Remote control parents

Technology is a wonderful thing. No one would have believed in the last years of the previous century that their bedrooms were being watched keenly and closely by their relatives in foreign countries. (Cue the introduction from Jeff Wayne’s War Of The Worlds.) Yet now it’s normal, convenient even, for me to Skype my parents and get them to show me what is in the bedroom I abandoned so many years ago, save for fleeting visits whenever I’m in the UK.

Well, it would be convenient except for my parents lovable tendency to get distracted and start to brandish cuddly toys at the camera of their iPad, when their son is trying to command them to hold up different garments for inspection. I’d be peering at a sweatshirt or a pair of jeans or a quilt(the internet connection wasn’t that great for video), trying to figure out what it was, and the beak of a penguin would hove into view, accompanied by the sound of my father cackling in delight.

Parents are useful things, but they are hard to manage. It’s almost as if they’re human beings in their own right, with personalities and volition and everything. Terribly confusing.

My wife, with cruel glee, pointed out I’d be too fat for many of the trousers waiting for me in England. There are times when a man doesn’t like too much reality to intrude. I had to find some way to revenge myself on her, so I made her phone up car rental companies in Canada to enquire about car seats. Which you can’t rent, apparently. (It sounds like there could be a minefield of liability for the rental companies, but then we have also found a Canadian company that does nothing except rent car seats, so perhaps there isn’t. For the Canadians’ more litigious neighbours, things may of course be different – our next trip, to the West and Mid-West, could involve quite different complexities.)

And so to bed. We put Felicity down about 8 this evening, after her bath, and she slept soundly until about five minutes ago, when she emitted a long wail, steadily increasing in pitch and volume, to indicate that she was now awake again, and in need of succour. Or having her nappy changed. Maybe that’s what “succour” means. I’m too tired to look it up in a dictionary.

I wonder though, in years to come, what ways our daughter will have to communicate with us. For now, yelling works reasonably well (for a limited range of commands) but in thirty odd years time, will video calls using a touch screen device seem normal, old hat, unspeakably retro? Maybe she’ll have some kind of telepathic device to upbraid us through. I suppose that’s something to look forward to.

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