It’s hard to imagine what we did before the Internet.
Not just how we managed, but what we actually did. The amount of time we spend nowadays either with our thumbs at the ready staring into a smart phone or gawping at a screen makes you wonder how we filled the time before we became ‘connected’.
On trains for instance, where the Moscow State Circus could be performing in the aisle and we’d no longer notice, what did we do before we were devoted to our devices? Did we look out of the window more, talk to each other more, take more walks to the buffet car? Or just think a bit? Or heaven forfend, relax?
Children generate similar questions. So much of your time as a parent is taken up either chasing about or thinking about the smallest members of your household that it leaves you flabbergasted that you could ever have managed to fill 24 hours without them.
And then a hazy memory of exactly what you used to do to pass the time pre kids appears in your head and is soon accompanied by a wistful look on your face.
The truth is that as a species one of our greatest strengths is our capacity to adapt to incredibly quickly and subsume change into our lives at such a speed that the past which didn’t include them fades from view at a rate of knots.
I found myself wondering the other day for instance how we’d cope in our family without the naught step. It’s a relatively recent Supernanny induced phenomenon which has become the discipline method of choice for millions of parents at lightening speed, rendering many other methods redundant or even repugnant for many in the case of corporal punishment.
Its a simple idea that carries with it an awful lot of power if you are two – exclusion being at its core of course rather than some fear of staircases themselves. What did we so without it? In fact how did our ancient forefathers cope when it came to discipline I got to thinking?
Threatened with the sabre tooth tiger? Exclusion from the cave?
Well, it turns out that disciplining on a regular basis is itself a relatively recent parental task – because for centuries children just weren’t put in the unsuitable situations on a regular basis which require them to ‘behave’ or be constrained. By which I mean cars, supermarkets, classrooms, chimney breasts and china shops.
A fact which seems blindingly obvious and tremendously insightful all at the same time.
And how did I discover this piece of knowledge which will hopefully remind me not to expect my children to act like adults and to avoid resorting to the naughty step if they fail that impossible ask?
How did we ever manage without it?