Thursday, May 15, 2014

Toddlers and technology

You’ve probably all seen the hilarious picture of the little three year old boy on the phone with his hand on his face in “face-palm” position…with a funny little quote that says something like, “No, Grandma. Listen, double click the Chrome icon…”

It’s funny…because it’s so true. Children today are introduced to technology the minute they are born. They grow up with it and if their parents and grandparents do not keep up, the next thing you know, you have a three year old giving you tech support.

Fortunately for my grandson, his “Meme” (that’s what he calls me) is not completely technology impaired. I possess a smart phone and a laptop computer and even a game console. Admittedly, I only play one actual video game…and primarily use the game console as a blu ray player…but I do have it. I am not a tech geek. I cannot do all sorts of cool tricks with my technology or upgrade my system and I can’t take my computer apart and rebuild it or anything like that…but I am, at the very least, reasonably “tech savvy”. I understand the basics. Just don’t ask me about The Cloud…because that still confuses me.

Anyway…my point is that my grandson will not have to explain to me what an icon is or tell me how to navigate that new-fangled gadget…or how to access, as my dad once called it, “That there internet thang”. He may have to help his great grandparents with these things, but not Meme. Although - it would not surprise me if ten years from now there is some new toy my grandson has to teach me how to use. At just under two years old, he has figured out how to get into his mother’s smart phone, find her contacts, and call people based on their picture. He recently called me at work via “Face Time” and proceeded to smile at me a lot and then hang up. It was one of the highlights of my day. Another highlight of the day was telling his mother that he did it because she had no idea.

He knows how to run his little thumb across the smart phone and scroll through pictures. He knows which ones are videos and how to make them play. He knows how to find games he can play. And he loves to just push buttons until he has made an utter mess of your phone and deleted contacts and changed settings to the point where YOU can barely use your phone. I generally keep my phone hidden when he’s visiting. It’s easier than telling him no…because dear lord, that adorable little face…

Anyway…recently, my daughter and grandson came over to the house to visit. As usual, I spent most of the evening trying to keep him entertained because he is inquisitive and wants to play with everything and touch everything. I try to keep things put away but he always finds something he should not have. He is obsessed with phones – which he calls “mones” – and computers and remotes. He wants to play with them all. Anything with a screen or buttons…he is drawn to it like a moth to a flame.

His parents recently bought the new X Box with voice control. Thus he went and stood in front of my television and commanded “Bock on”. (Box on) When my daughter explained this to me, I almost fell over laughing.

When he arrived on this particular evening, I hid my phone and turned off my laptop and closed it, in hopes that he would ignore it…no such luck. He got up on the couch and opened it and closed it a couple of times. Since it was turned off, it did not respond. He tapped a few keys, still no response. He opened and closed a couple more times…and then ran his tiny little finger over the mouse pad. I just shook my head in amazement…my mother does not even know how to get my laptop to turn on. Fortunately, he couldn’t find the power button so he never actually got it to turn on. Bored, he put it aside and went to find more things he could touch. At one point, he found my game system controller. I saw him pick it up…and he got that look on his face that makes you picture a little cartoon light bulb appearing over his little blonde head. He took it over to the couch, climbed up, pulled my laptop back into his lap, and opened it. He pointed the game controller at the laptop screen and commanded “bock on”. Needless to say, this did not work…but the fact that he put those things together, made me both crack up laughing and also marvel at his little thought process. “Holy crap,” I thought to myself, “my grandson is a genius.”

