Article

A Conversation with Alfredo (Pai)

conversations with hank

 

Me: (kids asleep, cleaning off the dinning room table, encountering Hank’s new (to him) iPhone, visibly annoyed)

Alfredo: (noticing) I know you don’t agree with me.

Me: An iPhone, Alfredo? No, I do not agree. He is eight. I mean… I just…

Alfredo: It was something I wanted to give to my son.

Me: The Xbox was justifiable because it was for BOTH of your birthdays and you have every right to buy your son a present, but I hate this (picking up the phone as if it were rotting fish). There are some things you need to grow into and to me this sets a precedence of privilege.

Alfredo: Hank has spent the past year watching every single tech video published on YouTube about iPhones. He has watched every advertisement, hack, review, and repair how-to. He studies catalogues and electronics magazines. Everyday Hank comes to me with questions and information and things I can do to improve my iPhone experience. Technology isn’t going away and I was able to buy a used iPhone 4 and give it to my son to support his interests.

Me: (listening, still not convinced)

Alfredo: If Hank was interested in oil painting you would have spent the same amount of money on art supplies.

Me: (convinced) Truth.

Alfredo: Just because you don’t like his interests, don’t deny them.

Me: (deep breath)

Alfredo: Don’t look at this iPhone as sign of privilege look at it as a sketchpad or paints or clay. This phone isn’t a status for him… I mean I know he will brag about it at school, but he is showing signs that he is a tech guy. And just like you put a crayon in his hand when he was one and art helped him to communicate and still does this phone is the same as that crayon for me and for him.

Me: (letting the truth wash over me) I hear you, (annoyance returning) but since this brick has entered the house he has been sassy and argumentative…

Alfredo: There will be some adjustment and some rules that need to be firmly put in place. He is excited and will binge a bit, but we will help him settle. This weekend we will buy a beautiful bowl for the center of the table and all of us will put our phones in that bowl for dinner and when we all need a break from technology.

Me: (hurrumph)

Alfredo: (putting his arm around my shoulders) What is it you always say, “you have to be kind to yourself when learning something new?” We will be kind to you and you also need to be kind to us while we find a balance.

Me: (leaning into the hug)

Alfredo:

Me: (the real reasons rising to the surface) I didn’t know I wasn’t ready for him to grow up. He is putting aside childish things. He is all homework and screen time and…

Alfredo: And less magic and fairies and imagination?

Me: (emotional, nodding)

Alfredo: He will always be full of those things. You are his mother. He will never fully grow up. What do the t-shirts say, “growing up is a trap?” You taught him that. And he is far from growing up. It’s just a phone. It’s just an interest in gadgets.

Me: You’re right.

Alfredo: We have to support his passions. Who knows who he will become.

Me: (pause) Can I buy a really expensive, Vista Alegre, crystal bowl for the phones?

Alfredo: (smiling) I’ll think about your problem.