It was the new Apple watch that did it. And let me just say, I couldn’t be happier.
When I was growing up, I knew, as did every other child in my school, that the future was going to be awesome. You already know the parts about how we all thought we’d have flying cars and jetpacks and robot housekeepers just like The Jetsons on TV. But more than that, we also believed we were going to change the world. The details were always a little sketchy, no one seemed to know exactly how we were going to change the world, but that didn’t matter. We were going to fly in on our jetpacks and make a better tomorrow for us all.
Now don’t get me wrong. I think the internet is great and though I never use Facetime on my phone, I do, in fact, have the ability to make a call and see that person on a screen while we speak. Oh, and my wife and I have a son who’s black and I’m pretty sure that back when my parents were young that would have raised a whole lot more eyebrows than it does now. Oh, and it’s also true that for many years, my job title was, “Trophy Husband.” My wife is the wage earner in our family while I stayed home and raised the kids, did the laundry, cooked, cleaned and drove my children to practices and lessons galore. So, yeah, that part of the future, the part where men and women have more freedom to do what’s right for them and not just what society dictates, that did get a whole lot better. Plus, TV is way better than it was. I mean, once I was telling Clay, Grace and Nati about how there was this show on called The Love Boat, which nobody liked, but which ran for ten years. Terrible, awful show. And one of my kids said, ‘well then if nobody liked it, why did people keep watching?’ to which I replied, “uh….it was the only thing on.” I mean, seriously, if you are under 25, you may not know this, but people used to watch test patterns on Sunday mornings till the cartoons came on. We didn’t have a whole channel for cartoons! We lived like animals!
But I digress.
The new apple watch looks stupid. I know, I know, I’m going to wind up buying it one day and I’m sure it’ll be life changing and all that, but right now, I don’t get it. It doesn’t do anything my phone doesn’t already do, and to use it I have to have my phone in my pocket, and for what? So I can see a record of my pulse? So I can see texts by glancing at my wrist? Feh. Yes, that’s right. Feh.
At this point in my life, I have attended quite a few ceremonies. I have seen my kids graduate pre-school and kindergarten and elementary school and in the case of my eldest, High School as well. I have attended ceremonies marking the end of flag football seasons and Summer Camps and art school classes and in every single one of those ceremonies, I have heard some well meaning adult say to my children and their friends, “You are the future. You must be the change you seek. You must create a better world. Dare to dream! Soar to new places! Climb every mountain! Make a better tomorrow, today!” And to this I say what I say to the Apple watch; feh.
That we live in a society that is growing more and more tolerant and just is a good thing. As a Jewish man raising an Ethiopian son I’d be an idiot to say that things are not moving, however slowly, in the right direction. But one of the downsides of all those inspirational speeches is the rise of the uber-parent (and no, I don’t mean the parent who lets their kids take an uber taxi home from a party. I mean the other kind of uber parent.) The uber parent is the one who makes you feel ashamed because you don’t bake your own bread or because your child couldn’t read in vitro or because your kid isn’t able to study calculus while taking their cello lesson with their French tutor. Now, if your child is that kind of awesome person, if they love studying modern dance while both creating ice sculptures and working on the cure for the plague, more power to them and to you for supporting them. But usually, what I find myself thinking when I hear an uber-parent describing their uber-child is, ‘well, yeah, but what’s next?’ It’s great if your kid can read when they’re two, but all of their classmates will be reading in a few years anyway. It’s impossible not to be proud when your toddler uses impressive language at early age, I still beam when I think of Clay, at the age of three asking me if I thought his hat made him look ‘distinguished’ but eventually most everyone learns all the same words, so what’s the rush?
The rush, I think, is towards that future that we like to believe is coming. We want so to believe that our kids will live in a world so unlike anything we can imagine, that we push and prod them in the vain hope that they will somehow transcend the human experience.
Consider The Jetsons. Yes, they have a robot maid and yes they have cars that fly, but if I remember my cartoon history, the father in the show flies his car to a job that’s sort of hard and his kids are still teenagers who think he’s sort of an idiot, flying car or not. People are people. Life is life. The Apple watch is stupid.
And I think that’s great.
Because if in the future people are still going to be just, well, people, than maybe we can all relax a bit. If you’re kid doesn’t seem to have the visionary insights of Leonardo Da Vinci and Steve Job’s love child, don’t worry. If you do everything right with your child, they will still just grow up to have good and bad days with their spouse, hard and easy days at work, and crappy watches that do nothing but tell them they haven’t walked enough since breakfast. The future may look a lot like the present. And if it does, then we might as well go ahead and enjoy the present before it becomes the past.
The new giant iPhone though….those look freaking awesome.