Tag Archives: A life in progress

A Life in Progress | Sunday Morning Tech Lessons

LET ME BE CLEAR: I am not anti-technology. In fact, I’m an early adopter. I had a Mac in college when everyone still adored PCs. My first iPod had an actual wheel on it that you spun to find your music. As a kid, I had an Atari video game system that played only one game: Pong.

Technology is good. In general, it works to make our lives better not worse. I never want to be that old guy fighting technology with nostalgic tales to my grandchildren. “I remember walking barefoot to school both ways in the snow, without an iPhone 6, and so should you.”

With that backdrop, I have to admit when my children were still small I began to have second thoughts about how much they were starting to rely upon technology. When my oldest son was six, the water dispenser on our refrigerator broke. Walking right past the sink he asked with real concern, “But Daddy, how will I get water?”

When our youngest was still a toddler of two, his mother and I showed him my old family photo album. He loved seeing photos of me as a child but would try to “swipe right” with his finger on the plastic photo page to turn to a new photo. He was obviously more adept with an iPad photo album than with an actual photo album.

My final hesitation about tech involves great memories of our Friday family movie nights. When my teenagers were still young, we loved going to the video store to pick out two to three DVDs for the weekend. We would lay out blankets in the living room, eat popcorn and watch Shrek. These are some of my favorite family memories. A few years ago, I tried to recreate the old magic except with Netflix on-demand. What has changed in those few years since my teens were little is that we now have exponentially more screens in the house.

We started family movie night with the New Adventures of Scooby Doo. Minutes into the movie, one teen child was texting friends, one was scrolling through their Twitter feed, our eight-year-old was battling Bowser on his Nintendo DS while the three-year-old watched Scooby and the gang foil the evil plans of Old Man Withers. Even my wife and I were guilty of toggling from movie time to Facebook on our phones. Everyone was glued to their own personalized screen. The magic was gone.

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As sad as this turn of events is to me as a father, I honestly understand how hard it is in today’s world for kids to shut out technology. When I was in high school, there was a Radio Shack commercial that showed all of the great tech toys Santa may be delivering. The commercial panned through their store and showed a VCR, TV, phone, answering machine, computer, boom box, digital watch, video games, and a large, expensive video camera that weighed 20 pounds and sat on your shoulder. Today, all of this technology (and more) is in our phones. All of it!

It’s no wonder my children began asking to borrow my phone before they could even walk. I heard an interview recently where an author, speaking about technology and kids, referenced a college survey on whether students would prefer a broken phone or a broken bone. Forty-six percent chose the broken bone option. I don’t want my children to be sent to the island of misfit kids with broken bones and no iPhones, but I also want them to know what it’s like to entertain themselves without a screen.

Like most parents, we try to limit screen time and encourage playtime each day. One of the more ambitious things we have done is to set aside Sunday mornings as a screen-free time in our home. No TV, video games or internet until 1 p.m., which is conveniently the time NFL football kicks off (it pays to be the one setting the rules). They read, play games, swing on the playset – you know, all the things kids should do.

In setting aside Sunday morning as a tech-free time, I have learned a few unexpected lessons. First, I am usually the first one to turn on the TV at 1 p.m. sharp for football. Also, I am frequently guilty of “needing” to check my work email. And several times a morning, I have the strong urge to pick up my phone and scroll through the news or social media.

One Sunday last fall, I took my phone outside on the porch where I hoped I wouldn’t be noticed so that I could set my fantasy football roster on the ESPN app. I knew I was breaking the rules, but not having the right quarterback in a starting position is serious stuff.

My five-year-old walked onto the porch abruptly and – clearly enjoying the role reversal – corrected me with a wide grin, “Daddy! You’re not supposed to be on your phone. It’s not one o’clock yet.”

“You’re right. Daddy must have forgotten,” I lied. “I’ll put my phone away.” Walking back into the house and setting my phone on the counter, I realized the lesson about needing to regularly unplug is as much for me as for my children. I am the one that needs encouragement to pick up a book, listen to music or play chess with the kids. Apparently, my children are the ones teaching the lessons on Sunday mornings.

If I continue to be honest, I also feel a tinge of regret that my son caught me in my moment of tech weakness before I could move Tom Brady to my starting QB position. In the words of Old Man Withers from those Scooby Doo family movie nights, “And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for those meddling kids.”

