Techno Toddler

Several years ago, I was visiting with my brother one afternoon at his house when we stumbled into a rather comical situation involving an entertainment center that would make a starship cockpit envious and his three-year-old son. It went something like this…. From around the corner in the kitchen, my brother was yelling out instructions on how to play a VHS tape he wanted me to see. Now, I am in no way a stranger to the technical world. However, I faced a wall with a television, multiple VCR units, a DVD player, and a stereo system with all the bells and whistles. “Turn on the TV and then the VCR,” my brother instructed from the kitchen.  — “Which remote is the VCR?” I asked, yelling to be heard over the microwave. — “It’s the black one!” came an exasperated reply. — I looked down at the shelf to find half a dozen black remotes. Well, that narrows it down. “Describe it!” I called back. — “It’s black and rectangular with little buttons on it!” came a snarky reply. — Oh, well why didn’t you say so in the first place? As I started to head to the kitchen to inform my brother what a horse’s patootie he was being, I looked down to find his three-year-old son shuffling through the remotes. In a matter of seconds, the toddler had turned on the television, activated the VCR, shoved the proper VHS tape into the slot, pressed the PLAY button, and plopped himself in front of the television to watch the show. As the sound of whatever it was we were supposed to be watching now filled the living room, my brother rounded the corner. “See? That wasn’t so hard,” he said. — “Wasn’t me,” I informed, pointing down to the toddler who sat between my feet. “He did it.” — “He can’t even read yet!” my brother exclaimed. — “But he apparently has watched you do it and memorized the buttons,” I said. “If I were you, I’d make sure he doesn’t know how to turn on the computer.” — Years later, using this true story as a base-line, I wrote a children’s picture book entitled TYLER ON THE MOON. The book is about a toddler who memorizes the button sequence to open the doors on a moon habitat and sneaks outside for a dangerous walk alone on the moon. The situation that inspired the story was funny in retrospect, but the lesson is that kids watch what we do and mimic our behavior without understanding the dangers.