White Out

Typewriters. They have captured Manchild’s imagination. We told him they came before computers. We told him they are like a computer and a printer in one, but only for writing things. We told him that when you ran out of paper, all you had to do was load another piece. Awesome! Magical! Amazing!

But of course there was still so much unknown about this “typewriter” thing of which we spoke. Like, did it have a delete button?

And so it was that I found myself describing white out to my 5-year-old.

“It’s like a white paint,” I said. “And when it dries you can type over it.”

“So when you push the button, white paint comes out?” he asked.

“Oh, no, there’s no button. It’s a little tube that is entirely different from the typewriter. You can buy them at office supply stores. Or at least you used to be able to. I have no idea if you still can,” I said, somewhat at a loss for how someone his age might contextualize something so archaic. “Actually, I think they also had something that was like a white tape that you could tape over your mistakes.”

I could tell his mind wasn’t truly grasping the concept. But such is life. I’m prepared to deal with such curiosity over things like pay phones, real TV (that you can’t pause or fast forward), VHS, record players, cassette tapes and possibly even radios.

Have you ever had a moment when you said, “Oh, my dear sweet child, you really have no idea what that is, do you?” Do tell.

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  1. Actually, my mom’s fancy typewriter DID have a delete and had correction tape. But how funny to think about the things our kids will never know!


  2. Hey, Simon, shall we pull out a few of these things at Christmas when you’re here? — and have some fun! I don’t have a typewriter anymore, but do have a few of the other things your Mom mentioned. 🙂 Love, Grandma H


  3. Maps. Real ones. We look at them but, mostly use our GPS. And being able to video chat with people. That’s the norm at our house. My son gets frustrated that we can’t rewind songs on the radio like we can on the iPod. 🙂


  4. Perhaps not exactly what you were looking for, but you covered the record player and typewriter, which I made a point to show my son, but he was almost in middle school when, as an only child, he was introduced to the concept of a hand-me-down, when he received a winter jacket from his cousin.


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