by Steve Calechman
I was on Jeopardy 12 years ago. I studied hard, answered the final question correctly and came in a dynamic second, winning a trip to France for my effort. Overall, not a bad experience, and I’m glad that I had it when I did because I have never been stupider in my life than I am right now.
I have many daily fears, the greatest one being that someone will ask me about Syria. I know that it’s a country – Jeopardy, remember? – and that there’s some sort of unrest. After that, I’ve got nothing. A few years ago, I would have started a debate at the gym because I would have been decently versed and had no particular place to be for three hours. Now, on a good day, I can offer, “Saw the headline,” hoping my conviction will fake me through five minutes of a conversation.
It’s not that my wife, Jenny, and I are cut off from society. We have cable, smartphones and get the paper delivered daily, none of which are used even partially in the name of keeping up.
I put the blame on Milo, our 23-month-old, who’s not one for sitting still or allowing a newspaper to remain unstrewn. Add to that the fact that my home office, as I’ve mentioned in earlier columns, is an office without a door. It’s not a bad situation, if you never want any privacy or a place to escape to and appear busy while perusing news feeds.
The bigger contributor to our dumbness is that we’re supposed to be protective of Milo’s brain development. I suppose that’s a viable concern, and according to the weekly missives that I get from parenting resources, screen time should be avoided until age 2, unless of course it’s the hockey playoffs, which is then considered an educational opportunity. (I might have added that last part.)
I’m all for sacrificing my own brain for the sake of Milo’s. Television is nice and fun; its news is equally frothy, so ultimately it’s no great loss. Still, it’s a source of information and limited access means limited conversation subjects.
I’ve come to understand that parents only talk to other parents … and focus on sleeping patterns, staircases and eating habits because those are our areas of expertise for more than four sentences.
It might be good to tweak this balance and occasionally bring in the outside world. The parenting resources could actually be part of the solution on this one. I appreciate the article asking if biting your child is ever a good thing – my guess would be “no,” didn’t have time to read that one. But it wouldn’t be overly didactic to include links to current stories, offering full-length and condensed playground attention-span versions. I’m willing to bet that a large demographic would pay for such a service.
Then again, maybe it wouldn’t. Really, what do I know?
Steve Calechman is a freelance writer, stand-up comedian and dad in Salem.