Now that the holidays are over, our house has settled back to normal — whatever that is.
This Christmas, my daughter was given the gift of technology. She received an iPod Touch, packed with her favorite music and games. More proof I was born in the wrong decade.
Now, I've always embraced technology. When I was a kid, I was the only one in the house that could set the blinking time on the VCR. My first computer was a Commodore 64, and I remember using an actual phone modem by placing the receiver on the acoustic cradle.
So it makes sense that my kids would share my enthusiasm for techie toys. When I first got my iPhone, it seemed all other toys in the house became obsolete to my kids. Both clamored to play with the cool games on my phone.
My daughter mastered Angry Birds, surpassing my level of expertise. However, I found out she was playing on my phone first thing in the morning, only to plug it back in before I arose from my sleep. It took me forever to realize why my phone wasn't charging.
Ever the enterprising kid, she decided to ask Santa Claus for her own iPod Touch. She played every angle, including pointing out when they would go on sale, mentioning all her friends have one, and being on her best cramming-for-the-holidays behavior.
Her best argument: the promise never to ask to play on my phone again. It was a shrewd campaign, and she found the iPod Touch — essentially an iPhone without the phone — waiting for her on Christmas morning.
Santa's having second thoughts.
You see, the iPod Touch not only has the ability to play games, take photos and listen to music, but it can also send text messages. This has become unsettling.
My 8-year-old daughter has become quite the texter, much to my amazement. So now, I interact more with my daughter than I ever have before. And to be honest, I'm not sure how I feel about that.
Don't get me wrong, I love spending time with my family. But there's something to be said about leaving the house to go to work. You know the old adage of leaving work at work? Well, it goes both ways.
During the course of a regular work day, I'll receive an average of 20 texts from my daughter. The majority of which are emoticons, like hearts, flowers or happy faces. I'll get them when she gets home from school, when she eats dinner, when she gets in a fight with her brother, when she goes to bed ... it's an uncensored stream of consciousness from a third-grader.
I've literally carried on text conversations where all of her responses were faces. Oddly, I've carried on real-life conversations with her where her responses were facial expressions. She once relayed an entire story of how her brother got hurt just using pictures like digital hieroglyphics.
It was impressive, especially when she used a lightning bolt icon to express pain.
She also enjoys just sending pictures of herself being silly. But the way she holds the camera always seems to shoot right up her nostrils. Talk about your online bugs.
I can't imagine what my old man would say to me if I had that kind of unfiltered access to him during work at that age. He was of the speak-when-spoken-to school of parenting, so I minded my Ps and Qs when he got home from a long day at work. I'm pretty sure he'd have zero tolerance for me sending a picture of my boogers.
Truth be told, I don't think my old man would've gotten me a device like an iTouch. Heck, I barely got a transistor radio (which I had to build. Thanks, Dad.).
My wife and I set up certain ground rules, especially after she sent a friend a text at 5 in the morning. They are pretty straightforward: not at the breakfast/dinner table, only after all homework is done, and no texting between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m.
But I'm holding her to higher expectations. I correct her spelling at every turn, because I'll be damned if my daughter converses using abbreviated textspeak. I have enough adult friends who slaughter the English language when I get texts (some even sneaking past the auto-correct feature). I figure if you're old enough to text, you're old enough to use our language properly. And if you violate my one simple rule, you're old enough to be mocked.
For now, I'm accepting of the countless emoticons clogging my screen. As long as none of them have to do with homework or boys, I'm all good.
MATT MURRAY is a designer-copy editor at the Daily Pilot, as well as an established blogger-videographer-podcaster. Pile on him at firstname.lastname@example.org.