t immediately repel down a ventilation duct from the roof just to get around the blockaded entryway.