This morning I padded downstairs and found my daughter Lily on the couch playing a game on her iPhone. She is 13 so this is pretty standard, maybe too standard. There is a balance at this age between encouraging escape and game playing, for which devices can be ideal, and too much screen time. Nova and I tell ourselves that we have found a decent balance. Maybe it’s even true.
Anyway, I made my way across the kitchen to make coffee. I am a firm believer on putting on your own oxygen mask before helping others with theirs, metaphorically, so usually I don’t interact much before the first latte has made its way into my system. Even if it’s decaf, part of it is the ritual. As I frothed the milk, I heard her playing “Magic Piano”, which is a game targeted at slightly younger kids that lets them tap the screen to “play” simple-sounding versions of popular songs. This morning it was songs from the La-La Land soundtrack. I started to browse the paper online.
Then, unexpectedly, she asked me if I wanted to sit with her and listen to her play.
Was it a breathtaking concert experience? No. But it actually was magic. I have to give Smule, who made the game, credit for naming it perfectly. I just sat and watched her. She played the first song (“Another Day of Sun”, which should have won the Oscar for best song by the way but somehow wasn’t even nominated). Then she pretended to take a bow before playing another (“City of Stars”, which shouldn’t have been nominated. It took Justin Hurwitz like 5 minutes to write that song.)
And then the moment was gone.
I share this anecdote as a Sandwich Generation parent mostly because it was so fleeting. It was fleeting because I am constantly in motion, ever moving, ever planning, and I was happily lost for those 3 short wonderful minutes. Because my daughter is 13 and she probably won’t be calling me ‘Daddy’ and asking me to come across the room to watch her play a game much longer. Because I remember being 13 and my father playing ping-pong with me in our garage on 95 degree summer days, afternoon and afternoon. I don’t think I gave him enough credit for that.
I write a lot about trials and tribulations, about technology as a survival aid, about being balanced on a knife’s edge between two extremes. Much of that is true. The fleeting glimpses are true too.