You know you have become your parents when…
You break down and ask your child to help you with the computer
The exact age when you become your parents and your child has to help you with your computer, tablet or smartphone, is 46.
I could say the boys down at Dad-on-Board Labs have been conducting research and this is the number that they came up with, but in reality I think the lobe of my brain that remembers how to fix computers has gone dim.
The change – the passing of the technological torch – is a little humbling, mainly because of how it happened.
I was doing some very important work (read: messing around) with my iPad one recent afternoon. I skipped across a number of apps – Facebook, Twitter, checked a few web sites – and decided it was time to try out an app designed to assist in some very serious work by making me much more productive. If I remember correctly it had something to do with disgruntled ornithological creatures.
For some reason, there was no sound coming out of the iPad.
My daughter had been playing with it earlier, so of course I had a ready-made scapegoat. Because what are our children if not convenient excuses when we can't get the stupid computer to work?
I turned it on and off, looked through the system preferences and turned the audio up and down over and over again because if I turn it all the way up just one more time, it should work after the seventh attempt. Still nothing.
I knew at that moment that I was about to enter a world I could not come back from. I was about to ask my kid for computer help.
“Hey, there's no sound coming out of this,” I said, waving the tablet around in the air. “Did you make the noise go away?”
I was aging by the moment now. Then I said it.
“Can you help me with this?”
My 10-year-old walked across the room, leaned over the tablet, pushed some button or something and the room was instantly filled with the sounds of Angry Birds streaking across the sky and smashing into pigs. It was glorious. And humbling.
She smiled. I knew that smile. It was meant to convey “there you go,” but behind it was “please stop asking me to fix this if you're going to keep breaking it.”
The most disconcerting part about all this is that my wife and I are what most people would consider to be “early adopters.” I started on computer bulletin-boards in the late 80s, got onto the internet by 1993 (though the dial-up numbers were long distance back then and it resulted in a phone bill that made me prematurely gray – and may I add sub-parenthetically that it cost a lot of money to check your email back then, especially when no one else had it) and was shooting down TIE Fighters in my apartment on a new VGA monitor.
To my daughter: I'm sorry, but I think it's your duty to keep me connected in my older years. To my parents: Sorry for The Smile.
Bill Burke is a writer who lives in southern New Hampshire with his wife and daughter. Wait, I hit 'control-S' to save, right? Hold on, I have to get my daughter.