The Connected Family

In a family with four kids and two adults, at any given time of day or night there are a multitude of electronic units recharging themselves in my home. Between BlackBerrys, hand-held gaming units, video cameras, digital cameras, toothbrushes, and the occasional ill-advised noisy toy, our outlets are jam packed with cords leading to devices we had no idea we needed before we  acquired them (like children).
Do we need all of them? Well, who can live without a BlackBerry? Not me. And my dentist tells me I have to use an electric toothbrush. And my own common sense tells me for my own mental health and their social status the children need to have their hand-held gaming units. And I really should be camera-ready to take photos of them doing things like school plays, getting awards, and picking their nose, lest they think I’m not paying attention while I’m on the last remaining battery bars of my BlackBerry. Plus, it’s the only way I can get those urgent BBM messages from my university daughter, such as “How do you make grilled cheese?” or texts from my high school son that start with “If the school calls.…”
Maybe I’m spending too much time focusing on the things that are easy to recharge. Things like my own mental and physical energy are somewhat harder to energize. It’s hard for me, for  instance, to find the energy to play Hot Wheels when I’ve got a mountain of work to do, 27 telephone calls to return (and the portable telephone’s battery is dead), a flashing light on my BlackBerry begging me to respond, and a fabulous new chick-lit book waiting to be read. My mind just can’t stay on the instructions for the Thunder Mountain Express Ramp I’m supposed to be building.

Likewise, when I sit down and help with homework at the end of a long day, I honestly have to use every resource available to pull up the patience and focus required to get through the eight times tables or quiz someone on the capital cities of each province and territory — which aren’t the same since I was a child.
Oh sure, I have loads of energy for the things that interest me — you know, spending time with girlfriends, catching up on Twitter or Facebook (on a newly charged BlackBerry), or simply gazing at a picture of Daniel Craig.
But there are things that I never have enough energy for:
• Knowing the evolved state of any frigging Pokemon, its special powers, and whether I should like it or not.
• Transforming a Transformer, in the presence of a person (child) you’re not supposed to swear in front of.
• Cutting the sandwiches in the “right” way and putting them on the “right” plate or else they just don’t taste the same.
• Scraping tomato sauce off of pizza for that very precious child down the block who always seems to be at your house ON PIZZA NIGHT.
• Rewinding that Star Wars VCR tape to just the right spot for that very special battle. Or, in my husband’s case, where Princess Leia is wearing the slave outfit. Never gets old, apparently.
While I don’t have the time (or ironically, the energy) to find a way to automatically charge up for these activities, what I can do is avoid having to do them at all by simply stating that I’m busy recharging the camera for that next special child event. Or shopping for a new power cord.

Kathy Buckworth’s latest book, Shut Up and Eat: Tales of Chicken, Children and Chardonnay, is available at bookstores everywhere.
Follow Kathy on twitter at www.twitter.com/kathybuckworth.

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