Thursday, January 15, 2009

NA NO Way!

Last night at the dinner table, my six year old son Ethan suddenly announced that he would like an Apple NANO. My husband George and I were startled, as Ethan is not very materialistic and rarely asks for anything.

"Why do you want a NANO?" I asked.

"Well because it's black, cool and plays music." he explained excitedly.

When further pressed about which songs or artists he favors, he said that he likes the theme from STAR WARS in addition to the theme from his favorite movie IRON MAN. I don't know what alarmed me more - his gross materialism or his complete lack of musical knowledge and taste. I mean I don't have anything against John Williams, but I was hoping that Ethan would name some cool but obscure chanteuse, he would say Mozart, Beethoven, or Brahms, I would have even settled for Hanah Montana. Nope, I'm stuck with a child who does tone deaf renditions of tunes that were orchestrated the same year I was Bar Mitzvahed.

My first impulse was to say ABSOLUTELY NOT! What six year old requires a musical device that until recently I felt was inappropriate for a teenager? I was about to shut Ethan down completely when I got a brilliant idea.

"Sure," I said "You can have an Apple NANO if you get a job and pay for it yourself." At first my son looked hopeful, but then a frown covered his face and he coyly reminded me that he was six and due to child labor laws was unable to get a 'legal' job. "Nonsense," I countered "A lad of your intelligence, fortitude, and craftiness could certainly find a way to earn the money"

'Like how?' he asked doubtfully.

I thought. Hmmm..."Well, now that you mention it, you could start by dusting the house. How about washing the windows? Clean the car? As a matter of fact I think you're old enough to do the laundry and ironing." The more I thought about it, the more chores I felt could be offloaded to my child. He's certainly capable - nice strong back, wiry arms, small hands for dusting behind those first editions George and I had collected for our library. Why not? I could let the cleaning lady and gardener go and finally have the live-in servant I had always wanted.

His expression grew from doubtful to frightened.

I went on to explain that he would not attend school anymore as he would be home all day cleaning, ironing, food shopping, skimming the pool, tending bar, performing oil changes on our cars, and mowing the grass. He would sleep downstairs in the furnace room and I would rent out his room to borders.

Like any good interviewee, my son considered my offer and calmly asked how many days he would have to work as my servant to buy the NANO. I told him that I could easily outsource this position to a 6 year old from India for pennies a day, (globalization -it's a bitch) so that it would take him roughly 3 years. Of course I would have to deduct his food, clothing, and medical expenses so the 3 year tour of duty was probably more like 5. I asked him if he would like to tour his new subterranean sleeping quarters and test the straw mat I had chosen for him to sleep on when Ethan's eyes got red rimmed. I knew that he was trying to be brave in light of having to accept a position that was less than ideal.

My saintly husband George who never appreciates my cruel games, interceded by suggesting that instead of becoming our live-in, Ethan could retain his current position as our son and could collect cans and bottles from our neighbors for recycling. Ethan brightened. "How many cans and bottles would I need to collect?" he asked.

George explained a NANO is about $150 - so if each can or bottle is worth 5 cents you would need 3000 cans or bottles.

"That's alot of cans and bottles," Ethan observed "I'll have to get back to you."

George and I never recieved Ethan's counter offer. Apparently he had done his due diligence with the neighborhood moms and had discovered that we were low-balling him. My offer of domestic servitude and George's bottle and can offer were not going to fly. The whole NANO thing died on the vine. I'm stuck having to shine my own shoes, do my own laundry and cook my own Eggs Benedict as my son hums an off key version of DARTH VADER'S IMPERIAL MARCH theme.

Globalization, it's a bitch.

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