I visited my daughter and son-in-law in an adjoining state last weekend. We had a great Friday night, dinner and a movie. We got home moderately...

Share story

I visited my daughter and son-in-law in an adjoining state last weekend. We had a great Friday night, dinner and a movie. We got home moderately late and prepared to turn in.

“I just need to check my e-mail,” I said. My daughter said that would be impossible, as they had shut off Internet service to the house since my last visit.

My response was quick. “You’re joking, right?” After all, this was the same kid who filled a sleeping, sunburned exchange student’s palms with shaving cream and then tickled his nose with a feather.

Most Read Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

But she wasn’t kidding, even though it took me a while to suspend my disbelief.

The action, it turned out, came from a desire to manage the informational flow. Both of them work long hours and hard days. They usually come home to eat, sleep and watch a little TV. They don’t need e-mail to stay in touch. If people really need to reach them they can just use the telephone. Their home is a safe, sheltered place, and they don’t need to stay connected to business contacts.

This is a far cry from how I live, where the computer lets out a big toot audible throughout the house every time some mail arrives. This can be useful, but instills some bad conditioning. I hear the toot and run downstairs, only to learn that yet another needy foreigner wants to go into partnership.

It did take me a while to get to sleep that Friday night, only because I was wondering who had contacted me since the last time I was able to log on — just seven hours ago. I was able to drift off after developing a plan. The next day I would find an America Online disk and create a temporary account just to perform the weekend’s mail transactions.

We talked about it a bit more the next day. I asked the parental question, all about money, and this turned out to be part of the reason. They had been using dial-up trough NetZero, which costs less than your average weekly coffee tab. DSL costs a lot more. But the fact is, if the service was important, they would find a way to make it happen.

That day we were running errands, and I expressed the need for the AOL disk to prevent a recurrence of the previous night’s restlessness. But my daughter said no.

“You don’t need this, we run an Internet-free house,” she said. “Why does this bother you so much?”

This was a bit of a catharsis. It’s always cool to see the kids grow up, but it’s not so cool to see them enforce the law. Maybe this was some kind of payback.

“I like having things simple,” she said. “Everything else is complicated. We love our simple house. Our simple life. Our seven channels of free TV. When we are home we want to eat, sleep and play with the dog. We don’t need to be connected.”

Good for you, kid. I may not agree with this decision, but it would be hypocritical to preach thinking for yourself for a lifetime and then be unwilling to live with the consequences.

After patting myself on the back for being so tolerant, I landed in Seattle. I didn’t leave the airport for home immediately, but rather basked in 45 minutes of wireless bliss.

If you have questions or suggestions for Charles Bermant, you can contact him by e-mail at cbermant@seattletimes.com. Type Inbox in the subject field. More columns at www.seattletimes.com/columnists.