You’ve probably seen those commercials from an insurance provider where someone throws a challenge flag, and an instant replay crew comes running in to show what really happened.
As far-fetched as that premise is, we recently added instant replay to our home, and it’s amazing as parents.
As a Christmas gift, my mother-in-law gave us a small security camera we installed in a long room that includes our dinette set and our kitchen. We’d been curious about our dogs’ actions when no one was home. We were concerned with our youngest daughter’s appetite at dinner and that perhaps she’d eat too many snacks after school.
Sure, it sounds like a nanny state, but we gave up that worry years ago when we installed Alexa devices all over the house. (Sure, she’s listening to everything we say, but she can turn lights on and off for us, crack jokes and inform us about the weather from nearly any room.) As we’ve taught our children about their interactions with the law, if you haven’t done anything wrong, you don’t have any reason to worry.
It’s been like having a red challenge flag at our disposal, with the ability to further review things at any moment from the comfort of our phones.
A few days after we set up the camera, we came back from an event in the evening and found one daughter’s holiday gingerbread house had a premature demolition. A quick review of the tape found the culprit. The puppy in the house definitely did it, and he also decided to sit on top of our kitchen table for several minutes.
After a thorough scrubbing of the table, we decided he’s not allowed near the table when we’re not home and put him behind a gate in our laundry room.
We also learned that another dog of ours, who joined our household just before the pandemic hit and thus grew up expecting there to be people in the house all day and all night, patiently sits staring at our front door, waiting for us to come home.
It was like learning “The Secret Life of Pets” was all true, aside from the talking dogs and the mischief on the streets of the city.
It’s helped with our children too. Earlier this week we saw our suspicions realized about our youngest daughter’s eating habits. She didn’t eat much dinner because she treated the first 20 minutes after she came home from school as an all-you-can-eat buffet of snacks. Now she knows that her mom, like Roz in Monsters Inc., is watching, always watching. It gave us a good chance to talk to her about portion control.
It really can be a good learning tool for even an experienced parent. I unfortunately had to deliver a heart-to-heart talk about the importance of being responsible and doing what you said you were going to do, and I offered it within earshot of the camera. Out of curiosity, I reviewed the footage and saw what my child saw, and I took some mental notes on how to stay on point without being repetitive if a similar conversation happens again.
It’s also helpful when I can’t remember if I’d let the dogs out at the end of the day or to answer questions about who left the milk out. There it is, in living color, on the recording.
I’m sure the novelty will wear off, and someday I’ll dread something I said or did within view of the camera. But since I’ve written these words out of its range, I still have plausible deniability that I ever said it. That means it’s not eligible for review.