A few nights ago, like most school nights, Kiddo wistfully eyed my iPad and asked for the gazillionth time why SHE (unlike apparently every single other 8-year-old in the world) does not have the privilege of owning her own tablet. Why SHE (unlike apparently every single other 8-year-old in the world) is not allowed to play on the computer at will, have her own e-mail address, or surf the web unsupervised. Why SHE (unlike ... youknowwhereI'mgoingwiththis) has to wait for the weekend to enjoy an hour a day of highly scrutinized and chaperoned mind-numbing games. Why her settings only allow her onto sites like IXL and BrainPopJr.
She didn't express it in quite those terms, but those very questions were reflecting back at me from her big blue pleading eyes as I answered "Because ..." and clambered wearily up the stairs.
As I swapped my heels and business suit for a comfy pair of sweats, a thought popped into my head. "Because life is the pits ..." This led to memories of delightedly discovering Erma Bombeck's book "If Life is a Bowl of Cherries What am I Doing in the Pits?" when I was about ten. This led to earlier memories of reading Erma Bombeck's advice column and cartoon strips (Hagar the Horrible, Beetle Bailey, Marmaduke, ...) every week as an expat child in Venezuela as my Dad would hand over the entertainment section of "The Daily Journal".
THAT was my weekend indulgence, the HIGHLIGHT of my week - the colorful weekend funnies! Waiting anxiously for my Dad to finish reading so I could catch up with the Peanuts' characters - what mission would the Red Baron set off on this weekend? - or try to finally 'get' the Dick Tracy plot.
I can remember those moments so vividly; some days I'd read right away, stealthily sneaking in a peek as I ate the French Toast my mom would make on weekends (trying desperately to look disinterested given the 'no reading at the table' rule).
Other times, I'd fold the funnies up and save them for an afternoon read. Then I'd grab the can of very expensive imported Cheez Balls my mom would buy at the Puerto Ordaz Delicatessen as a weekend treat and curl up on the couch, letting each ball melt slowly in my mouth as I tried to figure out the humor behind Blondie, and told myself I wasn't frightened by the blank orbs that made up Little Orphan Annie's eyes.
And in those wonderful memories I found one of those odd and extremely rare moments of justification and redemption as a mom. In those wonderful, simple memories I was able to wholly convince myself that sometimes I do make smart decisions as a mom. In those wonderful, redeeming memories, I was able to remind myself that sometimes having to wait for something - having to look forward to something, even the smallest something - is the best way to learn to appreciate something.
My child won't trail behind her classmates academically because she doesn't get a daily fix of Minecraft. She won't be unpopular because she hasn't been able to design a fashionable wardrobe on Toca Design this week. She won't be less sociable because she hasn't used a peashooter to blow off a zombie's head today. She won't end up illiterate because she read a hard copy of Matilda instead of reading Archie comics on a tablet or an online TabTales version of Rapunzel.
Kiddo's upstairs right now building a LegoFriends cruise ship. We haven't seen her or heard from her in the past three hours.
Yesterday, she went to a friend's birthday party at the Doha Aqua Park and came back bronzed and happy, full of tales and fully spent.
We watched Dances With Wolves last night as a family.
Some nights we play Frustration or work on a puzzle.
Her piano teacher tells us she's one of the most naturally gifted students she's worked with. She'll never be a prima ballerina, but once a week she carts off to ballet, and once a week she does her best to perfect her cartwheel at gymnastics. She's in a recycling club out of personal interest, and she's an avid reader.
So she doesn't own her own tablet or get to play on the computer every day ... life's not the pits. It's delicious. Like a bowl of cherries.
A bowl of cherries. In a sand pit. Glorious!
Kiddo will be ok. Even without her own personal tablet and .com address at age 8.