Monday, February 2, 2009


As a kid, the index finger lifted slightly over the steering wheel while driving, was a form of communication. Between two precariously passing farmers on a narrow dirt road, it might mean--"surely this path is big enough for both of us?" or "what's the warrenty on your truck?" The downtown cafe was notoriously crowded at the crack of dawn each morning, where the locals gathered to talk weather, peanut prices, or what the neighbor had worn to Friday night's basketball game. I think about this as Spitfire, freshly annointed five-years-old from a rousing bounce-house party extravaganza, sits with a friend from next door awaiting gourmet chicken nuggets from our kitchen (a product of my microwave expertise, since Dart Guy makes most of his stuff from scratch to show me up). At her age, I lived a fair distance from any of my friends, and the internet was still just a speck of an idea in Al Gore's mind (lol). I couldn't jump on Facebook and see what the whole world was up to, or send a text message containing highly evolved acronyms to my best friend. I had dogs and cats and my sister and a very large blank slate out my back door. Friends had to come over to visit or I was stuck creating strange imaginary worlds in my favorite stand of trees behind our house (which, quite possibly, explains a lot). I think social networking on the internet, email, and text messaging is just fine, and, believe me, I do my share. It's a very useful way to stay in touch in this age of far-off families and loosely, connected suburban communities in which few people really know their neighbors. But I do worry about my kids growing up in this age of digital communication, what it will mean for their friendships and other relationships they will form. For the moment, I am extremely grateful that she can walk out her front door on many days of the week and yell across to one of her good friends, whom she can see, face to face, and exchange a hearty hug with, given both fickle preschool hearts can agree to do that.
Just before the nuggets are finished, I ask the girls what they would like to eat along with them (carrots? corn?) as they play a cool new game from Spitfire's birthday, called "Guess Who?" at the dinner table. They reply, "ketchup!" in unison, which I think is a sure sign that, although a generation and multiple advances in communication separate us, some things remain the same.

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