One of my fellow TAs (whom I'll call the Bearded One) told me how he recently took his son to visit TA's mom. The son needed to use the phone, so he proceeded to the kitchen. After a few minutes, the Bearded One followed him. The son was irritated and baffled. "The phone doesn't work," he said. "Yes it does. She's had it forever," replied the Bearded One. "Look," son said, and began pushing the numbers on the phone.
Only, it was a rotary phone. He was sticking his finger in the holes, pressing not dialing.
"No way!" I said. Everyone's at least seen a rotary phone, right. Not so, the Bearded One insists and then he asks me, "Would your son know how to use it?"
And once I thought about it, I realized he probably wouldn't. Amazing how technology changes in a generation.
On the flipside, what about the technology we literally share with our children? In my house, the computer desk has become a contested space. The moment I take a break, my son and my nephew are asking "Are you finished? Can we use it? How much longer?" They're 8 and 6 and they're rushing me off my computer. My sister has grudgingly admitted that she's going to have to buy another one. With the kids, her work stuff, and my trying to wrap up the dissertation, no way is one going to get it.
I started thinking about the technology I shared with my parents--somewhat. See, my parents are old school, "don't ask me why or when," "I-know-your-little-grown-ass-ain't-rushing-me!" sort of people, so no way would I have asked more than once to use something of theirs. the only thing I could come up with was the VCR. I was with them when we got our first one--they bought satellite dish service (remember the old one that you had to dig a hole in your yard and pour cement in for?) and the VCR, "a $995 value" (or so the salesman said) came free. I loved that big ol', boxy, black thing!
Only problem was, tapes were still in the $100 range, and my parents were not ones to spend money on frivolities. Then, video stores finally came to our neck of rurality in 1997 or so (KIDDING!) and my sister and I were in heaven (remember how they used to charge you to rewind?)
Anyway, at this point, I'm wondering what my son will share with his kid.
I hope my future grandchild perfects the art of nagging as well as his potential father has.