MAN OF THE HOUSE BY CHRIS ERSKINE

What's a family beach trip without text messaging?

"Me too," says his sister.

"That's just your father," explains Posh.

It's been blasting hot back at the house, the sun streaming through the kitchen skylight like the devil's smile. I have a victory garden going near the patio and I'm not even sure whom we're fighting (other than the corporations and the government). So their mother and I are so glad to get out of the house, if only for a day.

Even the little girl is with us, she of all the social obligations. She's usually so busy with friends, tennis and those gadgets she's always carrying around, half of which I don't even understand. They buzz, beep, belch and schnarffffff. They do everything but produce unpleasant fumes.

"Taylor says hi," the little girl reports from the back seat.

Yeah, whatever. I now have several new names for my younger daughter. "Little Miss Greenhouse Gases," for the way she's always forgetting to turn off the lights in her room. And "Gadget," like Gidget, except that her beach toys are iPods and cellphones instead of boys and surfboards. Gadget watched the July 4th fireworks at Laguna Beach with one eye on the sky and the other on her cellphone, waiting for a text message from Amanda.

Amanda? Now, I've actually seen some of the text messages from Amanda, and they're hardly worth waiting for. In person, Amanda is a charming and almost magnetic presence. I see in her traces of Marie Antoinette and maybe even Carrie Underwood. But I wouldn't sacrifice one moment of fireworks pleasure to await a text message from Amanda.

What's with these kids? I predict they will become the first generation to elect an iPod as their president.

"Oh my God!" Gadget shouts while tapping furiously on her cellphone.

"What now?" sighs her mother.

"I misspelled July Fourth to about 12 of my friends!" Gadget says. "Oh my God!"

I love her unconditionally. I loved her when she was in utero. I loved her before cellphones were born.

Chris Erskine can be reached at chris.erskine@latimes .com. For more columns, see latimes.com/erskine.
 

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