January 24, 2008

If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em ?

My son is only 18 months old. In a few days he'll be 19 months old. Yep, I just checked the calendar. It's true. As much as I try to cherish every moment, each day, he gets more and more independent and I feel like the time I have with him is just slipping away like sand through an hour glass.

I am loving being a SAHM, but I like a break from him once in a while, I'm only human. Like now, while I'm blogging. I am truly enjoying MY time just to myself to surf the web and research topics that interest me, read other blogs, comment on others' ideas, gather my own ideas and document things that are of interest to me.

Even as I type this though, I'm wondering how much of this time is really for me and how much of this time is for him. I won't lie, I really do lose sleep over it at times. I can become so immersed in it all that I feel overwhelmed. I spend so much time researching how technology affects kids and families and how I want it to affect our family. I just came across something that has validated these concerns.

Reality Check
I was just surfing some blogs and websites when I came across a PBS presentation site where you can watch a video documentary called "Growing Up Online." The date on it is January 22, 2008, so it's very timely, just a couple of days ago. I've now watched 2 segments. I had to stop after the 2nd and start blogging about my reaction to it before I forget the thoughts I have at the moment. I feel a little sick to my stomach. I feel scared. I feel really overwhelmed. But I also feel justified that now I have more reason to keep doing what it is that I do in technology education and consulting. Already I feel so immersed and overwhelmed with all that is out there, but I feel even more pressed to forge on. I wish I could put my finger on it all, but it's impossible to keep up. At least I can say I'm trying and doing the best I can.

After viewing this documentary so far, my parenting philosophy is 'if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.' Lucian is going to use technology and there is no way around it. Not in this house. Not with a science teacher for a Dad and Mom who does IT consulting and technology education for a living even part time. He's not even 2 years old and I've already set up an iMac for him in his bedroom. His crib isn't even in there yet, but the computer is. He already plays with it. He has known how to use a keyboard and mouse since he was six months old.

So, am I feeding him straight into the Lion's mouth by showing him how to use a computer at this age? Am I pushing him into something undesirable? Am I growing a hacker? Is that bad?

I have just accepted the fact that this is the reality and I've reaffirmed my commitment to do the best I can to prepare myself, my husband and family to join him and become a part of this process. It's the evolution of technology and we're all caught up in it. It's a part of our lives.

Does Technology Make the World a Smaller Place?
Socialization for me used to mean I would talk to my friends or family on the phone or hang out at a favorite place or in a home. We would share ideas on the fly. Unscripted. Real time. It used to be that my friends and family were within driving distance. It used to be that my friends and family were a phone call away.

Then I met my husband online. He lived on the other side of the country. Even though he was willing to make the move to my side of the world, I decided to spread my wings and try a new place to live and have since grown to like it. It's very different being long distance from my family and friends, but this is life and now I have to find a way to cope with these changes. I still wonder though, how in the future am I going to explain to Lucian how his Dad and I met. That's a whole other topic!

One saving grace has been the webcam. So far though, my Mom and Dad are the only ones I ever talk to on it. Even trying to get them to go online to use the webcam sometimes is like pulling teeth though. They're too busy or I'm too busy. Plus the technology is only so great. Sometimes there is a lot of time lag in the conversation so we end up talking over each other. But, it's way better than nothing. Seriously, I wouldn't be able to live on the other side of the country if I didn't have technology.

Having a baby has made it more difficult to find the time to communicate. Once in a while, I get on the horn and talk but that can only happen when Lucian is either napping, sleeping, or really really occupied. With a 2 and 3 hour time difference back 'home' it can be pretty close to impossible to find and make time to blab on the phone and give someone my full attention. So, if I really want to be able to express myself, I have to do it late at night when everyone is sleeping. It can be kind of lonely at times despite all that is available on the WWW.

Does the Internet Open Up to the Edge of the Universe?
This laptop is my portal to the world right now. Sometimes I don't know what I would do if I didn't have it. Is it an addiction? Is it a crutch? Is it a replacement for the real thing? I've asked myself these questions a million times over. I still don't have a definitive answer. All I know is, if I want to reach out to another human being, I open the lid and send an email or post a blog. Communication all happens with the keyboard and trackpad. I can edit, delete, save, copy and paste. I can be confident because I can polish my experience and make it feel the way I want it to.

It's really amazing how much is out there though when you journey into the realm of social networking. It can be downright scary. Just when I get to thinking that technology can bridge the gaps between space and time, I realize how many off ramps are on this new bridge. It's not just a straight line.

Will I Still Feel the Same Later?
Another reason, a very important reason, for why I blog is self preservation. I love to help others by posting reviews or tips or references, but most of the time, I do it because I'm hoping one day I can reflect back on this. I'm not yet sure why that is important to me now. Maybe because like I mentioned in the beginning, I feel like life is slipping me by, quickly and I want to hold on to it just a little while longer. It's my way of savoring it. Preserving it. Keeping time.

One of the things I want to look back on in the future is how I feel right now about raising Lucian to be a responsible human being. I have a lot of opinions about how I would like for him to turn out. I'm really nervous about what kind of teenager he'll be. Will he still respect me when he becomes a teenager?

Even at the toddler stage, he's already starting to push me away. It's scary. This is only the beginning and already I'm a basket case thinking about it. I'm just hoping that by being active and trying to learn whatever I can about new technology, it will keep me in touch with him. I'm looking for a way to accept the distance that will come between us. What will be enough to live with? How will my life adjust to his as we both grow up?

I'm going to go and watch the rest of the video documentary now. It is definitely a reality check so far. I hope you'll watch it and share your thoughts with me.

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