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Home is where the smart is

  • By Clay Neely
  • |
  • Sep. 23, 2021 - 1:20 PM

Home is where the smart is

Clay Neely is co-publisher and managing editor of The Newnan Times-Herald. He can be reached at

After 17 years of marriage, I’m okay with telling my wife “you were right.”

What’s been a struggle is telling my 12-year-old son the same thing.

Earlier this year, he begged us for an air fryer.

“Miss Jovanca has one and it can make corn dogs in like sixty seconds,” he said.

Despite the fact he can’t stand corn dogs, he assured us the air flyer would be a game changer in our household.

In many ways, he sees himself as the concierge of this household, working his way up to middle management. He anticipates the needs, but mainly the wants, of our house.

I attributed a lot of this to growing up in a world seemingly more materialistic than ever. I assume he’s watching YouTube videos of cool stuff and then, understandably, lobbying management to see if it can become part of our household.

In many ways, this is where our “family meetings” began. My son creates a powerpoint presentation on his laptop, streams it to our family television and opens the floor up to any questions.

He loves technology, is bored by history and good at math. He was born into a right-brained family, so we’re all pleased at any signs of math proficiency.

Add to that his persistent penchant for salesmanship, we really can’t figure out where this kid came from.

So when the issue of the air flyer came up, his mother and I decidedly balked at the proposition - not enough counter space, and (my favorite go-to excuse) we don’t need it.

Well, he managed to liberate one from his grandparents house and soon our toaster had been cast into the dustbin of history. He cooked some fries in a matter of minutes. Fine.

“But you see, it doesn’t heat up the kitchen like the oven,” he said, playing to my desire for cooler temperatures in the house.

I figured we’d entertain the new gadget for a week.

I guess things started to change the day I tried to make some biscuits in the air fryer. I placed a half dozen tea biscuits inside and, to my amazement, took them out in five minutes, perfectly cooked.

“Sorcery,” I told myself.

Next, he brought home a shaved ice maker from his grandparents. Repeat previous scene.

“Where are we going to put this,” we asked him incredulously. “How often do you anticipate making snow cones anyway?”

Not too often, it turns out, since his mother is using it every night to make bowls of shaved ice for a TV snack. Without syrup… without anything.

It’s certainly not my cup of tea, but that machine sure stays busy.

Add to that our Ring cameras and smart home apps that turn our patio lights on. When he attempted to call a family meeting to discuss the new Apple OS, I had to draw the line.

I tell him how great it was growing up without the Internet. He smiles politely.

His journey into middle school is now underway, but I’m very grateful to have a son who shows us that technology and imagination aren’t exclusive.

His gift for playing with others hasn’t waned in the least, so, despite the additional tech in the home, it’s a happy place to be. And that’s the point, right?


Clay Neely is co-publisher and managing editor of The Newnan Times-Herald. He can be reached at