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Wanted: Nanny for Middle-Aged Empty Nester

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Seeking live-in babysitter for technologically handicapped middle-aged adult. "Mom," as she's known, is generally easy-going and well-behaved, but must be monitored with vigilance around all digital devices. The ideal candidate will demonstrate infinite patience along with basic, elementary school knowledge of technology ranging from the television remote to the iPhone.

I'm about to throw a decidedly potty-mouthed temper tantrum.

Curled up on the couch, cradling a bowl of ice cream in my lap, I'm settled in for an evening of What Not To Wear reruns. Although I guess we don't call them reruns anymore, right? Whatever they're called, I'm pretty sure they're hiding somewhere in the maze of menus and submenus on my TV screen, but I can't seem to remember the Byzantine directions that will get me to the step where I push the big round "OK" button on the remote.

"Isabelle?" I yell to my 14-year-old daughter, who is in the kitchen making her own bowl of ice cream. "Where's our show? Did you forget to tape it?"

"Mom... " she yells back, with the same exasperated tone I use when she asks me for the millionth time where her shoes are. "I told you, we don't have to record it. Just go to On Demand."

Isabelle is concerned. Her brother is going to college in the fall, and although she's three years behind him, she's not convinced that I'll be technologically independent by the time she leaves.

I sigh and stare at the remote, the thing we used to call the clicker. It was a simple but revolutionary device back in the day, allowing us to turn the TV off or on, make it louder or quieter, and, stunningly, change the channel, all without leaving the couch. The only mystery about this device involved its location, provoking the question that could be heard echoing up and down the streets of my suburban Boston neighborhood, "Wheeya's the clickah?"

But now, much to my kids chagrin, questions abound. Where's the mute and where's the pause? Why is there one show on the screen but a different show coming through the speakers? How do I get it off Guide and back to regular TV? How do I get it back to regular TV after we watch a movie? And my son's all time favorite question: If it's a DVD, can we still rewind?

And frankly, the remote is child's play compared to the baffling technology of my iPhone. Can I text more than one person at a time? How do I send a picture? Wait -- did I delete the Internet? One day all the pretty little apps started jiggling inexplicably, leaving me to stab at the touch screen with chimp-like fingers. Only the threat of a time-out avoided a teary meltdown as my son kindly but firmly instructed me never to hold my thumb over an icon for more than three seconds. But why, I asked him. "Because I said so," he answered.

Isabelle comes into the den and I hand her the remote. I'm helpless, and we both know it. She shakes her head, clicks a series of buttons, and here come Stacy and Clinton, telling us to drape and layer and most importantly, find the right accessory. Isabelle plops next to me on the couch, and we eat our ice cream companionably while we watch the dumpy duckling morph into a tastefully attired swan. I want them to move in, I tell Isabelle, they'll fix my wardrobe and never let me buy another shapeless sweater again. "Let's do another one," I say when the episode ends, and she watches me fumbling with the remote like a toddler trying to force a square peg into a round hole.

You don't need Stacy and Clinton, she tells me, gently prying the device from my hands before the tantrum begins. You need a nanny.