sign of the times

The Bat Signal was a distress signal.

It was a big searchlight with an enormous (and fire retardant) ‘Colorforms’ bat attached to the front. It projected a large emblem on the sky when crime was out, trying to get paid. In movies and graphic novels, the signal is used by Gotham Cities finest as a method of summoning Batman to their assistance in the event that some craziness was in the works. It also doubled as a weapon of psychological intimidation to the villains of Gotham City.

This brings up a few questions, like…

If it was a really clear night and there was nothing to catch “the bat shadow”, would everyone simply think that Kathleen Kelly was hosting a no-holds-bared book signing at “The Little Shop Around the Corner” in the attempts to put Joe Fox out of business once and for all?

What if the crime was being committed during one of those overactive heat lightning storms and Batman’s eyes were very dry and he was hyper-blinking at the same but opposite rate of the signals visibility?

What if, during this tough economic time, Batman had to substitute his HD-DVR box for a basic cable set up and he was chilling on the couch watching The Walking Dead. I know that I would find it very difficult, without the ability to pause live T.V., to get up off the couch every 10 seconds to look out the window to make sure that it the cops weren’t crying for help again.

What I am getting at here is that there are holes in their plan.

Plus, there are bunches of ways that Batman can be better equipped with some more relevant tools of the trade. Worst case scenario, I think that you can pick up a beeper on eBay for about 4 cents and clip it onto his utility belt between his Phantom Snap Crackers and his Grappling Gun. However, in actuality, it may look more like and Android Phone with an unlimited data and text plan that is linked to his email, Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare accounts.

There are much easier ways to stay connected now that technology is such a huge part of our existence.

This is a great visual for parents of teenagers.

Think about how easy it was to be a superhero to our kids when they were tiny little people running around a controlled environment. There was only so much trouble they could get into based on the arena we staged for them to run around in and there were very clear signs as to when we needed to get involved. A whine, cry, or smoke alarm got our attention and we sprung into action. There was almost nothing that stood in our way of interacting with them and they always felt our presence.

But then they get older and the landscape expands.

They have bicycles and/or cars. They have computers and phones. They have friends and social networks. They spend a good amount of time out of reach and on their own in a huge world trying to fend for themselves. These are the same kids that can’t remember to clean their rooms, do their homework, or bathe regularly. These are the same kids that would rather ‘game’ or talk on the phone all night than get a good night sleep for school the next day. These are the same kids…don’t get me started.

Here is the reality that we are faced with as parents.

If we do not take time to interest ourselves in what is relevant for our kids today, we might as well turn in our utility belt and cape and hand over the keys to the Batmobile. There is an ever-changing trend in communication between a parent and their children along with ever-morphing rules of engagement. It is our job to stay relevant for our kids, not their job to tone down their understanding so that we can keep up. This means staying interested in the things that they are fascinated with. This means understanding what reaches them and speaks to their interests.

This means taking time to be more like them. And since all we are really trying to do is make better versions of ourselves, what is the harm in that?

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find it strange how much time I spend texting, emailing, facebooking, etc. with my children. It is a sign of the times that I have embraced gladly because my lines of communication with them remain strong and it has been an effective way for me to show them that I am ready to meet them in their world.

I show them that I care about what they care about.

This helps me quite a bit when I choose to dust off the Bat Signal and call them all to diner table for some old fashion face to face time or when I kidnap them for a weekend away from the inventions of the world so that we can make sure that we all remember that we are a family, and what that really means to all of us.

Some families treat guys like Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg, or those kooky cats at Google like they are archenemies that are trying to tear apart their families one GB at a time. I look at them like they are spandex wearing sidekicks that I bring along because my utility belt can only hold so much…

…and I would rather have a tool and not need it, than need a tool and not have it.


One Response to sign of the times

  1. Chantal says:

    Touché, Charlie. There are many aspects of technology that I hate & fight against, but I’ve reluctantly accepted some things, too, if only because the onslaught is relentless. The cell phone will come in time (when they can work & pay for it), and social networking will be allowed again when they can be responsible & not do it behind everyone’s (aka parents’) back. But just because everyone’s doing it/has it/wants it doesn’t mean my kids will. Sometimes being a hero also means knowing your child better than anyone else and following your head AND your heart to guide them. Seems to me that you are doing just that, my friend. Finding balance in being a parent is so hard, it’s nice to read about others’ experiences. Thanks for the post, and for making me think (as always). Nice to visit again :)

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