Monday, November 21, 2011

Rockin' Fatherhood Electronically

The other day GoofBoy received several calls from a friend who was in a panic because he had left his workbook at home. The friend was asking if we could fax him the workbook pages he needed. There were two problems with this. The lesser problem was that GoofBoy had already done his homework so we would be faxing the answers. The second problem was that I hate our fax machine (almost as much as I hate our photo printers.)

I was pretty sure that the process that would begin by tearing pages out of GoofBoy’s workbook and then involve waking up the hamsters that power our antique fax machine was going devour the rest of my night, and probably end in tears (possibly mine) when I (or the hamsters) inevitably destroyed GoofBoy’s homework and ensured that GoofBoy’s friend didn’t get the assignment either.

But I had a brainstorm. Using sticky-notes I covered GoofBoy’s answers and snapped pictures with my phone. One app allows me to turn everything black & white. Another app allowed me to fax it directly from my phone! It cost a dollar, but that was money well spent if it allowed the fax-rodents to continue their slumber. GoofBoy’s friend’s mom (a way smart, high-powered attorney) called me and thanked me. I told her how I had sent it straight from my phone and she was impressed. Plus, she agreed to host GoofBoy for a playdate.

This afternoon, GoofBoy came home started on his homework and began wailing like a manatee. He had left the book he needed to read and summarize for class at school.

First thought was to run to the library and check out a copy. But it is kind of dreary out. Quick visit to Amazon and the book was on my iPad and GoofBoy is good to go!

Kindle copy of The Magician’s Elephant - $6.44. Not having to run out on a cold wet night while still getting a blog entry out of it - priceless.

I remember my parents scrambling to get things for my homework (although these memories are vague and I stopped doing homework by the age 10.) Electronics just makes all of this much, much easier. No last minute drives, no trips to the baroque library photocopier (run by cousins of the hamsters in my fax) – this is all good.

I have a nagging worry (and really, is there any other kind?) Does all of this innovative, super convenient electronically aided parenting allow us to shield our kids from the consequences of their actions?

That seems like an awful big burden to put on little kids. It is still good that they can come to a grown-up who can make everything all right. And for me, honestly, it is nice to be the dad and know that at least sometimes I can make things all right.

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