My baby, she wrote me a letter … about iPads?

by cv harquail on April 14, 2010

I’m not sure whether to be dismayed or delighted… am I allowed to be both, at the same time?

I’m delighted about my kids’ initiative, and dismayed at the power of Apple’s advertising.

Listen to my story…

Saturday morning, racing towards a deadline, I was working in my office when my daughter came in and placed a letter on my desk. The letter was a handwritten, 4 page,  “persuasive essay”.

It begins:

Dear Mom & Dad,

Over the past few weeks, we have been increasingly intrested (sic) in the iPad. We would really like the smallest one to share. There are three reasons why this would be a smart buy. We also have plan about how we would use it, share it, and store it.”

india iPad.jpg
She goes on to mention that, given her calculations, we’d save enough on hard back books that the iPad would “eventually pay for itself”. And, that was “not including all the books you buy”.

I suppose I should have been prepared for this.

The very same child has mentioned to me how much better the 6-minute video on the Apple site is, compared to the ads on the back page of the NYT, at explaining how you could use an iPad.

Last week, when I read aloud from the paper a critical review of the iPad, she had commented, “I bet he wrote that on a pc.”

Still, I’m surprised. I don’t think of my kid as being very tech-involved. This one’s the kind of kid who uses her DSI as a “communication module” for the neighborhood StarWars games in the backyard.

Yet, here she is, lusting after a techtoy.

And she’s not the only one.

My DH has been looking for something, anything, that would make an iPad a sensible purchase

We’re supposed to set a model for our kids. You don’t just get what you want, you earn it. Or you need it. Or you make it yourself.

Usually, you don’t get mom & dad to buy you one, even if it will pay out in 18 months of digital books and movies.

I try hard to distinguish “wants” from “needs”. We don’t need an iPad, we just want one.

I read the whole letter over several times with my DH, chuckling over the clever arguments. (Grandma, if they come out with a new model too soon, you’ll get this one and we buy a new one. That’s the plan.)  I mentioned our family budget. And our MacBook.

Still,  I had to admit I was delighted by the essay. It was persuasive, as advertised.  And of course I was impressed by her use of data. (That’s my girl!).

Still, I was no closer to a purchasing decision.

But my DH was. When I mentioned, yet again, that an iPad was not a “need”, but a “want”,

He said: “Chocolate. That looks like a ‘want’ .”

She said: “But it’s a need to me.”

Check and mate.

Reader, we bought an iPad.ipad 2.jpg

Three days ago.
I have yet to use it myself. Or even hold it in both hands.
Notwithstanding the “terms of sharing” outlined in my baby’s letter.



Dick Richards April 14, 2010 at 12:38 am

Great story! Well told! Thanks!
.-= Dick Richards´s last blog ..Favorite Blog Posts for March 2010 =-.

Chrysula Winegar April 14, 2010 at 7:55 am

I love every single thing about this post. Apple may have provided the motivating product and arguments in favor. But you taught them how to marshall their thoughts, construct a complex argument and make a presentation. Woo hoo. Of course you bought one. And you may NEVER get to play with it… which means you’ll be buying a second one before you know it :).
.-= Chrysula Winegar´s last blog ..In This Together =-.

cv harquail April 14, 2010 at 12:26 pm

HI Chrysula-
Turns out that the sharing challenge is not between the kids and me, but between their dad and the kids! (But there’s no way we’ll get three). I’ve already discovered how effective it can be to say “you’ll have to earn the privilege of using it by finishing piano/cleaning room/walking dog”, possibilities seem endless…..

Nancy April 14, 2010 at 11:19 am

Hilarious! What is she 12 or something? It is a crazy world we live in…

Jon Prial April 14, 2010 at 11:40 am

Although we bought one because my wife and I are adapting the children’s books she publishes (tiger tales) to the iPhone and iPad, I had to “figure it out”. I think it is an outstanding media access device for all age groups. Last Sunday morning I had a bowl of cereal while reading the NYTimes (which took a lot of space on the table) and then I spent time on the iPad NPR app listening to a broadcast while scrolling through the article list. I am close to saying that the iPad is better (and no killing trees). And – since I’m a Netflix subscriber it’s great to travel with (Wifi in hotel).

The world is changing and the kids could again be leading us.
.-= Jon Prial´s last blog ..The Pew Research Millennials Quiz =-.

cv harquail April 14, 2010 at 5:36 pm

Hey Jon, Reflecting on you comment got me thinking about what the kids actually expected to be able to ‘do’ with this, beyond read books and watch movies… (and of course use it for travel apps like maps and podcast tours, this spring break). To me the iPad’s possibilities overlap with things I already have– the iPhone for music and mobile data bits, the MacBook for doc handling and even movies — but my kids have neither of these. So for them, the iPad might actually add new capability in their worlds where both the MacBook and the iPhone are too “much” for them. Especially with the iPhone… they borrow it to telephone anyone, but they have listened to podcasts…. and they are very excited by the idea that they could both read a book together, at the same time from the same page…. It should be so interesting to see how the four of us find ways to share this device and each use it in our own way.

Diane April 14, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Here is a hilarious video about the iPad called Hitler Responds to the iPad.

Stacy April 14, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Really enjoyed this blog posting…you are raising some very smart girls.
And this experience is just one insight into the opportunities and challenges of raising millenials. On one hand, it is quite cool that she is persuasive and thorough in her argumentation for this tool that is probably going to transform how we communicate with one another (any maybe eventually how we live and work together). On the other hand, I always wonder how do we make sure our children are attuned to their privilege and aware that many people around the world are trying to determine how to eat, how to stay physically safe, how to get the most basic education. Challenging balance–teaching our kids to reach for the stars and be bold about creating the futures that they want yet also teaching them to keep a broader perspective and acknowledge their gifts and privileges.
But this post (and your daughter’s letter) did give me quite a chuckle. Glad that she is going to have a chance to play out some of her selling schtick with mama and papa.

cv harquail April 15, 2010 at 7:43 am

Stacy, the issue of helping kids be aware of privilege is such a hard, ongoing challenge. I’ve discovered that sometimes I’ve gone overboard and put too much emphasis on that, with the outcome being that a child feels guilty for asking for things that, in the end, are reasonable given where and how we live. One outcome of the whole persuasive letter thing is that she really had to think about the ‘why’s’ behind the want… and I’m hoping that this will help her and her sister take responsibility for using the tool “with respect”. cv

Tara Mohr April 16, 2010 at 12:14 am

Hilarious and adorable. Thanks for sharing.

tracy cota April 18, 2010 at 12:09 pm

CV, my husband and I are laughing hysterically out loud. They have made a case for us to get the iPAD as well!

David M. Kasprzak April 20, 2010 at 11:31 am

This was a great post. As you mentioned, as parents we all try our best to teach our children skills that will help them amke their way in the world. What I enjoyed most was that your children took initiative, developed a plan, found data, made a persuasive argument, and…..most importantly….were rewarded! I think you can pat yourself on the back that you’ve brought your children to the point that they aren’t throwing a screaming tantrum in the hopes of breaking you down to get their way (at least not in the iPad case!).

Makes me think about how to construct some rewards & recognition programs at work, too. ;^)

cv April 21, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Tracy & David — it feels like the iPad is paying out already… we have it here on vacation, and between the movie sharing & book sharing we’ve had some great sisterly hours on the plane and train. DH still will not let anyone else use it once he’s started… so it looks like we need to expand the rules to cover him, too. he he he
.-= cv´s last blog ..Resumes and Bad Judgment: More bias than you think =-.

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