This year, the Oxford Junior Dictionary, aimed at seven-year-olds, decided to ditch some words. They had too many pages apparently, so they got chopping; chestnuts, magpies, leopards and larks are out. Blogging, chat rooms and cut-and-paste are in. Net over nature, Outlook over the outdoors. A move to modernise, they said, a profoundly sad move that depressed language-lovers like me to the very core. Now, more than ever, I want to self-implode every time I see a child with an iPad.
Children with iPads is a phenomenon that, like aerosol cheese, Crocs and Tony Abbott, wouldn’t exist if humans were doing things right. Having witnessed the zombifying effects of constant access to artificial entertainment on children as young as two, little slaves to the little silver square, I made a promise to myself never to plague my future spawn with that sort of handicap. In arguments, where friends would campaign for the ‘educational benefits’ of the imagination-sapping devil square, I would find myself inwardly screaming “BLOODY MAGPIES ARE EDUCATIONAL!” It was infuriating.
Then I moved into a house with a dog. This is not just any dog, this is ‘the cutest dog ever’, and while I know that everybody says that about their dog, everybody else is wrong. This dog, which will be referred to as Dog, is the best. I don’t quite mean that in a literal sense — in fact. Dog is probably quite far from the best. Dog likes jumping on couches and tearing up pillows and sticking her nose in your food. Dog likes to wait until your TV show is on to jump on your face and demand attention. Dog gets so excited about walks on the beach that she poops and vomits all the way home.
And yet it’s a good thing that Dog can’t talk because if she asked for both of my kidneys I would give them to her, apologise for the delay and pay the medical bills in advance. If Dog asked for an iPad? “Sure thing!” I would say, “Here’s a back catalogue of every season of The Bachelor ever filmed — fry your little doggie brain with it!” May I reiterate that Dog is not even mine.
How do parents who actually created and have at least partial ownership of their own children make these kinds of decisions? It’s all very well to not believe in iPads, to want to buy your kids multiple copies of the pre-2015 Oxford Junior Dictionary and a worm farm, and not let them back indoors until dinnertime. But what if they ask; in fact, what if they beg, getting down on their little knees, round glistening eyes imploring you to give in just this once? That sounds like absolute torture.
So what’s the solution? Thankfully, me having kids is a few years away, so at least I’ve got a while to plan whether I move into a remote commune devoid of technology or not.
The rest of you are doomed.