|Artwork by Mary Lee click to enlarge|
I have been thinking about how Google is really too good to be true for lazy parents like me. Three times this week my kids have asked me some questions:
1. When did Disneyworld get started?
2. How many people live in the United States?
3. Do black bears attack people as much as grizzly bears?
I had sort of a rough idea of the answer to these questions, but like most, parents I don’t know for sure (and I know I can’t fake it). Sometimes I don’t even have the slightest idea (and they know it).
So instead of saying, “I’ll have to get back to you on that,” or “Go ask your father,” I took the slacker Mom way out. I just said, “I don’t know. Google it.”
And they jumped on the computer and Googled all the questions and found their answers and a whole lot more than I could have told them. Simple. Easy. Too easy.
Sometimes when I’m feeling even more "slackerish" I tell them to read Wikipedia when they want a bunch of information on a certain topic. I figure if I do it, so should they. This is the Age of Finding Out Things Fast. Wikipedia is oh so fast and informative and fills my mind with meaningless trivia that I promptly forget. It’s sadly more entertaining that going to the library even. Never thought I'd say that.
I should feel OK about this practice, but I just can’t shake the knawing feeling that this is a big Mom copout on my part, and not exactly how I should be interacting with my children—at least not very much.
Yes, Googling things is quick, convenient and makes it so I can continue reading my novel on the couch or flipping through aromatherapy catalogs, but. . . . . it also limits the valuable connections and discussions I could potentially have with my children.
My Dad used to answer my questions by pretending he knew everything about the topic at hand and then somehow morphing the conversation into his own loosely formed connections. It was entertaining but not necessarily informative. I appreciate him now, even though I suffered through his long-windedness back then. I might give anything just to have one more of those conversations.
To the brown bear/grizzly bear question my children asked this week, I could have responded: “Well, I think it might be grizzly bears because they are bigger and stronger and seem to be more aggressive. We have a book about different kinds of bears. Remember what we saw in that pamphlet we got in Yellowstone Park last week? It talked all about this. I will see if I can find it.” Then I would have to get up off the couch.
That would have been the "non-slackerish" way to answer the question. It would have required eye contact in which I could have ascertained the general physical condition of the child, like if he or he needed to take a shower or change his clothes or brush his teeth.
If I am sitting on the couch absorbed in an Eddie Bauer summer sale catalog, however, I have no way of knowing these things and other important things like why they need this information. Is there a report due tomorrow or have they made a bet with a friend? Or are they so fascinated by this information that it may open up a lifetime of inquisitiveness and study that could lead to a career as a park ranger or wildlife biologist?
These are good things that parents should know, and can find out fairly easily if they pay attention and get up off the couch--especially slacker Moms like me!