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One thing my own mother never stressed about was the almost
daily need to charge all of the damn equipment kids use. Phones, tablets, laptops, games—the devices
demand juice just like our little ones do.
It begs the question: just who is responsible for
remembering to plug everything in at the end of the day?
My 6-year-old son enjoys the use of my old iPad (the one
that was constantly crashing anytime I tried to stream "The Bachelor" on it). He also has a mini iPad he was gifted for participating in a research
study about kids and technology—oh, the irony. He uses the mini to watch "Garfield" on Netflix. His Dad loads the other one with cool and educational apps that are parent
Invariably, every few days or so, my son runs his batteries out. So he leaves the now dead device (or devices) on the sofa and goes in search of my phone or current iPad. Typically, this
is done like some ninja stealth cat burglar—silently, sneakily and
successfully, meaning when I finally get to relax after the kids are in bed and
reach for my own device, it has only 4 percent power left.
drives me nuts. Like steam through my
ears and head will shortly explode nuts.
When I come upon one of his devices with single-digit power,
my first instinct is to plug it in. It
feels like a modern act of love and tenderness. I can almost imagine Carol Brady doing the same after letting out a
faintly audible sigh, then happily removing a fresh batch of cookies from the oven. That first instinct is like the little angel
on my shoulder.
On my other shoulder is the disgruntled devil telling me to
f&$% it, the little spoiled kiddo needs to learn responsibility and he sure
as hell won't learn with me cleaning up all his messes. Just where does he think 100 percent power comes
from, the Charging Fairy? I think
not. Tough love, kid. It's the only way
to learn responsibility.
It shouldn't be so difficult, but it is. At least it feels that way. Literally every time I come across a device,
it is low on power. I have spoken with
my son about it countless times, but his behaviors really haven't changed. He will nod his darling little head in firm
agreement to "do better." But he never does.
I vacillate from thinking my expectations of a 6-year-old
are too high, reassuring myself that this is new territory we are all in—parenting amidst technology—so we are all pioneers, figuring it out as we go
along and just plain getting angry and frustrated with both of us.
In the end, I don't know what the right approach to this new
parenting conundrum is. My growing anger
doesn't help either of us, I know that, especially given that my son hasn't
been clued in enough to alter his power-wasting ways. Me taking his irresponsibility personally is silly
and distinctly unhelpful, because I can pretty much guarantee the boy isn't
purposefully trying to insult me or make me feel like his tech maid.
For now, I'm going to start listening to that disgruntled
little devil on my shoulder and allow the boy to feel the pinch of his
carelessness. Not plugging in the device
will make me feel like I jerk, for certain, but I don't see any other way to
help my son embrace the behavior I want him to have unless he feels the consequence
of his forgetfulness.
Will this make for a few difficult dinner-making hours—that time of the day I fully embrace using technology as a babysitter? Yep, it sure will. Will the sky fall in and create Armageddon in
our home? Ugh. Probably, yes. But until my boy understands the connection,
both literal and figurative, between technology and charging, nothing will