I am a child of the computer age. I still remember that magical day, not long before Christmas one year, when I accompanied my father on a trip to CompUSA. We purchased our very first computer, a Mac Classic. Before that my dad carried a Mac Plus to and from work almost every day, but it belonged to his employer. These memories surfaced as I was pondering the fact that Elena has never known and will never remember a time without powerful handheld computers. They display pictures and movies, play music, and connect us with the whole world all at once. It’s pure magic made mundane by ubiquity.
Although my iPod connects me to the world, sometimes it separates me from those who are closest. Elena’s not afraid to call me out on this. When she wants me to play with her and I remain distracted by the little screen, she’ll tug on my clothes and say “Daddy, you put iPod right here in pocket” while pointing at my pocket to make sure she gets her message across. This week I worked on not letting that happen. With Moonbeam arriving soon, Elena needs to know that she can capture and keep my undivided attention.
However, it’s more common for Elena to want me to take the iPod out of my pocket so that we can play with it. I won’t yield to her request every night, but about half the time we spend some time with it while we cuddle, just before she climbs into bed. Her favorite thing to do is look at pictures. She usually asks for pictures of herself and cousin Ginny but also likes other selections, especially those of herself and other members of her extended family.
Recently a second toddler appropriate activity has entered our repertoire. I found an activity for her to do–or maybe it’s a game for her to play. A voice instructs her to pick one of several shapes, and when she touches the right one there’s applause. After several correct answers, she gets to pick a ‘sticker’ to place on a scenic background. I think sometimes she knows which one is the right shape, but touches all the others first to see what will happen.
After we’re done with the game or pictures and put the iPod back in my pocket, Elena climbs into bed and I take on the role that iPods were originally designed to fulfill: personal music player. I sing through the playlist of her favorites, usually in order but sometimes on shuffle. Once in a while I’ll try a new song. If she likes it, she’ll add it to the playlist. There are about five songs in our regular rotation now–I’m afraid I don’t have the chops to add more.