Apples, Kids, & Attitude
For All The Booboos in the World
It was Thursday night and my kids were settling into bed. It was time for evening prayers and bedtime stories. My daughter announced that she had a “booboo” on her foot and, just for a moment, she wanted it to be the center of my attention. Although she’s now seven—in a panicky Dad’s mind that’s halfway to fourteen—she still believes that Dad’s touch has special “booboo” healing qualities. I often wish the problems and bruises of life were that easy to heal.
I took a moment to acknowledge her bruise and after gently touching the spot I asked her and her brother to help me begin our evening prayers. “For all the booboos in the world,” my daughter started, “and for an iMac.” “Oh, no!” I thought to myself. I had hoped for a bit of time before the iMac pleas began.
My daughter is about to enter second grade and my son is preparing himself for the half-day regimen of Kindergarten. The opportunity to use a Macintosh at home is helping each of my children learn about and explore the ever-growing world around them. Whether it be surfing the Internet with Dad or enjoying the interactive content on their favorite educational CD-ROMs, their Macintosh is a significant part of their day-to-day learning experience.
I purchased their Macintosh 7200/90 in February 1996. Today, two and one-half years later, the 7200's 16 MBs of RAM, 4X CD-ROM and 500 MB hard drive are no longer adequate. Compared to the price of a new iMac, the costs of upgrading the 7200's hard drive, CD-ROM and onboard RAM doesn’t make fiscal sense.
I had salvaged from the financial fires of my civil divorce a few meager shares of Apple common stock. It was my hope that the success of the iMac would raise Apple’s share price to about twice what it is today. If that happened, I planned use the money to buy a new iMac for my kids and a much-needed PowerBook for me. However, the economic reality of single parenthood doesn’t afford me the luxury of dwelling in the land of wishful thinking. I’ve learned the hard way that I need to live in the world of today.
It is said a child’s prayers have a special place in Heaven. I believe that’s true because they occupy a most unique spot in a father’s heart here on Earth. My children had an iMac on their minds from the moment they saw their first advertisement for the retro-futuristic machine. It was not an issue of whether or not I would purchase an iMac, it was a matter of when I would buy the Bondi blue machine.
Friday morning, the day before the iMac’s official rollout, I called my favorite hardware vendor. With the stroke of a pen, an iMac was reserved for me. It was to be a surprise for Matthew and Jessica. My quick decision even surprised me, but I didn’t give it a second thought. The 7200/90 would now be used at a client’s office where I desperately needed a computer. Although it’s showing its age, the 7200/90 works quite nicely for spreadsheets, small databases and writing letters. Providence, it seems, is more than just a name for a city in Rhode Island.
I believe there’s a lot to be said for maintaining childlike faith, no matter one’s age. I mentioned in last month’s column that I had spent the last year as the business manager of a private, non-profit elementary school. I enjoyed the work but I most enjoyed interacting with the children. It was an opportunity to revisit lessons I had forgotten a long time ago.
There’s an uncluttered wisdom among school children. They spend their day observing and learning about themselves, each other and the vast world around them. Elementary school is a place where we are taught that dreams do come true. It’s also the place where we learn that being diligent, conscientious and honest has a lifetime of rewards. Why adults forget these lessons is a question for the ages.
I don’t know what was involved in creating the iMac, but a childlike faith in the outcome of their hard work must have inspired the designers. It has a simple, all-in-one design and is unlike any other personal computer on the market today. It’s no wonder so many iMacs will be used in schools. Apple Computer may sell a million iMacs before the end of the Christmas season.
It was now Saturday morning, August 15th. Matthew and Jessica wondered what was on the day’s agenda. I kept the iMac a secret. After Matthew’s basketball game we headed to the store. They thought iMacs were only sold at CompUSA. They were about to be pleasantly surprised. “Wow, it’s an iMac!” shouted Matthew. “Daddy, look!” said his sister. They ran into the store and promptly plopped themselves in front of the iMac on display. A few moments later Matthew was climbing the boxes of iMacs in the center of the store. It was a picture perfect moment. Fortunately, I keep a disposable camera in the glove box of the car. “Be Prepared” is a motto that works for everyone, not just clean-cut young men dressed in Boy Scout green.
The vendor knew that the introduction of the iMac presented an opportunity to sell other products and services to an enthusiastic iMac clientele. My kids waited patiently while they installed the 32 MBs of additional RAM and configured the control panels for the ISP service they sold me at a discount price. Matthew was busy playing the bundled dinosaur game on the display unit and Jessica was wandering through the racks looking for children’s games. By bedtime, the free iMac T-shirts given to my kids had become that evening’s sleepwear.
I’m grateful to Steve Jobs and the Apple design team for developing a low-priced, easy-to-use, all-in-one computer. Not only is the iMac stylish, its performance will leave very few people disappointed. I’m not sure if this Jetson-like computer is “Back to the Future” or, recalling the original Macintosh, a step forward to the past. What I do know is that the iMac represents “Think Different” in motion. Apple Computer’s advertising slogan is different. In my own mind, the two-word, grammatically incorrect phrase has spawned a number of variations: be different, try different, do different and, perhaps, love different. Lack of conformity need not mean rebellion.
The iMac is only the beginning of a long line of new products from the people at Apple. Soon we will see new desktops, new PowerBooks and the release of a low-cost consumer portable that combines the sophistication of the Mac OS with the functionality of the eMate. The iMac clearly represents an evolutionary product for a revolutionary company.
It has been an interesting week as an iMac owner. The kids have enjoyed their new computer and we’ve had many fun moments playing games and learning new things together. As a single parent my life is filled with baseball, basketball, hair berets and Slurpees. The iMac is a wonderful addition to our very active lives.
Last night I was at church for a prayer meeting. We prayed for each other, our country, the President of the United States and members of Congress. We prayed for world peace and greater understanding among world leaders. It may be childlike faith that gives us hope.
I took a break from the meeting to call my kids. I stepped outside the church, dialed their mother’s number on my cell phone and waited patiently for an answer. Before the conversations ended I told my former wife that that I bought the kids an iMac. This wasn’t news to her, but it was new to hear things like this from me. Without pausing, I told her it was something I thought we should share. I thanked God for the grace to attentively hear the desires expressed by my children. I also thanked Him for often hearing the desires of my heart rather than the sometimes-confusing words on my lips.
Maybe there is something to the power of prayer. It has a way of changing hearts and minds. Do different, be different, and think different. It all seems very child-like to me. This Saturday morning I dropped off the iMac and Matthew’s basketball uniform. I went home and saw the empty desk. I noticed my daughter’s hair beret sitting motionless on the counter. I got back in the car and drove to Matthew’s basketball game. On the way home I thought to myself, “Am I nuts?” “No!” I relied. “Just think different, have a little faith and don’t worry about tomorrow.” I took a right, went into the 7-11 and bought myself a Slurpee. Maybe child-like faith can move mountains, even if it’s one iMac at a time. Matthew’s picture may prove it.
Also in This Series
- Good Morning America, How Are You? · October 2003
- Martians in the Manholes · February 2001
- The Golden Touch · May 2000
- Three Kids and an iMac · February 2000
- How? · November 1999
- Apples, Kids, & Attitude · August 1999
- Play Ball! · May 1999
- A Time For Change · February 1999
- New Year, New Times · January 1999
- Complete Archive