Earlier this week I read an article smugly titled, “Your iPad Is Not A Babysitter.” I knew before reading the first sentence that it would be annoying. I expected it to be written by some smug parent (or worse, non-parent) who felt it was their place to judge other parents. I loathe parents like that. I mean, I totally judge other parents, but mostly I keep that crap to myself or in gossip sessions with my friends. That’s where it belongs.
I understand what this guy is getting at. Kids spend too much time staring at screens. (Not just kids, me too.) I get it, he’s probably right. Although, I’d venture to guess that once in a while, when he works late – his wife lets his kids play with the iPad instead of entertaining them every second. I bet every dinner isn’t filled with music and clever questions from adorable children.
I bet, once in a while they act like monsters. Their cute little heads spin around, Exorcist style and they stomp and scream over not getting to play with the iPad. I bet there are time-outs. They might be sent to the room. And I bet…I bet every once in a while, they get the iPad. Because once in a while Mom and Dad are tired. Once in a while they want to make dinner and listen to music and drink a glass of wine and talk to each other instead of their children. And sometimes, when their bodies are tired and their heads ache from the stress of the day the iPad is a saving grace.
But those are just guesses.
Here’s where he made me angry.
That four-hour car ride with two children? There was no DVD player, laptop, iAnything, and we all survived just fine. Enjoyed it, even. The same Etch-a-Sketches, books, dolls, toy cars, action figures or even songs and human conversation we all appreciated while growing up? They still work just fine — for family road trips or any other situation where you may be tempted to just slip the kid an iPhone and be done with it.
The family road trips we all enjoyed? I remember those. The destination was great, the getting there was miserable. Crammed in the back of a minivan, fighting for space with my sister. Carrying a backpack that contained 17 CD’s (hoping they wouldn’t get scratched) and 12 AA batteries, praying it would be enough. I might have packed a book along with my Tiger Beat magazine and a deck of cards that immediately got flicked in my face by my big sister.
Good times indeed.
No. No, I’m sorry, that doesn’t make any sense. It’s 2012. If you have an iPad, tablet, portable whatever why would you pack a car load of toys when you can pack just the device? You could take three iPads for the weight of one Etch-a-Sketch. There’s an app for that, it’s free.
Books are heavy and get torn up easily, especially on long car rides. I love real books, but you can take piles of books on the tablet and maybe five in the actual car.
Songs? Don’t even get me started. My entire collection of music is on my phone. That’s why Reese and Jackson know every word to Brass Monkey and Cheeseburger In Paradise. the iPhone has made for well-rounded children. Do you know what Taryn and John knew at this age? The Blue’s Clue’s mail song. It made me want to stab myself in the eye.
Dolls, action figures, toys. Yes, bring some of those because in a four-hour road trip they will get bored – even with a fully loaded iPad. But you don’t need to wear all the clothes you need for your trip so you can fill the trunk with toys. The iPad covers most of it. If you choose to load your car down with toys, even though gas is nearly $4/gallon – that’s on you.
But don’t judge the rest of us for taking the path of less resistance. When traveling with children there is absolutely, positively, nothing wrong with taking the path of least resistance.