Thursday, December 18, 2014

Flavored Lip Gloss Doesn't Cut It Anymore, I Guess

"Mommy, Alison got an IPhone for her birthday!" Susie informed me while we were out shopping.

"Alison?  As in 12-year-old Alison with the really sensible parents?" I asked, my heart dropping at the thought of yet one more of my girls' tween friends walking around with the Internet in her pocket.

"Yup! Isn't that neat?"

"No. No, it isn't. Not at all."

I know these people well.  They're wonderful parents - loving, strict - and their kids are great.  And now even they are handing out smartphones.  Which says to me that this - IPhones for teens and tweens, that is - has simply become the new norm.

Look, I'm not a Luddite, and - 23 years into this parenting gig - I am certainly not at all idealistic about raising children; I am all too aware that, no matter how you raise them and what rules you may enforce, those kids are going to do what they like the minute they leave your house (and sometimes before that).  Hey, my only prayer now is that none of my children grows up to be an axe murderer. Seriously.

But why does a tween need a smartphone in the first place? I know access to a phone is somewhat of a necessity now - my kids all have dumb phones with talk and text so they can stay in contact with us or with their friends. Heck, a dumb phone is what I use myself, although I certainly wouldn't turn down a better device if someone were to hand it to me (with a free data plan, of course).  But a tween?

Maybe what bothers me is that kids (mine included) act so entitled these days (yes, I just wrote "kids these days" - so sue me) - I mean, don't they have to wait until they are grown-up for anything anymore?  And if you give them an IPhone at age 12, what can you wow them with when they are 16? You know, I remember being excited about tangerine-flavored lip gloss when I was 12. Granted, I was a simple child, but still...

Or perhaps my real problem is that a 12-year-old (and my kids, when they are with her) has unsupervised access to the Internet - do people actually bother to restrict that anymore?  Or is that just too 2010?  Have we all simply given up, what with the Internet being so darn ubiquitous these days?

And how can people risk giving their kids expensive electronics, anyway? Is there special insurance for these things? I'll have you know that, last summer, my 14-year-old managed to jump into a pool with his (luckily cheap) cellphone in his pocket.  I would have killed him if he had done that with an IPhone.  Is there some secret place where all the other parents are buying these things cheaply and no one has told me?

In short, is there something everyone knows that I don't?  Do all your kids have smartphones now? Am I the lone tightwad holdout here? And what IS up with kids these days, anyway?

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Impersonating A Gentile

I am inordinately proud of this
So what does a Jew in an interfaith household do on the first night of Chanukah?  She puts up Christmas lights, of course.  It's taken years for me to get the hang of this, but I can now manage to make it look as though I know what I am doing with a long string of icicle lights.  Don't I make a good goy?

In other news, tonight I managed to find the dreidels AND the menorah, all in one fell swoop.  I would like to thank the super-organized me of January 2014, who packed all the holiday things together properly before sending them up to the attic.  I used to be one amazing woman, I tell you.

My only concern is that I cannot find my Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers Christmas CD.  I suspect foul play, as Larry has never evinced much fondness for listening to lyrics such as "Pass the porter, pass the beer, Christmas comes but once a year."  Coal in his stocking, for sure...

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Yarn, Paper, Wood

I am knitting thumbs tonight.  I will be very glad when all this is behind me.

I just finished ANOTHER book - The World's Strongest Librarian. Quirky but a good read, and I learned a lot about Tourette's Syndrome.  You'll notice that my memoir habit still exists.  The 2 other books I've just read are Ann Patchett's compilation of non-fiction memoir-type essays This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage (excellent) and David Harris-Gershon's What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife? (which wins the prize for longest title ever).  This last was pretty good, if only for its excellent description of the history behind the state of constant crisis in the Middle East.

Oh, AND The Late Starters Orchestra, by Ari L. Goldman. That one was okay, although the author went on too long about his son's cello lessons.  Also, it could have been titled "If You Have Lots of Money, You Can Do Many Neat Things as You Get Older" or (even better) "With Lots of Money, Middle Age Does Not Have To Suck."  Still, it got me thinking - for an evening, anyway - about asking to audit my kids' summer band camp and learn a new instrument.  So, yeah, sort of inspiring.

You will be noting the effect of my not having my IPad handy, right? I'm almost caught up on my New Yorkers, also.  I did retrieve said IPad this afternoon and spent a blissful 25 minutes on it, catching up on Words With Friends and checking out Twitter.  But not this evening.  This evening, I'm all thumbs.

Get it?  ALL THUMBS.  Oh, man, I'm something else.

I'll try it, but I won't promise I'll like it

So! A variety of novels written by Ann Patchett are winging their way toward me right now, courtesy of PaperbackSwap, as I try once again to revive the interest in literary fiction that abandoned me completely the day my eldest child was born (oh, 23 years ago).  I don't know why that happened, but it did.

In other news, Larry came home early today and took the girls to go buy a Christmas tree.  As mentioned in these pixels before, our family tree tradition consists of selecting one of many pre-cut and reasonably priced trees from the outside lot of our nearby Home Depot. Festive it isn't, but it's definitely efficient.  The three of them came back with a very nice-looking tree that now reminds me of ALL THE THINGS I still need to do over the next 9 days.

Including knitting thumbs - I've got to get back at it now, folks, time's a-wastin'...

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Anyone Have A Spare Quill Pen?

Remember this post here?  You know, the one I wrote last Monday, telling you all about my having left my IPad at the art teacher's house and I didn't know how I would even manage until I could retrieve it on Wednesday?

I never picked it up.

Me, without an IPad
That's right, folks - it's been 6 DAYS without it. I've read 2 books, 1/2 a New Yorker, and done a lot of knitting.  There was even some jigsaw puzzling going on. And, I will have you know, I am not the only one surprised by my resilience in the face of hardship. In fact, after dinner tonight, Larry (clutching his trusty IPod Touch) looked at me on the couch, where I was reading Ann Patchett's latest compendium of non-fiction essays (excellent - I highly recommend it) and said, "I didn't think you could do it."

"Yes," I said.  "I did.  It's one week tomorrow."

"I really didn't think you could do it," he repeated, staring at me as if I were wearing a prairie dress and bonnet and churning butter right there in our living room.

"Well," I said, "I guess SOME of us aren't addicted to our electronics." Hey, I earned a little gloating, all right?

Unfortunately, this makes tomorrow my moment (or day, really) of truth: the girls have art class on Mondays, so I will once again be in possession of my beloved IPad. Much as I LOVE playing Words With Friends and trading quips on Twitter, I have to admit that I have felt more grounded and sane not having my nose in the Internet all the time.  So, short of moving to the moon, what am I supposed to do about this pesky conundrum?

In other words, I desperately need to hear what has worked for you in your own quest to limit personal electronic usage.  Considering that you are AT THIS VERY MOMENT wasting your time reading this blog on the Internet, this may turn out to be a matter of the blind leading the blind, right?  But let's give it a try, anyway - especially since I can't seem to remember whom we asked for advice before the advent of the worldwide web.

[Butter churn image: History for Children]

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Jews Have More Pun

Did you wake up this morning thinking, "Gee, today seems nice, but a slew of Yiddishe puns would make it a whole lot better"? Well, look no further, folks - Simcha Fisher has you covered.  Just put down the cookie dough and the shopping list and take a look, will you?  I'd copy and paste the whole thing here, but that wouldn't be right.

And yes, all 3 of those hyperlinks go to the same page.  I really want you to see it, all right?

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