In my mind there lives a collection of robot children. They look just like my children but they act nothing like them. The robot children do exactly what I tell them to do. They listen when I am speaking. They are kind to each other. They do chores without being told more than once. Why? Because I programmed them to. Isn't it wonderful?
When I go upstairs to do the treadmill, I give the robot children strict instructions to do their schoolwork. I plant the youngest robot child in front of Noggin and instruct her to watch a show for a mere 30 minutes. She complies, sitting still for the entire time. She does not get down as soon as I have left the room, tear off all the couch cushions, and build a fort with her brother (who is supposed to be working in another room), completely ignoring the tv. That would be against her programming.
When I give the oldest instructions to make lunch while I shower after my treadmill time, the child immediately and efficiently whips up sandwiches for all. This child does not complain or try to bribe her brother to do the job for her. When it's time to eat, the robot children file into the kitchen, sit in their chairs, eat their lunches, and do not scarf down the Pringles and throw bread crusts all over the kitchen. They do not get out of their chairs and decide (now!) to stand in front of the tv and eat, dropping chip crumbs all over the carpet. The carpet that was, of course, just vacuumed.
When I ask robot children to do their schoolwork, they just sit right down and do it. No fussing, no whining, no asking a million questions, and no getting up to chase each other around the house screaming at the top of their lungs. They do not cause their mother to raise her voice just to be heard in the midst of the ruckus. She never has to scream, "Somebody's going to get hurt!" as they zip past her, carrying some sort of sharp object.
Yes, these robot children are ideal-- but then again, a robot child wouldn't be able to laugh or sing or exude warmth like my human children do. They might be unpredictable, uncontrollable, unruly and unstoppable... but then again, would I want them any other way? The robot children make a nice fantasy, but I would miss the reality. I know it wouldn't be long before I would want my real children back-- complete with their real mess, real noise, real attitudes, real smiles, and real moments. Every single one.