In my never-ending quest to prepare my sons for the real world, now re-branded The Daring Quest, I have spent countless hours teaching them how to operate a television remote. Holding the flipper in the palm of your hand and manipulating the controls with your thumb while stretched out on the couch watching “Man vs. Wild” or “The Brady Bunch Movie”-this is a lifelong learning skill I feel confident my sons will use all their days. And my daughter too. Now in college, Annie can handle a remote with the skill of an expert.
This morning, while playing on an old laptop of mine, Hank discovered a 2005 journal entry in which I talked about teaching Gabe, then four years old, how to use a remote. Here is what I said:
The flipper is our name for the TV remote. Gabe wanted to turn on the TV and video and I was trying to teach him how to do it. The top of the remote says “Mute” and “Power” and some other words. I said to him, “Find the P. Where’s the P word?”
“The P word?” he asked.
“There it is: Power,” I said. “That’s why you learn to read. So you can work the flipper.”
I actually said that: “That’s why you learn to read. So you can work the flipper.” Around this same time, apparently during a sterling period in my career, I also noted this in my journal:
I mopped the floor this morning to feel useful and productive. That’s how bad it’s gotten for me: I’m mopping the floors to feel useful. I have been developing my floor mopping techniques, however. I’ve used powdered cleansers in the past. Put a heap in a bucket, add water, and mop. But I find that they, or at least the one I used, did not leave the floor with much of a shine. Now I use a liquid cleanser. It seems to give the floors a bit more luster. [AND HERE IS THE RELEVANT PART OF ALL THIS…] I mopped the kitchen and three bathroom floors this morning, while Gabe practiced his reading while using the TV remote.
You’re not sticking your children in front of the TV. You’re giving them a chance to practice their reading while they operate the remote, allowing you to do something else in the house. And I sincerely hope that something else is not mopping.