A LIFE IN PROGRESS | A Fair and Balanced View of My Facebook

By Ray Lucas

I have a co-worker who recently commented on a series of Facebook photos I have posted during the past year. “My wife and I were just talking about how your family takes all of these family trips to cool places.” He went on, “You guys are always doing something fun – I look forward to seeing what type of adventures you are in to.”

It is true that as a family, we have made a conscious decision to focus more of our time and money on life rayexperiences. As a result, we frequently spend weekends camping, vacationing in places we have always wanted to visit and exploring unique local destinations. It is also true that I have always used Facebook as more of a shared photo album for family and friends than to share funny memes or political ideologies. Grandparents, family and friends from different states as well as close to home often comment about how they enjoy keeping up with us through our Facebook posts.

However, his comments started me to thinking that perhaps posting photos of smiling children, happy family times and fun weekend ray-2getaways is painting an unrealistic picture of what the Lucas family is really like. Let’s face it, very few people on social media are prone to post the nitty gritty moments of life. We want to share the moments when our children are smiling and laughing, not the ones where they are arguing about having to take a photo in the first place. It’s human nature to share the best of times.

I’ve begun to wonder what Facebook would look like if in addition to the good times, families like mine started posting very candid and real photos of the mundane or downright hard moments of life. Instead of editing our photos for the best smile, maybe we should occasionally slip one in of the kids whining that they don’t want their photo taken in front of Cinderella’s Castle at Disney. In the interest of presenting a more fair and balanced portrait of my life on Facebook, my New Year’s resolution for 2017 is to post more moments like these:

I resolve to post a photo of me weed eating in a T-shirt full of holes and my  wife cleaning the bathroom toilet on a beautiful Saturday morning in addition to the one of us paddling our kayaks on a placid Deam’s Lake later that day.

I resolve to post a photo of our five- and nine-year-olds whining in stere about “How much longer do we have to walk?” captured just ten minutes after they cheesed with my wife and I for the trail selfie we took in Brown County State Park.

I resolve to post a photo of my teenage son and daughter rolling their eyes  about having to wear matching sweaters for our annual family photos right  before I upload our family posing in a beautiful shot taken at the Falls of  the Ohio.

I resolve to show the image of me getting frustrated with my wife who is  trying unsuccessfully to help me back the camper into a tight camping  spot between two trees, as well as the one of us sitting around the fire roasting s’mores with the kids later that weekend.

I resolve to post a photo of the McDonald’s double cheeseburger I ate in  the car on the way to a school open house a few days after I post an image of the two beautiful rib eye steaks and fresh corn on the cob I am grilling on the front porch.

I resolve to post a photo of me returning work emails on my iPhone while my  preschool son comes to the sidelines to ask how much longer soccer practice  will be on a blazing hot afternoon a week before I proudly upload the video of him scoring the cutest soccer goal in the history of the YMCA league.

I resolve to post a live feed of me threatening my teenage son that if his grades drop due to all of the time he is  spending in the Actor’s Theatre production of Macbeth, he will not be trying out for the spring musical at Providence.  I’ll upload this hours before the live feed of his feature solo singing “It Takes Two” in the musical Hairspray  on the New Albany Riverfront stage.

I resolve to post of photo of me in the bedroom watching Sunday night football while my wife is in the living  room watching the series Outlander a few days after the romantic photo of us dressed up and having dinner  with friends outdoors at Brooklyn and the Butcher.

I resolve to ask someone from church to click a shot of me bribing my children with Hot Wheels and candy  if they smile for our family photo after Christmas mass with all of them wearing their Christmas best outfits.  I’ll post this moment before the one I post of our smiling Christmas electronic postcard.

And finally, I resolve to post the evidence of mom and dad sleeping/recovering on the couch on New Year’s  Day while the kids serve themselves cookies and Cheetos for lunch as well as the photo from the night  before of me kissing my beautiful wife at midnight at a New Year’s Eve party with extended family.

The next time you idealize my or another family’s life based on the posts you see on your scrolling social media feed, remember that the grass is always greener on Facebook. And if it isn’t, I probably used Photoshop to make it look like my kids were sitting in a field of the greenest grass in all of Ireland. Can I get a like?