Tonawanda News

April 4, 2013

No one said it would be easy

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The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Go ahead, tell us how you really feel, boss.

My first reaction upon reading Eric DuVall’s column on page 5A of the Wednesday Tonawanda News was amusement. Then annoyance. And then ... agreement. 

A cellphone isn’t a parenting device. The thought that it’s being marketed as one is amusing until you realize that people, no doubt, take it seriously. And that’s a column in and of itself, how so much marketing out there treats parents as individuals who are desperate to get out of the role (usually mothers) — or hapless idiots (usually fathers). I can’t deny I occasionally feel the urge to lock myself in the bathroom so I can read a book in peace for five minutes, but I went into this parenthood thing with my eyes open. No one ever said it would be easy.

As technology becomes more and more accessible to the rugrats among us, it becomes just one more parental debate. How much? What sort? When?

Am I blameless? I guess not. I freely admit that I recently purchased an iPod Touch with the express intent of co-owning it with my elder son ... and thereby entertaining him on an upcoming airplane flight. 

But in the end, it’s not about the technology. It’s about the parents.

An airplane isn’t a coffee shop. No matter how bad my coffee jones is (and the addiction is considerable), I don’t need to be at a coffee shop. I especially don’t need to sit and sip while my kids are left to their own devices. (Pun intended.) And no matter how well-behaved the child, any 4-year-old ignored and bored is going to start getting restless.

I’ve been to coffee shops with one kid or another (usually the Dunkin’ or Timmy’s varieties), but when I do, it’s on purpose. We get a treat. We sit. We talk about the trials of pre-K, or the varying merits of glazed vs. filled, or what the popular movie of the day is with the elementary-school set. You know, actual interaction. That’s how kids learn to sit still and handle themselves in a social situation, after all.

On the other hand, a coffee shop isn’t an airplane. One’s a closed environment with a captive audience and a bunch of people who just want to get from one place to another in relative peace. You can’t just march the kid out to the car if he gets restless. If a few of their favorite videos or songs keeps them occupied for that time, then you’re darned right I’m going to make use of it. You’re welcome. (We also have a backpack full of books, crayons and paper, too. How is that different?)

Ultimately, though, parenthood is messy. It’s frustrating. Oh yeah, it’s time-consuming. And it sure as heck isn’t easy.

And if you’re buying into the idea that a cellphone can make it all go away ... you’re doing it wrong.

•••

After about 10 years working at the Tonawanda News — albeit not all of it in the newsroom — and nearly about the same amount of time living in the Town of Tonawanda, I kept a fairly pessimistic eye on the Tonawanda Coke trial.

Quotes about “a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens” aside, I didn’t hold much hope that the verdict would mean anything. Surely, the corporate entity with all the money would win to one extent or another. Isn’t that how the system works?

I was wrong.

So, congratulations to the little guys, to all the men and women who worked so hard to hold a corporate polluter responsible for its actions. You won. You changed things. You set a precedent that will echo down through the years for all of those who’ve been watching your battle.

You give all of us hope.

Jill Keppeler is a writer for the Tonawanda News. She can be reached at jill.keppeler@tonawanda-news.com.