Screen Shot 2013-01-26 at 4.09.47 PM“Mommy, you forgot your phone. ” I left it plugged in resting on the center console.

“Thank you, Declan.”I said, turning off the streaming Pandora and unplugging it from the cord. “Do you know, when I was your age, they didn’t have phones like this.”

“What did they have?” It was a fair question.

“They had phones that were hung on the wall like pictures. They had chords on them. You had to stand near the wall and talk on the phone. You had to dial numbers in a circle.” I said.

“Oh,” he said, crinkling his face trying to imagine talking on a picture attached to the wall. Maybe it was like an iPod or that fake flat-screen fish tank at the hairdressers.

“And they didn’t have email.” I added

“How did you get your email, Mommy?” he inquired.

“There was no email. We had letters on paper. With stamps. The mailman brought them.” Today, our mailman brings boxes from Sometimes they even contain something cool for him.

“Wo!” he said, stopping in his tracks. I pulled his arm toward the library. You can’t just stand in the middle of the parking lot contemplating cave men.

“But the biggest thing – we didn’t have computers, or DVDs, or video games.”Screen Shot 2013-01-26 at 4.14.15 PM

“WHAT?” he said. “Who took your video games?”

“No one. They weren’t invented.” He looked at me like my students do when I tell them the only video gaming system I have ever personally owned is Pong, and in my day we only had one pair of sneakers.

“No! Now I think you’re lying – that’s just crazy!!” he said.

He paused. I never lie. I was telling the truth. “What did you play then, Mommy?”

“Games,” I said. “Board games.”

“You were bored?” he asked.

“No, we played board games. With boards and pieces, like Candy Land.”  We play a lot of Candy Land. I hustle him on a regular basis. I don’t let him win just because he’s five unless I need the game to end sooner than expected.

“Games? Like chess and Sorry?” We started chess about six months ago after he watched Mike the Knight.  I hustle him in chess, too.

“Games. Like chess and Sorry  and checkers.” I didn’t want to leave any out.

“And sometimes, if it was really boring, I had to play with uncle Dan.”

“You played with Uncle Dan?” Uncle Dan’s a hero. I must have been really, really lucky to have been able to play with Uncle Dan on a regular basis. Like having a rock star for your dad.

“I played with Uncle Dan. But I didn’t like to play with Uncle Dan, because he only wanted to play trucks. And he bit me.” Sometimes you have to dispel the hero myth.

“What about Aunt Mary?”

“She wasn’t born yet. And then she was a baby. She couldn’t play. Besides, I only liked to read books.” Babies don’t read books. And they don’t like to hear books without pictures. They rip them.

“Wo!! I don’t think I would like that at all.” Reading books. Phones stuck to walls. Uncle Dan biting. No video games–a nightmare.

“Did you tell me the truth or did you see that in a movie?”

All this is beyond the comprehension of a five-year old much like understanding the inner workings of Stephen Hawking’s mind is beyond mine. I am old.

I may be old, but I’m amazed. I feel young–it seems like yesterday that we saw our first computer. We went to my friend Jen’s house and programmed, “My brother is a moron,” in endless DOS loops that extended from the first line into infinity. Now I complain if it takes a full second for a website to load when the reality is I have the Library of Congress at my fingertips. I’m going to a site visit at a school next week, and while I’m gone I’ve arranged to have a hologram of me teaching my class. Before, I’d have needed to request a real flesh and blood substitute teacher. Technology is a miracle indeed.

It only takes the face of an incredulous five-year old for whom any of this is way beyond comprehension to make me see how miraculous all of this is.


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