Sooner or later everything becomes obsolete.
I have fond memories of playing my Sega Megadrive in the 90s. Michael Jackson moonwalked his way across the 30cm screen, Sonic the Hedgehog ran at unfathomably fast speeds and life was good. Nothing could ever top it, or so I thought. And I laughed, oh how I laughed, at my friend with the so outdated Nintendo Entertainment System. You poor bastard, if only you’d waited a few years, you too could have owned the pinnacle of gaming.
Of course, not long after that my neighbour got a Sony Playstation and my little world was turned upside-down. I had to beg to go over and play Crash Bandicoot and Tekken. My beloved Megadrive was obsolete, my social leverage gone.
Every now and then I would dust the old controller off and play some Mutant League Football, but it was never the same. The action felt slow, the graphics cartoonish. Soon enough I packed the Megadrive away and never turned it on again.
As life went on I grew used to the idea of obsolescence. Computers came and went (40mb hard drive, “you’ll never need more than that!” chortled one memorable computer salesman. I think he works on the NBN now…). Then it happened with mobile phones. In the bin after two years (actually, in a box in the garage, I have an unhealthy obsession with keeping old tech). Things become obsolete, it is a fact of life. We move on.
I know all this, yet I was still more than a little surprised this evening. It became apparent that I too had become obsolete.
It happened during dinner. One of my primary roles as father is to get food into the child with a spoon. I actually quite enjoy this role. We sit together at the dining table and I feed Hannah, mouthful after mouthful, until she shakes her head furiously or starts to spit it back out. Often a game of peek-a-boo erupts, or we make silly noises to each other, or she laughs at my foot as I tap it along to music. Good times.
Tonight, however, things changed forever. Hannah stopped the spoon, mid-way to her mouth. She held it with her tiny fist, looked me square in the eye and yanked it from my grasp. Then she looked at the bowl in my hand and, with impeccable non-verbal communication, indicated that I was to bring it close. She put the spoon in and started feeding herself with surprising efficiency.
I sat for a while, holding the bowl from which Hannah scooped. Is that what I had become? Nothing more than a utensil for holding a bowl in place while Hannah merrily scooped away. Then I realised, we already owned one of those – a suction device with its own attachable bowl. I went to the kitchen and fished it out of a cupboard, transferred the dinner and attached it to her table.
I sat back and reflected on the situation. Hannah had once again taken me by surprise, by growing up. I guess I should have always known this day was coming (it would be weird to still be spoon-feeding Hannah at her high-school formal), but I hadn’t been prepared.
I felt a moment of sadness as I reflected on yet another dynamic that would never be the same again, but at the same time I had immense pride for my little baby, who is quickly growing into a vibrant and fiercely independent toddler.
As for me? Hopefully I can find a few other ways to still be useful in Hannah’s life. I don’t want to be stored in a box in the garage just yet.