How Toddlers Can Accomplish What You Can’t.

My wife has accused me of being secretly delighted by our son breaking things. She is, of course, correct.

Any proper geekly father should be. To us, items around the house (particularly those which use electricity) should be replaced as often as they can be reinvented by adding new letters to their name. Hence a Nintendo DS is all fine and good so long as there’s no Nintendo DS Lite, Nintendo DSi, Nintendo DSi XL or certainly a Nintendo 3DS behind the glass at Wal-Mart.  Instead, my wife believes that they should be replaced according to the same strict criteria I have for replacing underwear: When they absolutely can no longer continue to serve their designated purpose.

Our son helps us bridge this gap by destroying things before they have a chance to stop working on their own, but so far not before the next generation of the technology is out.

In 2000 I bought the JVC RX-7000BK. It was a beautiful audio receiver, and packed full of technology for the time.  5.1 multichannel surround sound, Dolby Digital and DTS decoders built in, multiple optical digital inputs, on-screen display for configuring and even video-passthrough to watch different sources … Okay, I know it sounds remarkably vanilla now, but eleven years ago, this stuff was amazing to have inside a home.

It all finally came to an end the other night as D.L. happily pushed buttons and turned knobs which had the effect of making lights change, scrolling words across a display and making things really loud or immediately quiet. It’s kind of the best thing ever for a fifteen-month-old to get his hands on.  Somehow he pushed one button too many, and the display turned off forever.  Followed about half an hour later by the sound, which for some reason continued to function and amuse the child for a while.

Before I had even ascertained that the receiver was, in fact, dead, I heard someone say, “You officially have the family’s sanction to search for a replacement.”  Or something like that.  Whatever the exact words were left the distinct impression that my wife was planning to pick up where Tony Soprano left off and refusal of this offer was not so ambiguous a choice as it might otherwise have seemed.  Come to think of it, I definitely should have capitalized Family in the quote above.

Just like that, my boy had done in fifteen short months what I hadn’t been able to do in five years: convince my wife that it was time to upgrade the receiver. And he’s split his time between working on that, and learning how to walk.  (This appears to have been a 50/50 split.)

The new Onkyo TX-NR509 is every bit as advanced as the JVC was in its day, and I’m certain that it will be completely useless to me in another three years.  I hear that four-year-olds are much more destructive than fifteen-month-olds.  Keep it up, son.  Keep it up.  I’m still stuck with the eleven year old speakers.