Three words: Cabbage Patch Dolls. It's all I ever wanted for any birthday, holiday, or eat-your-broccoli bribery gift. I made it quite easy for my parents. In fact, they didn't even have to decide on blondes versus brunettes or Asians versus African Americans. My only requirement was that they were bald.

Fast forward 20-something years later, and I'm now watching my daughter in the playground as I chat with other moms. The topic? What to buy our kids for the holidays. The consensus? A mini iPad.

Truth be told, I was only a partial participant in this conversation. In fact, I had already completed my holiday shopping. My daughter's first doll (not to worry, an upgrade from the beloved bald Cabbage Patch) would be arriving by week's end, along with some puzzles, blocks, and shares in Elmo stock.

But as I listened to these other moms, I wondered, was I in the wrong? Everywhere I look, kids are swiping and tapping, swiping and tapping. My own parents are still double-clicking their way through the World Wide Web, yet my 18 month old daughter can easily decipher between her dad's Blackberry and iPhone. Only problem is, I'm in complete denial over it.

Rewind back to 1986 when parents were still parents and the TV, VCR, and Atari were the hot topics of technology. Twenty-seven years ago, Leslie Elgort, a published writer, an un-savvy techie, and my very own loving mother, had written an editorial in PARENTGUIDE News on the love-hate relationship between her family and 80s technology:

First there was the TV, then came the cable box and the Atari. It didn't take long to discover how incomplete our lives had become without a VCR. And then one night I arrived home to find the TV hooked up to the Hi-Fi — Edith Bunker was screaming at Archie. In stereo. In my living room. Modern technology had moved in.

I can't imagine what life was like before television. Did families really gather around the radio after dinner and smile at one another while sipping steaming mugs of hot cocoa? The only time my family "gathers" around the radio is when we're in the car, and it's hardly cause for cocoa. Instead of smiling, my children are usually complaining. All I ever hear is, "Change the station," "I hate this song," and "I have to go to the bathroom."

My son has been a TV addict since birth. I often wonder if he was eavesdropping while nestled comfortably in my womb. Every time he kicked or squirmed from deep within my belly, I was sure he was trying to tell me to change the channel. I'm surprised he wasn't born clutching a remote control.

Whenever I try to talk to my children while they're watching television, they look at me with glazed eyes. I once overheard my 10-and-a-half-year-old son trying to teach his 4-year-old sister how to tell time. If Mash is on, he explained, it's 7 o'clock. If Fonzie's on, he continued, it's 7:30. And then he told her that she didn't have to know how to tell time after 8 o'clock because that's when she went to sleep. How simple it is when you're 10, and life is one big sitcom.

The television that I grew up with no longer exists. The Lone Ranger and Howdy Doody have been replaced by He Man and Hulk Hogan's Rocking and Wrestling. The first time my son saw a re-run of Gilligan's Island, he was beside himself. If he got stuck on a desert island, he wanted to know, would he get cable? At least I take comfort in knowing he'll always love Lucy.

When I found my children watching test patterns long before sunrise one morning, it was time to put my foot down. No TV for 10 days, I said. "Did that include the Atari and the VCR?" they wanted to know. Why was everything that mattered to them hooked up to a television set?

I walked through the door that first night after a long day at work and was deafened by the silence. My children greeted me at the door and for the next three hours followed me everywhere I went. They replaced passive TV watching with active, non-stop talking. I heard about school, soccer, lunch, woodworking, his science project, her coloring project, the mean teachers, the nice teachers, the book report, the class election, the math test. My son said his homework was done, he'd played with his computer, read two chapters of a book, and built a spaceship.  "Now," he asked, "what should I do?"  I looked at my watch. Only nine days to go.

Somehow, we got through it. Instead of watching TV at dinner, the kids engaged in heated bouts of sibling rivalry. Instead of waking up to cartoons, I woke up to the strains of Motley Crue blasting on the stereo. And always there was the talking.

My children actually learned that there's more to life than Hollywood Squares. It was a valuable lesson. Their adjustment, however, was better than their mother's. I cleaned out closets, washed windows, and brooded. And stared into space wondering if anyone at South Fork had missed me.

Welcome back to 2013, mom. Oh, how times have changed. Your granddaughter just set the DVR to record Sesame Street on a recurring basis. What's DVR you wonder? I'll tell you when you explain what "South Fork" is.

I'll admit, I do remember the test patterns, and I do remember what a privilege it was to watch them. I also remember 7:30pm on Sundays meant Corky Thatcher and Thursdays at 8pm meant Rudy Huxtable. But more than any of it, I remember playing dress up, making collages, and playing with my beloved dolls. We may have had Atari and surround sound, but we also had our imagination and creativity.

And so, my own valuable lesson learned? For as long as Crayola continues to produce crayons and each Fisher Price toy requires 75 batteries, they will be at the top of my holiday shopping list. Unless, of course, my little techie can use her web skills to track down a beautiful, bald, Cabbage Patch baby. Then that mini iPad is all hers.