My name is not Siri, I’m not Alexa, nor am I your whole frontal cortex.
YOU figure it out.
It’s partially my own (un)doing, this learned helplessness I’ve created. My husband says I should take this as a compliment, but that’s only because he’s not responsible for 90% of the family’s executive functioning. His cognitive load of family management pull typically hovers around 10%. He’s got lots of grey matter free to roam, 90% more than I feel like I do anyway. My husband says I should think of it like, “Wow, we all think you’re so smart that naturally you’ll know all the answers to every single one of the questions we ask throughout the day.”
Mmm-hmm. But that’s a load and he knew it, grinning sardonically at me even as he spoke the words.
Part of my work as an SLP is to help children develop reasoning skills, to develop strategies to ask and answer questions, to manipulate information meaningfully and apply it to communicate in a functional, effective manner. Somehow I’ve managed both to under- and over-therapize my family by nature of my academic training, and now it’s, as the saying goes, biting me in the booty. They have one strategy, and it’s a good one, effective and successful almost all the time: mom.
This blog post was inspired, or maybe the opposite of inspired, what’s that?–last night shortly before the start of Survivor, the mother of all reality television shows, and one that we have watched as a family for several years now. Boy Child asks, “Mom, what channel is Survivor on?”
Actually, back the train up for a second. Shortly before this, my son asked me one his 482 questions per day–its matter not critical enough that I can even recall what it was twelve hours later–but I Googled the answer, and reported back about my findings.
*crickets chirping from the peanut gallery*
Blown off, I erupted, disproportionately pissed off, and decided rashly (as all sound parenting decisions are made, naturally) that I was done being the family’s answer generator.
Hmmmm. . . if only there were a device that, at your fingertips, could access all the information the world has to offer. OH WAIT! THERE IS AND YOU HAVE ONE. And its name is not Wendy or Mom, it’s your iPhone, and it can–wait for it. . . ACCESS THE INTERNET.
I’m moderately proficient with technology, I do have a natural curiosity, and my brain is crazy-full-up with random bits of trivia. You totally want me on your trivia team, you do! But I can’t be, no, I won’t be everyone’s answer gal. Throne abdicated.
“But Mom, I asked nicely,” came the reply from Boy Child. Yeah, you did, but I feel like navigating the TV remote is a job you can problem-solve on your own from this day forward.
I have this look (glare?) that simultaneously captures frustration, exasperation, and OMG! I’m not saying it’s an expression I’d ever want to take on the receiving end, but it’s now my I’m not answering this question for you face.
I can’t help but think I do deserve that face back for letting things get here. My husband had to close an email account because he forgot the password AND his password recovery options AND his own answers to his secret questions, as if somehow the computer was supposed to know what his favorite song in 1992 was. Oh, and guess who created his replacement gmail account? Yep.
Neither child knows how to connect his PlayStation or Nintendo Switch. Netflix? DirecTV? Print something?? That’s OK, I’ll just stare st a blank wall, thanks. You don’t expect ME to set it up, do you?
You know what? Yeah, I do. The only way I came in possession of my “tech sense” was by Googling question after question and working through solutions until I figured out a fix to whatever problem I’d faced. I know next to nothing, but my pile of next to nothing is Technology Mount Everest in our home.
Boys, you are intelligent, imaginative creatures! You’re clever. Your achievement is above average, decently above. You make me laugh. You make me proud. And you make me nuts when you give it less than your all. Always give it your all. Don’t let someone else steer when you’re driving. Even when it seems as inconsequential as asking your mom a thousand questions I am sure you don’t even know you ask. Keep asking! But start and keep seeking. That’s the big takeaway here, OK?
Rash may have been the decision mid-eye roll, but in the long run, wise, really. For them.