I was on kid duty this weekend.
We didn’t do anything major, like hit an amusement park, but we had a great time just being us. Planning Halloween costumes & shopping for the random supplies kept us busy. Creating a custom white werewolf & a cosplay-level Gamzee Makara, well, these things take time. We also, somehow, ended up taste-testing all the flavors in the spice rack. Yes, anise tastes like nasty black licorice, mustard seed is pretty tangy, and chewed cloves make your tongue feel like you’ve been licking a battery.
Both the teenage girl & pre-teen boy had friends come over at some point during the weekend. My son and his bud battled their Beyblades for awhile. This reminded me of hanging out with my childhood friend, Eddie, and zipping cars around his racetrack. Other than that resemblance to my childhood, the rest of my kids’ interaction was different than my own experience at both their ages. For the majority of their time together with their friends, my kiddos were glued to the laptop.
They basically used it as their personal on-demand video player & research library. Due to the 5 year age difference, and the whole opposite-gender thing, they obviously have different tastes. But what they had in common was pulling up videos on YouTube, hitting forums related to the topics they were watching, chatting & laughing with their friends about it all, and using that digital touchpoint as a means of interaction.
At first I was thinking, Well, that’s no different than me chatting on Facebook or Twitter. But it is different. When that’s going on [which, is like, a lot…] I am physically alone at the keyboard, interacting with an avatar–a projection of the real person on the other end. I believe that the person tethered to that electronic image is the same as in the picture. But I don’t really know. Maybe I don’t even care. By that I mean, I’m not really engaging with that actual person, but the stream of words that person chooses to send out. And I am okay with that. There is editing. A self-determined set of rules is in place which governs what information we transmit back and forth. I might be getting the whole truth, no truth, or something in-between. The same for you.
But, that person is not sitting beside me. Distance and pixels separate us.
Even as I’m drafting this post: you have no idea what I’m wearing [if anything], where I’m sitting [coffee shop? library? home? in a cubicle?], or if I’m even slightly like the person you think you’re interacting with. I am holding back information–you don’t know my kids’ names. I am releasing pieces and chunks: you know I have a spice rack, that my family enjoys the whole dressing-up-for-Halloween thing, that I had a childhood friend named Eddie. But how much of that is true? What if I don’t even have kids? Or, if I do, why was I on kid duty this weekend? Why was this weekend different than any other? What if Eddie never existed? Or we played with dolls instead of cars?
And you can’t look at my face, hear me snicker, playfully punch me if I get cheeky, catch my contagious yawn. If we were at dinner, or a bar, or in a car, then we could experience these things with one another. But, at opposite ends of the wi-fi, we lack the physical presence my kids enjoyed with their friends. If I have kids. If they have friends.
So what the hell are you getting at, Lucas?
Maybe nothing. Maybe something deep and profound. Maybe this isn’t even Lucas, but one of his [imaginary?] kids hacking into his blog. If so, that young’un did a pretty bang-up job of mimicking his online voice. My online voice. I’d be a pretty proud, impressed papa if that were true. Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. You’ll never know. And maybe that’s the point.
For the record, I do have two amazing kids. I was on Daddy-Duty because their mom was in Louisville, KY visiting an old army buddy. We didn’t really taste the mustard seeds, though. We’ve done it before, and know better. Eddie was my best friend when I lived in the tiny tobacco town of Pine Level, NC. We not only played with his glow-in-the-dark racetrack, but also ate Cap’n Crunch straight out of the box, and stole wood from our nemesis’ treehouse to make our own. 😉 Most everything I blog about is 98% true & unembellished. All things written in invisible ink are 100% certified truth.