How to help your kids stay on the case

Vinyl and CDs can help chil­dren ap­pre­ci­ate one thing at a time in an era of in­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion, writes JEFF VRA­BEL

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

IHAVE just watched my beloved, trea­sured, mag­i­cal, sharp and thought­ful 12-year-old strug­gle to open a CD case for a full 20 sec­onds. He stared at it, fid­geted with each edge and then fought with the wrong side. He pushed on the black spine, try­ing, I’m guess­ing, to ac­ti­vate some se­cret spring-re­lease mech­a­nism. He flipped it over, in­spected it, scowled, then flipped it back over for fur­ther scowl­ing.

When he caught me watch­ing him, an un­man­age­able smirk play­ing on my face, he made his move­ments more furtive, ex­ert­ing pres­sure on parts that did not move but try­ing to play it all off like, “Pfft what­ever, I’m just ab­sently fid­get­ing with this thing. I don’t even know why you’re looking at me.” When he caught me fum­bling with my cam­era to try for a sur­rep­ti­tious video, he warned, “If you post this to In­sta­gram, you’re go­ing to need an in­sur­ance pol­icy for your face.”

I’m not in the busi­ness of hu­mil­i­at­ing my chil­dren on­line in video form, so I’ll just use words. This was adorable. Com­pact discs, you might re­mem­ber, used to be about as rare as Dori­tos. At one point, I prob­a­bly owned 1 000 of them, which I say with some pride even though a sig­nif­i­cant per­cent­age were pro­duced by Blues Trav­eler. I bought CDs when you had to pur­chase them in­side malls, when they ar­rived in those point­less, treeslaugh­ter­ing long­boxes, where you had to walk into a mu­sic store and part with $18 be­cause you wanted a sin­gle track and the record com­pa­nies were still in their preNap­ster unchecked-evil days.

I had CDs I didn’t even like, in­clud­ing two – two – by the Scor­pi­ons. I watched some kid in my class run a rea­son­ably profitable stolen-CD boot­leg ring out of his gi­ant over­size coat. Com­pact discs were new, they were pre­cious, they were cur­rency, they al­lowed us to pitch shoe boxes full of ru­ined cas­settes, they were ev­ery­where. And now, just north of 20 years later, I watched a rea­son­ably ef­fec­tive hu­man be­ing strug­gle to ac­cess the in­te­rior of one. I texted my cousin about this, and she replied that her daugh­ter said she knows about CDs be­cause “Grandma and Grandpa have a lot of them”. So­phie, if you’re read­ing this, YOU’RE NOT HELP­ING.

If I’m be­ing hon­est, some part of me felt val­i­dated that this lit­tle big-shot, who scoffs ev­ery time I die in Star Wars: Bat­tle­front on the PlayS­ta­tion (which I do with alarm­ing con­sis­tency, even as Darth Vader), can’t quite get it to­gether enough to

But it’s funny, be­cause them­selves in the 1900s

crack a mass-pro­duced plas­tic con­tainer from 1991. (Oh, are you laugh­ing at me be­cause I can’t build a Minecraft cruise ship? Here, try to break into this copy of Use Your Il­lu­sion II, fancy pants.)

But it’s funny, be­cause though my son has ap­par­ently never seen a com­pact disc, he’s very into records. Record play­ers, of course, were how peo­ple en­ter­tained them­selves in the 1900s, back in the days of “gramo­phones” and Tommy Dorsey and “pay­ing for mu­sic” and other stuff that peo­ple don’t pay at­ten­tion to any more. For years, I’d kept an old­ish turntable and a few crates of vinyl stored in… well, I might as well ad­mit it was in a damp and hu­mid at­tic, be­cause I plan badly. So, af­ter a re­cent move, I got them all out, mopped off the con­den­sa­tion, re­moved the cock­roach car­casses and showed the kids how we used to lis­ten to our Al Jol­son.

Now, I have a four-year-old, and if there’s any­thing you don’t want within reach of a four-year-old’s peanut but­tersmeared hands, it’s a de­vice that doesn’t work if you bump it. But my older son was fas­ci­nated by this relic from the past that played mu­sic from his present. And I don’t want to sound too much like the Ev­ery­thing-Was-Bet­ter-in-the-’40s guy, but he fell down the kind of sin­gle-artist, hugeart, one-band, non-playlist, non-shuf­fle rab­bit hole that I in­hab­ited when I was his age. He in­ves­ti­gated the al­bum art, paged through lyrics, got ex­cited at sheets of collectable stick­ers. He lost his mind when we found a Charlie Brown Christ­mas made of translu­cent green vinyl. He cack­led at the terrible mu­sic we all used to find ap­peal­ingly dan­ger­ous. (“Meat Loaf ?” he said one night, shak­ing his head in be­mused dis­be­lief. “Why don’t peo­ple make any sense?”)

It was heart­en­ing to watch, es­pe­cially in a cul­ture that af­fords him and his peers such snap-in­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion. Not too long ago we had to wait for six hours to hear one song on a static-af­flicted south­ern In­di­ana ra­dio sta­tion; this kid will never know a world where he can’t hear a song he’s think­ing of within five sec­onds.

His group will deal less with formed, fin­ished, com­pleted things and more with chopped-up in­put ar­riv­ing from all di­rec­tions. And I may be draw­ing par­al­lels that don’t ex­ist, but I am hop­ing that th­ese fleet­ing in­ter­ac­tions will help teach him the pa­tience and care in­volved with tak­ing in one thing at a time, whether that’s a book, a story, an al­bum or a CD. If he can ever open one. – Wash­ing­ton Post

Buy­ing CDs at the height of their pop­u­lar­ity meant vis­it­ing a mall as op­posed to down­load­ing mu­sic.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.