Every good story needs a prologue and this is mine. I’m known for a few things around my neighborhood (none of which I will mention here), but I’m definitely not known for jumping on the trend bandwagon every time a new product is launched. Get ready to be shocked—I’m still using the cell phone and computer I purchased nine years ago. What is even more scandalous is that everyone in my family uses the same computer. Gasp. Get out the defibrillator to restart your heart. Crazy, isn’t it? But a couple of weeks ago when I opened the door for my teenager as he returned home from school, everything changed in my secure, unchanged, no-new-devices world as soon as he opened his mouth.
“I’m getting an iPad!” he screamed in my face as he flung his backpack in the corner of the kitchen and sat down. It didn’t take an expert to determine that my son was already registering an over-the-moon rating on the excitement chart. Turns out, his school was providing iPads to a few students. He was one of the lucky chosen.
The next night, we showed up at the school to pick up his iPad. “Are you sure you want to trust a teenager with a six-hundred-dollar piece of equipment?” I whispered in the teacher’s ear as she handed the iPad to my son who was drooling and panting like a dog waiting for a bone. My son was already known for losing everything which had already caused me to lose my sanity on more than one occasion. As a result, I was already trying to figure out how to padlock the iPad to his leg.
The teacher nodded vigorously. “Oh yes, textbooks will soon be a thing of the past. The world is changing … and fast,” she added with a smile. I gulped nervously as I skulked away behind my son who was clutching the iPad to his chest like a newborn baby. I hate change. But whether I like it or not, I know it is a necessary part of life. Otherwise, I’d still be sporting that Afro I mistakenly decided to acquire my senior year in high school, playing eight-track tapes in my car stereo, and doing “The Hustle” under giant disco balls.
A few minutes later, we arrived at home. As my son plopped down on the couch with the iPad on his lap, we all crowded around the tablet like it was a bonfire on a cold autumn night. “What can it do?” I asked as I peered over his shoulder and stared at the empty screen. If this thing couldn’t dance, sing, or make Chateaubriand for two, I saw no point in all the excitement.
“I have to load some apps,” my son answered. His finger moved along the screen like he was Liberace and the iPad was his piano. Wait a minute … he was playing the piano! Beautiful music flowed from the tablet as the screen filled with keys. I murmured in appreciation. A few seconds later, he was strumming a guitar. Then he was drawing smiley faces. An hour flew by. Then another. And another. By this time, my son was playing a game. My daughter was sitting next to him. They were laughing together. And neither one was muttering, “Touch me and you’re dead.”
I was no rocket scientist, but suddenly it hit me. We had all been together in the same room for longer than three minutes and it wasn’t just because I had screamed, “There’s a man-eating spider hanging from the lamp shade!” (which really had happened a week earlier if you must know). I had reluctantly let this portable, scarily thin creature into my house thinking it would pull us apart. But instead, the iPad had done exactly the opposite—it had brought us together. We were a family again.
Decades ago when the radio and television were invented, I imagine mothers worried, just as I did, that things would change. And they did. Families suddenly had something new to talk about—something new to enjoy together—and something that brought them into the same room every night and helped them realize all the reasons why they were a family in the first place.
Now if that iPad could just learn how to do “The Hustle,” I’d really be impressed.
By Vicky DeCoster – All Rights Reserved