Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Monday, August 1, 2011

Kid Stuff: Parker's Private Benjamin Impersonation

We just returned from a family vacay - to a broken pipe under the house (thanks, Texas drought!), plus a busted washing machine and a television with no sound.  Washer is fifteen years old, so we are well overdue for an upgrade, but the television sticks in my craw, because: 
  1. This is the television that had no picture earlier in the year, and we agonized over whether to replace it or sink $200 in it to replace a teeny-tiny component.  Opted for the latter.  Translation:  we gambled and lost.  This only solidifies my general distrust of flat-screen televisions.  At the risk of sounding like an old geezer, give me a boxy television any day.  In my experience, boxy televisions are workhorses.  Long-in-the-tooth workhorses.  And put 'em in one of those walnut cabinets that make 'em look like furniture - you know, like your grandmother had in her family room?  Yeah, those suckers will last DECADES.  The flat-screen in our living room, not so much.  Five years, if that?  Meh.
  2. We got a call from our alarm company while we were on the road, advising us that our intrusion alarm was going off.  Husband told me not to panic, reminding me that one of our exterior doors can be temperamental, and if you don't lock it just right, it can spring back open.  Sure enough, that was the problem.  But, for a split second there, I was thinking, "Gosh, I hope we're not being robbed right now.  Not that they would linger very long, with the alarm going off, and there isn't much that's out and obvious, but they would get the living room TV for sure.  The one we just sank $200 into."  Yeah, no longer thinking that that scenario would have been that big of a disaster.  Sure, take the thing, buddy - but joke's on you, BECAUSE THE PIECE-O'-CRUD's got no sound!  Sorry, no refunds.
Anyway, I digress.  But I have to gripe, just a little, because there's nothing more depressing than coming home from a vacation (having just settled up with the rental car people - $340 - and the boarding kennel - $200) and IMMEDIATELY having to shell out:  $325 for a pipe repair; $190 for the dehumidifier that is now working overtime in our crawl space; $800 (estimated) for a new washer; and $? for a new television.  (We're considering our television options but leaning towards relocating the television from the master bedroom into the living room and gifting ourselves with a new set.  Probably a wall-mounted, flat-screen model THAT WILL BETRAY ME IN UNDER FIVE YEARS.  But it will free up SO much space on the bureau across from our bed, so . . . I'm RESIGNED, okay?  In the meantime, the eleven year-old future rocket scientist figured out how to hook up a laptop computer to the television and is playing the Wii, with sound, on the laptop.  I am not making this up.)

Did I mention the small fortune that I dropped at the premium outlet mall in San Marcos, en route to the first "official" stop of our Hill Country vacay, San Antonio?  "Official" is in quotes, because BELIEVE YOU ME the outlet mall was always on Mama's radar.  Specifically, I had high hopes for the Tory Burch outlet.  (Apparently, my reaction to the news of a Tory Burch outlet in San Marcos was so notable that the eleven year-old now gauges the strength of others' reactions to exciting news on the TBO (Tory Burch Outlet) Scale:  "Dad, when Kylie found out that she got into the Young Women's Leadership Academy, she was even more excited than Mom was when she found out that there is a Tory Burch outlet in San Marcos!")

TB turned out to be a disappointment - almost as much of a disappointment as a certain stupid flat-screen TV that died within five years and always looked blurry to me.  But I managed to console myself at Neiman's Last Call and Cole-Haan, so add - um - an unspecified but fairly substantial amount to the vacay week bill.

But this post isn't about me, and the two fabulous handbags that I scored in the Hill Country.  (GORGEOUS olive suede Alexis Hudson hobo, EIGHTY PERCENT OFF!  See, if you phrase it in terms of the discount, versus dollars spent, it's ever so much more palatable.)  This post is about my youngest child, who just DOES NOT GET THE POINT of going on a vacation.

Here are some snippets from our week on the road with Parker:

"Is 'Shark Week' this week or next?  Because if it's this week, then the hotel had better have cable.  Because I am NOT missing 'Shark Week' because of this vacation thing."

"So what's the big deal about the Riverwalk?   You just walk along the river, and - what?  What's the point?  I want to go back to the hotel."

"I'm tired of walking and looking at things.  I want to go back to the hotel."

(As we are driving past miles and miles of beautiful scenery)  "Can I play 'Brick Breaker' on your phone?"

(Standing in the spring-fed waters of Hamilton Pool, with catfish swarming around his legs in a crazy-cool fashion) "Um, the hotel has a POOL.  We could just swim there.  Or, you know, we could swim at home.  When are we going home again?"

When the time to go home mercifully arrived (for all of us - as irritated as Parker was about the concept of having to be outside and actually do things, the rest of us were equally irritated by the constant noise from the fountain o' whining), I made the mistake of mentioning on the drive north that only three weeks remained until school resumed:

"WHAT?  I have to go BACK?  But I went LAST YEAR, and I got really good grades, so shouldn't that be IT?"

Yeah, buddy, that was your problem.  You got really good grades, and they promoted you to first grade.  Rookie mistake.

Today I drove both boys to Camp Thurman - Connor's umpteenth summer at CT, but Parker's first.  And we were barely out of the driveway before Private Parker started asking questions:

"Does the camp have a television?


"So what do you DO all day if there's no television?

(Interestingly, you do the things that people do on TV.  You swim and climb and ride zip lines and shoot arrows.  It's all very interactive.  Like reality TV - but you're actually IN the program.  Try it, you might like it.)

Until now, I never gave much thought to how much time my youngest child spends in Virtual World.  And, in defense of myself and my spouse, I don't think that his television and computer usage is all that excessive, and it's certainly on par with his brother's usage.  But Child #1 was born in 1999 - pre-Facebook, and pre-smart phones.  If you wanted to fully participate in society, you had to venture out-of-doors occasionally.  Child #2 was born in 2004.  The entire world has been accessible to him, on-demand, from day one.  The River Walk may not impress him, because he has experienced the Great Wall of China in virtual reality, via computer.  His creative writing journal from kindergarten was filled with illustrated stories of the trips he has taken - like the trip to Mount Fuji.  The trip that exists solely in his mind, and in cyberspace.  But, based on the accompanying drawing, you would really think that he had been there.  And - in his little cyborg mind - he has.

So I guess we should forgive him for finding Texas' Enchanted Rock a little underwhelming in comparison to the real deal in Japan.  And - knowing my child as well as I do - I recognize that a lot of the griping is just for show.  That's just Parker being Parker.  I have no doubt that when everyone gets home this evening we'll learn that Parker was the life of the party and tore that campground up, top to bottom.

But I also have no doubt that when we get in the car tomorrow morning, I'll hear some version of:

"WHAT?  I have to go BACK?"

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