The Playroom: The iPad dilemma

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Author: Maraya Steadman '89, '90MBA

Maraya Steadman

It’s Sunday morning. I have a coffee, the Sunday Chicago Tribune and about 20 minutes before I need to get my daughter into that minivan to race off to the next thing. I pull out the sports pages and go right to the article about Notre Dame’s loss to Michigan.

As I am sitting there at my dining room table, I’m thinking about the joy of drinking coffee and reading the Sunday paper, and then it hits me like a lightning bolt.

Do people with iPads read the Sunday paper? You can’t really drink coffee and read an iPad, because if you spill coffee on it, it’s dead. Those things have three different moisture indicators — if you lick it, it dies.

So if you have one of those electronic devices, what is this experience like? Sitting at the dining room table with coffee in a travel mug with a screw-on lid so it doesn’t drip or spill, a plastic tablet glowing in front of you?

No coupons, no mess, no spreading out, no walking back into the room after cleaning up the dog barf and seeing the comforting sight of the Sunday paper spread out all over the table. Pure decadence to make such a mess and surround yourself in it.

My husband bought me an iPad for my birthday. I told him to take it back.

“Why?”

“Because I don’t want it.”

“But you can read everything on it.”

“What if I don’t want to?”

And then, we got in a spat. On the one side, my husband trying to be generous and getting frustrated because he bought me something every other housewife in Cook County wants. On the other side, me, with an electronic device I don’t need that costs more than my first car.

I actually put a moratorium on gifts. Despite his best efforts, my husband has a hard time buying me presents. Partly because he only shops in three places and one of them is a big box electronics store.

When I opened the scanner I asked, “What is it?”

“It’s a scanner.”

“What do I do with it?”

“You scan stuff.”

“Oh.”

That was followed by speakers.

“Why do I need these?”

“So the sound from your computer is better.”

“Is that important?”

And the video camera small enough to fit in my purse.

“I have a video camera.”

“Yeah, but this one is really small. And you can post video clips on Facebook.”

“I’ve never posted a video clip on Facebook in my life.”

“Now you can.”

This is an ongoing conflict between my husband’s belief that electronic gizmos are good and will make my life better and my stubborn self who doesn’t think life without a scanner is so bad.

What if I’m happy reading newsprint and books? I like dog-earing the pages and writing in the margins, underlining passages.

I like sharing my books with friends, taking books to book club and holding the volume in my lap. I don’t want to hold an iPad in my lap. I’d need a travel mug for my book club beverage.

You can spill stuff on a book. And it’s okay. It’s real life. Stuff spills and books don’t break. And sometimes life is messy, and I like it that way.

This afternoon I caught my husband reading the sports pages. A snide comment: “Why don’t you just read it on your Kindle?”

He looked up at me, an open beer in his hand, and, smiling, asked, “What if I don’t want to?”


Maraya Steadman, who lives in a Chicago suburb, is a stay-at-home mother of three children. She can be reached at maraya@steadmans.org.


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