Yesterday, as my daughter was playing next to me, she held up a toy. "Look, Mommy, I am going to buy it," she informed me. Then she ran over to the wall to push buttons. "Beep, beep, beep." She declared happily, "There!" It was as simple as that.
I grew up with money (not an abundance, but money is what bought things). We would take some coins to the store to purchase a treat. Now, I pull out a card. The direct payment system that we so regularly depend on came into use around 1994. I was almost done high school by that time. I don't recall my first place of employment using any electronic devices for collecting money.
Every generation enlightens the next with stories of how things were different when they were children. As I watch my daughter explore her world and express her understanding of it through play, the changes between my childhood and her childhood are sometimes astounding. Especially in the realm of technology.
Though my daughter has seen coins and bills, we barely hold money in our hand. She knows the little toy dispensers in the front of the grocery store take quarters. And we acquire paper money to take to a garage sale or the farmer's market. But we still quickly stop at a "machine" to do our withdrawal. Her visual of the process involved in paying to get something is incomparable to mine as a child.
I also did not grow up with the internet. I couldn't watch any video I wanted by request on You Tube. My parents couldn't look up lyrics to random songs. They couldn't make anything they wanted for breakfast by simply searching a recipe online. If they knew, they knew. If they didn't, too bad.
My television only had a few channels, and shows geared to me usually only played one day a week. Now, there are whole channels devoted to my daughter's learning or entertainment, if we so desired.
My camera took pictures, but I couldn't look at them until they were printed. And I most definitely was limited on how many I could take because of the price. Now, my daughter regularly scrolls through the many pictures and videos taken of her playing and eating and posing and laughing. In my childhood home, we didn't even have any way to take videos.
I couldn't Face Time family. Even talking to relatives long distance was a treat due to the cost. Now, my daughter can know the voices and faces of her loved ones, and they can watch her grow up with our videos. That is, if they have the technology themselves.
It is a different world. I am living in it with her, but I can't empathize with what is going on in her head. I am unable to truly see it from her eyes. I can just enjoy her observations. I can just limit her use of handheld devices, which she would have all day at two years old if I gave her permission. I can just enable her love of the outdoors, books, cooking, and being active.
And I am completely unable to imagine the world in which she will be raising her children.