..Jon Simonds..

Parenting from the Past
The Basically Brooklyn Series

  Listen (15 seconds)

Parenting is not nearly as easy as it use to be. For example, when I was a youngster and asked a simple question like, "Dad, where do babies come from?" My dad gave me a perfectly logical explanation. "Remember when I took you with me to the Plymouth dealer to buy a new car? We went out and test-drove a few models. You sat in the back seat and played with the windows while I haggled with the salesman. Then we went into an office and I had to sign a lot of papers and you kept asking if we could go home yet?"

"Yeah," I said. "But where do babies come from?"
"Hospitals. Guys like us? We leave Mommy home, go to the car dealer and bring back a shiny new car. Mommies leave daddies home, go to the hospital and bring back a whiny new baby."

It seemed reasonable enough. We didn't have the world at our fingertips. We didn't even have color TV. It's different, today. When kids ask a parent a question, parents have to provide real answers. Children have the tools to answer all sorts of questions today, which means parents have to be smarter. There is no way for a parent to procrastinate on a question he, or she, does not know how to answer. So any self-respecting parent knows the answer to every question in the world is: "That's a good question. Let's look it up on the Internet."

Today's children have it all. In the 3rd grade, I had books to schlep home. Kids today have I-pads, laptops and smart-phones. They stop asking questions, because they possess the tools to answer them. So, I was really surprised when my son, for the first time in over a decade said, "Dad. I have to ask you a question."

It scared me. I thought he was in some kind of trouble. He's always using the Internet to find answers and even goes so far as to check on his sources. I wish he was that focused on his studies.
"What?" I finally asked.
"You know how every one always says, for Pete's sake?"
"Well who's Pete? I can't for the life of me figure out who this guy Pete is."
I was kind of dumbstruck. I had heard the expression all of my life and had never really thought about it.
"That's a good question," I said. "Let's look it up on the Internet."
But he already had. I sat up half the night thinking he must have missed something. In this technological age — everything has an answer, right?

The next morning at breakfast he asked if I had the answer.
I tore a page right out of my Dad's shiny new Plymouth with those whiny new babies.
"Listen," I said. "When you get into advanced European History you'll learn all about this Russian Tsar. His name was Peter the Great. Everybody loved him. Everything that country accomplished, it was done for..."

* * *