Fasting at Starbucks (Thursday, April 24, 2013)
On the way here this morning, I was listening to NPR against my will when a story came on about a four-year-old girl who received psychiatric treatment because her parents took her iPad away. Apparently, she was inconsolable. The mother was the one being quietly interviewed. She said that her four-year-old daughter would listen to music, play PBS games and carry the iPad around like a security blanket. But for some crazy reason, she would throw a temper tantrum when it was time for one of her sisters to use it. In fact, all of the kids would be none-too-pleased to pass off the iPad, begging for a minute or two more to finish what they were doing. The mom got tired of hearing the arguments and opted to put the iPad on top of the fridge during the workweek. Now, she says, the kids don’t bother her as much. The house is quieter. All is right with the world. Right ?
I know that the story is supposed to elicit a chuckle from the audience, but I can’t help seeing this from the child’s perspective. I remember my “safety blanket” as a child, a stuffed moose named Bullwinkle. I couldn’t sleep without him. One day, I lost him. My parents searched for hours until he finally surfaced, in our mailbox. This was a stuffed animal. It wasn’t an engineering feat of addictiveness, but it was one of the most important things in my young life. It was like food, only bigger. Would I have been willing to share him? Probably not. Would I have gone balls-to-the-wall crazy if my parents put him on the refrigerator and only let me see him for a few hours on the weekend? Certainly, at first. But after a while, my young mind would probably grasp that it was out of my control. All that I’d be left with was a sense of loss. And a sense that loss was out of my control.
What would that mother do if someone took away her iPhone? What about her Yoga mat? What about her purse? What if they didn’t take it away outright, just put it somewhere she couldn’t get to it and restricted her access/ability to buy a new one. I think it’s a natural tendency for us to develop a sense of ownership over something that we love/interact with frequently. I’m not saying it’s enlightened, but how much more enlightened do you think the mom is than the four-year-old, really? I think we’re all pretty terrible at dealing with forced deprivation. Let’s at least be adult about it. O_0
In other news, I met Kate Flannery (Meredith from The Office) today!