It is said that in the olden days little girls were made of sugar and spice and all that’s nice while little boys were made of frogs and snails and puppy dog tails. Obviously somewhere along the line, the formula got jumbled up and in today’s day and age, both girls and boys are made out of grey cells that are far advanced than ours ever were. Indeed, without sounding like a doting grandmother, I’d like to believe that kids today are wired differently.
I used to think my little girls were normal and average and can never forget the wonder with which my own grandmother looked at my newborn and found that her little fists weren’t clenched tight. I wondered why that was so surprising. Weren’t all children born with open fists? No she told me emphatically, little babies kept their fists shut tight for a whole month. And they opened their eyes just a peep after a whole week! I dismissed her awe of my children as the delirium of a doting great grand mother, but when I became a grandma, I realized that all mothers soon forget what their own children were all about and approach their grandchildren with something akin to awe. I mean who could be smarter, prettier, handsomer, and cuter than our own little grandchild??? And when the child in question is another generation removed, the attributes become even more exaggerated.
But without sounding like a typical grandmother, I would like to say that in the past one year I’ve observed that it is not only my grandchild but the entire generation that is wired differently. In fact, I don’t have to go as far as my grandchild but just a generation below me thirty years apart to find a real generation gap. I remember the whole family used to talk about my young niece (who’s almost four decades younger than me) who spent a major part of her adolescence posing in front of her cellphone camera. As she clicked picture after picture of herself and posted it up on Facebook almost instantly I, at least, used to think it was a complete waste of time and what a useless skill to acquire. Then when I had to send in a picture of myself, I discovered how difficult it was to take a selfie. Indeed, I envied my niece’s confidence and expertise as she could effortlessly produce one stunner after another while all that I could manage at best was a fuzzy semblance of myself with the focus largely on my multiple chins and my eyes framed by my reading glasses! And when I asked the young lady for some tips for the perfect selfie, she just shrugged and said “Oh it’s nothing. See how easy it is,” and she’d quickly whipped out her phone, gave it one sultry look and voila – she had yet another dazzler at her fingertips.
Apart from knowing instinctively how to pose for the perfect picture, these children also know how to say the most with the least words thanks to their increased use of limited characters in messaging. And their instinctive skill extends over other technology too – cell phones, computers, cameras and any gizmo which they set their eyes on.
Within seconds, they have things sorted out and if you truly want to be acquainted with every feature of your latest gadget, just grab a young teen and within moments he’ll figure it out. Of course asking him to tell you what he’s done is another story because he will just say “Oh it’s so easy” and leave you with a whole heap of mumbled directions that you soon forget. Indeed, I realized how differently these kids are wired when Little P my one year old grandson approached every screen/monitor with the ease of a seasoned professional and would gently swipe it in the hope that it would change or come to life.
Similarly, I found that if I kept a mobile phone in front of him, he would hold it with both hands and start thumbing it. So different from me who would hold the phone in one hand and start typing or keying in with the index finger of the other! I also found this little tyke completely at home in front of a keyboard and instinctively knew how to put the headphones on his ears and move the cursor with the mouse. And no I am not exaggerating; it is purely instinctive because my grandson doesn’t watch me on the computer. In fact he is not allowed anywhere near any screen, tv or iPad.
So I can honestly say that his approach to technology is purely instinctive. (Sadly we can’t keep him away from the mobile phone simply because if it is kept out of his reach and beyond our line of vision, we forget where we’ve kept it!) And yes, I agree : he is not the only one who is so smart because there are hundreds and thousands of little ones the world over who know that machines can be operated remotely and that you can get from A to B with the press of a button simply because they are wired differently.
As a mother of two thirty-year old daughters and a grandmother of a nineteen week old grandson, Sunita Rajwade has been there and done that. A hands on mom, she has seen two girls grow successfully through babyhood, toddler hood, adolescence and adulthood; solving their maths problems and contributing to their angst of growing up with a mom “who doesn’t understand”. But now as a grandmother, she’s being appreciated for her “wisdom” and “understanding” and would like to share my experiences of this wonderful journey from motherhood to grandmotherhood.