Be it a boy or girl, coming of age is not a singular moment in time, but a process, a procession of sorts, by which innocent youth is replaced with whatever is to follow. I wrote about my son coming of age in a blog post (My Boy Is Coming Of Age) October 2006, it would seem the procession continues.
Like most parents, I want my children to “have it better than me” as they grow. Since the dawn of the 1900’s, each generation had to deal with new social models that complicated, not simplified, the process of raising our offspring. It’s unfair to compare how our parents raised us for that reason alone. When I was growing up we didn’t have a color television until I was about 16 years old, now we have color television on our cell phones. Our first video game was Pong, today we have sophisticated hand-held games that would have been considered futuristic, space age even. Computers were in huge rooms with complex cooling systems and only performed simple calculations, by today’s standards. Contrast that to the powerful netbooks that can crunch more numbers faster then the computer’s used to land men on the moon. I even remember purchasing a complex calculator for college that cost more than the netbooks I just mentioned.
I bought my son his first laptop in October of 2006, except for one missing key on the keyboard (it fell prey to his cats playful nature of walking on his keyboard when he wasn’t around) he has taken great care of his first real “coming of age” gift. I wish I could say the same regarding his cell phones. I can’t tell you how many times I received a call from him in which he confessed the fate of his current cell phone, then ended the call with a pleas for a replacement.
On balance, he’s a very responsible teenager, much like I was at his age.
The other day I bought my wife a new laptop, the one she purchased during her first visit to the States to meet me (June 2007) was no longer reliable. We thought her old one could be refurbished and sent off the my son, but after a quick trip to the local tech store the news of a refurbisment effort costing $450 dashed that idea. While lingering in the computer section my eye caught the Open Box specials, on the lowest shelf was a price tag just visible to my eye. I quickly stooped over to see a nicely configured laptop without a box and priced to sell! The price was half of it’s original cost, making this a extraordinarily good deal; and might I add, dramatically lower than fixing the old laptop. I walked out of the store with it tucked safely under my arm.
On the way home I called my son to tell him, he was nearly speechless! Then he asked “Why did you buy it for me?”, voice was full of suspicion. “Because I just wanted you to have a better laptop.” I replied.
Then the confirming words, the word that signaled sudden excitement, rang through the phone, “Ohhh… (pause) COOOOOL!”
He was fast at his computer, wanting to know every detail about the new one so he could look it up. “Who made it? What’s the model number? How much RAM? How big is the harddrive? ”
This is the point in time when the effort to “have it better than me” pays off for a father. He got his first laptop at 11 years of age, now nearly 15, he navigates the Internet, mining information as if he’d been born to it. And all because “have it better than me” was bearing fruits.
You will recall from my original post describing how he spoke of his mature plans for using the laptop, he sang a different song this time. Once he saw I’d preloaded my video editing software, he rattled on about his intent to VLOG (Video Blogging). I’m guessing vlogging is all the rage among his set. The only thing I saw him do with the built-in webcam was to see how fast he could create bizzare videos of himself and some of us standing near by.
Whatever it is that is replacing my son’s innocent youth, he still has an unbeguiled enthusiasm for living up to an ever changing image of himself completely of his own making. I think that is how it should be too, it’s how “have it better than me” was meant to work.
Thanks for reading this far.