Sunday, September 26, 2010

When the VCR strikes midnight on tech efficiency

It’s official: We’ve become our parents. As of last night, 8:46 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, Craig and I came face-to-face with the harsh reality that our oldest child has surpassed our abilities in the technological realm.

A few weeks ago, back when we were still comfortably ensconced in denial, Craig and I bought a Wii game console. Our 14-year-old son Nathaniel was so eager to play that he set it up for us before we even had it out of the box. We could have set it up ourselves, mind you, but we decided to toss him a bone and let him do it for us.

Then last night, my husband bought a Wii Resort game and confidently told our 8-year-old daughter that they could play it when they got home. But when he went to set up the game with the new remote he couldn’t figure out how to hook up the remote to the console.

An hour into the exercise I heard Lily say, “Dad, are you ready to play Wii with me?”
“No honey,” he called. “To be honest, I’m just killing time until your brother gets home from practice to set it up.”

That one statement took me back to a time in 1991 at Craig’s parents’ house in Ohio. Once again, Craig and I were going over the basics of how to re-set the VCR clock when it blinks 12:00. As we went through the sequence of buttons, his parents looked at us as if we were speaking Greek to them.

“How long has it been blinking?” I asked.

“Oh, since Craig went back to school last semester,” his mom said.

He had gone back to school three months earlier. I wondered, “Are these people incapable of handling a VCR without their son around?”

And now here we were, anxiously awaiting the arrival of our teenage son to get us out of our own technological jam.

When Nathaniel got home from band practice Craig explained the situation, and before he could even finish explaining the situation, Nathaniel was already working his magic. In TWO MINUTES (we timed him) he had it up and running. He fixed us with a long stare and said “What is WRONG with you guys?”

The problem, it appeared, was that Craig hadn’t turned the console ON.

“Don’t look at me,” I said, trying to save face. “It was your dad trying to do it. I just married him.”

Nathaniel gave me a withering look, quite possibly because he had recently gotten me out of a similar bind when I couldn’t figure out how to make a smiley face when sending a text.

I tell you, that kid continues to increase in value when it comes to helping us navigate our way through these newfangled technologies. He’s like an in-house tech support 24/7. He is going to be on my speed dial forever.

That is, just as soon as he shows me how to set up a speed dial on my cell phone.

Eileen Burmeister lives, works and fixes the blinking 12:00 on her microwave in Roseburg. She can be reached at

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