You betcha (she is SO Minnesooota), baby, and this has nothing to do with ears. Although Dr. Matron has been known to give the occasional lecture on this blog, this isn't so much lecture as Query and Ponder, out loud.
This post, rendered by the ever intriguing Tootsie, got the Matron thinking. Thanks, honey!
I'll pause while you read. Hum, hum. . ..
So the Matron started thinking about boundaries and when we let children move through them. The crib is a boundary, of sorts, then the baby's territory is expanded! She's in a bed. Same logic runs with the back yard. When Little Angel is 5, he's in the back yard. At 12, riding a bike down the block. Territory expands! While territory expands, so does the self - you need to have the brains, the emotional tools, the social skills to navigate your new terrain! Because--and here's what it gets tricky -- the new terrain always has some kind of relationship component! You're not alone navigating that terrain, from the toddler whose parent tucks Junior in bed at night (and picks her off the floor when there's a bump in the dark!) to the 12 year old Junior riding her bike into the world of drivers and neighbors -- and potential creeps or criminals.
Are you with her? So this is all about growing up and going out into the great big physical, relational world!
But this generation of parents, the one she shares with you (damn that third person narrator and grammatical restrictions), is confronting a new set of boundaries: electronic, online, alive! Children aren't just growing up as their physical boundaries expand -- or growing into just the physical world, but the online world as well.
You all know this.
Here's what interest the Matron.
She's sure there's a name for this and damn, if she just can't remember what theory she's theorizing. Philosopher Mom? Are you there? Is this just plain old poststructuralism below or somethin' else? She vaguely remembers a theory . . .
Anyway, if Self is shaped through the endless series of interactions between self and other -- whether that other is an object, animal or person -- if you've ever had a transcendental moment in nature or a 'light bulb' go off in your head when talking to someone, you were conscious of a change in YOU but this happens all the time without us knowing, we're becoming with every interaction -- okay, if Self is shaped that way, what are the implications for that Self if so many of these memorable interactions are virtual. Just you, interacting with nothing tangible. Solid. Real. Yet this shapes you.
Veering down a different technological path, if growing up involves a thoughtful parental extension of boundaries, the Matron laments the contradiction, the difficulty, the pain of even understanding the virtual boundary. Because the child (at least hers) sometimes confronts and desires the new terrain before the Matron even knows it exists -- how can she set the pace for him? How can she set the terms of expanding boundaries without knowing where in the hell that terrain is -- and, new terrain gets created constantly!
Luddites among us? Well, the Matron just left her virtual classroom. In the spring, she is teaching nearly entirely online. Her son's new junior high school employs all kinds of parent portals, chat rooms, peeks and spies and various online, electric possibilities. Social networks, Couch-surfing, telecommuting.
The Matron is making herself dizzy. If you haven't heard of couch-surfing you're not in your twenties. See how the world has changed! Now there's an example of ever-expanding territory.
Finally, she's noticed something else. Even as the online and electric terrain expands at eye-popping speed, the physical terrain available to our children has shrunk dramatically. Whose urban children roam free these days? Not many. She knows that in her corner of the city, packs of children don't roam free for hours, unattended, like she did. But Little Johnny has the world at his fingertips once he hits that laptop.
There's no gold standard for the contemporary parent--when you get to go to the Magic Mountain alone -- because the Mountain itself shifts, every few hours.