He may have also recently stuck his head between the bathtub and a bannister post and gotten stuck there, causing his mother to have to butter his head to get him out…but technologically speaking, he’s still a genius.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A friend of mine recently posted an article on Facebook talking about one of the popular memes going around.  It is a series of lovely little pictures that say something to the effect of “If you can’t accept me at my worse, you don’t deserve me at my best”.  The article goes on to say how this statement gets taken out of context and seems to assume that you can be as crappy a person as you like…and that if people love you, they should accept it.  “Deal with it”, some of them say.  The article is quite insightful and is titled, “If I can’t accept you at your worst, then maybe you should stop being so horrible.”  It’s so true!!!
On the one hand, I agree that everyone has bad things about them and everyone has bad days, etc.  If you love someone, you should accept that they have a few bad habits or not so great qualities…provided these are things they at least attempt to work on.  The fact is…no amount of my loving you is going to make it ok for you to be a serial killer, rapist, masochist, narcissist, or other incredibly nasty things.
Everyone has flaws…and the people who love them…love them despite those flaws.  However, people usually know they have flaws and they at least make some sort of effort to be better.  At the very least, they try really hard to make sure that their good outweighs their bad.  So that whole  “If you can’t accept me at my worst…” thing…comes with a caveat.  People should acknowledge this.
Oddly enough…the day before I read this article…I was thinking something very similar and thinking about writing it down.  Reading that article nudged me enough to actually get it done.
There’s another popular little meme thing that gets posted on Facebook a lot.  It has different variations of text.  The most recent one I saw said, “You are allowed to terminate toxic relationships.  You are allowed to walk away from people who hurt you.  You are allowed to be angry and selfish and unforgiving.  You don’t owe anyone an explanation for taking care of yourself.”
Now…let’s see…I agree with what the writer was probably thinking…but I think this takes it a bit too far…and I think it misses a golden opportunity to present the other side of the coin as the article mentioned above did.
Yes.  You are allowed to terminate toxic relationships.  Of course you are.  However, you should also be aware of whether or not you are causing any of the toxicity of said relationship and work on not causing it in future relationships.
Yes.  You are allowed to walk away from people who hurt you.  Just remember that the people you hurt are allowed to walk away from you too.  So try and remember to be forgiving of the things about others that you would want them to forgive about you.
Here’s where I think this one hits a curb.  “You are allowed to be angry and selfish and unforgiving.”  I think that the writer MIGHT have meant…that you are allowed to appear this way from the eyes of the person you are walking away from.  Because…in any other situation, would you tell someone it is “ok” to be selfish or unforgiving?  Probably not.  So yes, I think it’s ok to be viewed by someone else as selfish and unforgiving because they are not looking at themselves and how much they have hurt you.  But I don’t think that being hurt by someone is an excuse to actually BE selfish and unforgiving.
The last sentence says “You don’t owe anyone an explanation for taking care of yourself”.  Well…to some degree, this is true.  You do not OWE anyone an explanation for taking care of yourself…unless what you are doing to take care of yourself directly affects them.  Then…I think a little explanation might be in order.  Additionally…if you have to walk away from someone because they have become a toxic relationship for you…make sure they know.  It may not help…they may not learn from it…but make sure they know.  Chances are, the person who got angry enough to write this…told the person they were walking away from…a thousand times.  So no, you do not owe that person anything.  You have to do what is best for you and what is best for your health and sanity.  However, put these things into context.  Make sure to look at yourself when you are boldly proclaiming these statements. 
Allowing yourself to let go of toxic people?  Make sure you are not one of them.
Allowing yourself to let go of people who cause drama in your life?  Make sure you’re not the one creating (or exacerbating) the drama in the first place.  There is no such thing as a “Drama Magnet”.  If you’re constantly surrounded by drama…look in the mirror…because you might be the dramatic one.
All that being said…please don’t think that I’m saying that every situation is the same or that it’s always your fault too.  Relationships are generally about two people…and they are rarely completely one-sided or completely one person’s fault.  What I AM saying…is to constantly take a look at what you are adding to the relationship…and while you’re getting rid of those “toxic people”…be aware of your own shortcomings and make sure you’re not one of those toxic people someone else is trying to let go.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

On clutter...

I spent the majority of the first 18 years of my life living in hovels.  My dad had a hard time keeping a job and my mom tried her best but daycare just doesn’t pay well.  So we could never really afford a house big enough for all of us.  There were a couple of times we got to spend a few months living in a house that had a room for everyone…but not often.  Most of the time, we ended up in a two bedroom house.  My brother and I would get our own rooms and my parents would sleep in the den/living room.  There was always “stuff” everywhere.  My dad is a bit of a pack rat.  Well…let me rephrase that.  He WAS a bit of a pack rat…now he’s more of a “hoarder”.  But that’s another story.

Also, just so this makes sense, I wasn’t like those kids who grew up in one house during their entire or childhood…or even two houses…or three.  If I sit and think for a minute…I can remember living in ten different houses between the ages of 5 and 18.  This does not include places we lived before I was 5 years old…because I can’t remember back that far.

My point here is…I spent my life living in a mess.  Our house could never be clean because there was never any room for everything.  So there was always “stuff” everywhere.  Stacked in every room…on every surface…in every corner…there was stuff.  It was not organized, it was not neat…it was always a mess.  Add to that…that many of the places we lived were old…and ended up being infested with roaches.  So, many of the places I lived during my childhood…had bugs.  Not all…but many.  It wasn’t because we were dirty.  We kept the kitchen clean…kept the trash out…kept food put away…the houses were just old and we often lived in the country.  There was one house that we even had an exterminator come and treat…but the bugs just came back.

Most of my life I avoided having friends over because I didn’t want them to see what the inside of my house looked like.  I was embarrassed.  I had a few friends that I eventually got close enough to that I would let them come over…but it was still hard for me…especially when I had been to their nice, clean homes.  It was a hard way to live.

When I got out on my own, one of the things I promised myself was that I would never live like that again and I would never make my kids live like that.  I never wanted my kids to be embarrassed to have a friend over.  I am not the cleanest person in the world…I never really learned how to clean properly so I struggle…but I have never gone back to living the way I did when I was growing up.  Thus, it’s pretty important to me now to keep my house at least relatively clean and uncluttered.

I do have some pack rat tendencies.  I’m very sentimental…and growing up poor will make you turn into a bit of a collector.  You want “things” just to have them…because you didn’t have them before.  Things that comfort you and make you feel happy.

The key is to avoid having so many things that you can’t see the floor in any room of the house.

Basically, every day is a struggle for me to keep my house clean and uncluttered.  I’m relatively organized by nature but it’s very difficult to organize when you don’t have a lot of space.  So I try to think of new ways to keep things organized and neat even though I don’t have the room to do it the way I really WANT to do it.  Some days I wish I could hire someone to come in and organize it all FOR me and then I could just attempt to maintain it.  Alas, services like that are not cheap…and would probably require more of my time than I have to give.  But it’s a nice dream.

Someday…in a perfect world…I will live in a house big enough that it has a place for everything so that everything can be in it’s place.  My house will be neat and clean and organized all the time.  And I will sit on my front porch swing, with a drink in my hand…and watch the pigs fly overhead…