Who are these people and what are they doing? These are my parents, Marie and Ted Renner.
In October, my mom announced that she wanted an iPad for her birthday. Woman to woman, I would never reveal her real age but she was born during the Great Depression. I was shocked when she asked for an iPad. I didn’t even think she knew what one was. But evidently all of her friends have an iPad and she wanted one too.
I remember telling her that just because everyone else had one it didn’t mean she had to have one, too. But she argued that Lucy, Loretta, JoAnne, Jan and Gisela all had an iPad and she was the only one in the whole group that didn’t have one. Somehow the whole conversation sounded familiar.All of us kids — there are eight of us — chipped together to buy my mom and iPad for her birthday.After she opened her gift and acted surprised, my brother and I asked what she wanted to learn first on the iPad. Her answer was that she wanted to play slots.My brother, Jayme: “We bought you an expensive complex, computing system so you can play slots?”Mom: Yes, and you should be glad. It isn’t real money.Me: And let’s keep it that way. NEVER (do you hear me) NEVER put your credit card number into this machine no matter how nicely it asks you to or how many times it asks you. Do you understand what I am saying? This is important! (Again the conversation sounded familiar.)Thus, the “slots-fest” began and my dad even joined in. At Christmas time, my mom cornered each and every one of the grandchildren and asked them to download new slot games for her. My parents are having the time of their life.I confess, at first I was skeptical. One day I called my mom to tell her about an incident that happened at work. I was rambling on when I realized I heard clinging and clanging slot machine noises in the background.Me: Mom are listening to me?Mom: Yes dear.Me: But you are playing on your iPad aren’t you?Mom: Yes, but I can do both.Me: OK, what did I just tell you?Mom: You were whining about something.Me: That is just a guess.Mom: An easy guess, you are always whining about something.Me: Mom, could you please turn off that iPad and listen to me.Mom: Not now dear, I just won 135 free spins and am only $200 away from your Dad’s all time record high of $19,350 dollars. Can I call you back when it is your Dad’s turn to play on the iPad? (Again, the whole conversation sounded so familiar.)I hung up the phone. My first reaction was hurt and disappointment. But then I thought about it for a while. Here are two people that grew up having to play with sticks, rocks and little pieces of discarded twine. That is if they had the chance to play at all.My parents, like their friends, mostly worked hard all their life. At a very young age, they worked hard doing chores on the farm.Then they had to work hard to provide for their own families. They worked hard to provide us kids with food, clothing, shelter and to put that one special toy under the Christmas tree that we wished for all year long.No, this generation has earned the right to play. And only this generation would have the ingenuity to take such a complicated device and turn it simply into a toy that brings them some joy.I say iPadders unite!Don’t let anyone — especially your kids — define your entertainment.If free spins, bonus rounds and the clinking of imaginary coins collecting in your imaginary bank brings you the fun and happiness you so much deserve, I am all for it!