“Mom, this thing is broken I think”, said my son, with a little irritation in his voice as he pushed the video into and out of the VCR. The whirring sounds indicated the machine’s own bad attitude toward the constant intrusion it was experiencing. It occurred to me that my four year old was unaware that video tapes actually had tape inside that had to be rewound in order to return to the beginning, unlike his beloved Cars DVD which could be magically returned to the beginning within seconds of being ejected and returned to the DVD player. I explained this to Frankie, whose face registered first a disbelief, then a suspicion that his mother was pulling a fast one. “Honest” I said to him. “Before DVDs were invented, movies were put on video tapes like this and the tape winds through the machine to play the movie. If you want to watch it again, you have to tell the machine to rewind all the tape back to the beginning”. “Mom, that just does not make sense – it takes too long”. It was then that it hit me, as it has several times in the past few years…that I am becoming my parents. I say this with no malice or disappointment, but with a quiet surprise as I think back to the things that were innovative when I was young: rotary telephones, answering machines, remote controls (corded, of course), and cable tv, and remember the things my parents would remark upon such as party lines, electric appliances, and portable radios. Now, my son lives in a world of automation and instant gratification. It’s no wonder that I tell him on a daily basis that he must be more patient. Someday soon he’ll ask me about other things that were new when I was younger, and I’ll tell him and watch with amusement at the confusion and wonder at how my husband and I ever survived. That attitude will serve him well as he grows older and forges his own place in this world. God-willing I’ll be around to witness it first-hand with my own confusion and wonder.
Back in the Day March 2, 2009