Tuesday, June 24, 2014

No Parent Left Behind

We had an old school 2nd generation iPod sitting around the house that no one was using, so I decided it might be something my mother would enjoy.  I loaded it with a lot of music that I knew she loved....50's, Johnny Mathis, Roger Williams, Josh Groban, hymn arrangements, Elvis, a little piano, ......you know...the kind of music that Mamas listen to.  I got it all filled up and bought her some swanky, new headphones as I didn't really see her as the earbud type.  Anyway, Blair and I took it over to her a week or two ago and proceeded to give her a lesson on how to use it.  I knew that schooling her on a new electronic device wouldn't be an easy task, knowing her struggles with computers and cellphones and such, but we gave it a whirl.

"Ok, Mama.......now you just press the center of this dial to turn it on and then press the bottom of the dial to play it and then press it again if you want to pause it.  Now if you want to skip to the next song, you just........."

"Wait a minute, wait a minute, hold on", she interrupted, "I can't see what you're doing", she says as she gets up to open her desk drawer.  After plundering around a minute, she pulls out, quite possibly, the biggest magnifying glass I'd ever seen and sits back down next to me.

I continue with my lesson...."so like I was saying, if you want to turn it off, you just hold the bottom of the dial down until it goes black", I explained as she's leaned over the display with her big ol' Inspector Gadget magnifier.  "Ok", she says, "now go back and say that again so I can write it down". 

After a lengthy Q&A session, we finished our instructional time together, but she still seemed unsure. "I'll be getting a lot of calls from her about this", I thought to myself as I left her house that afternoon. 

A day or two later, I asked if she was enjoying the music that I'd compiled for her.  I waited anxiously for all the accolades and emotional testimony on how it had brightened her days and brought joy to her soul, when she says, "Well now, I tried playing it, but nothing happens when I press it like you said to do.  It lights up, but no sound comes out".   We quickly got that problem figured out when I realized she'd somehow flipped the "Hold" switch.  With all the kinks worked out, or so I thought, I called her back this afternoon, curious to see how the whole iPod experience was going.  "Well, I turned it on yesterday and almost blew my ears out!" she complained. "Well, Mama, I showed you how to turn it down, remember?" I reminded her   

I was afraid this might be a challenge, but I guess I never thought it would be this difficult. I don't know why I'm surprised though.  Because both of my sisters-in-law work in computer related vocations, it has fallen their lot through the years to field her computer questions concerning blinking lights, security alerts, and emails that won't open.  This is a part-time job in itself.....one that I'm sure the good Lord has taken note of and recorded in the column under their names.      

Each generation eventually gets left behind by the world of technology.  I am reminded frequently of how my technological boat is starting to take on water.  I accompanied Blair to the Apple store to purchase an iPad a year or so ago.  As the young woman, who looked to be 12, explained the specs of the gadget to us, she seemed to be speaking in a foreign tongue.  I could hear her talking, but it was incomprehensible to me....kind of like Charlie Brown's teacher with just a few familiar words popping up every now and then......"Wa wa wa was wa......wa wa wa wa wa wa wa wa 32 gigabyte wa wa wa wa memory wa wa wa wa wa wa wa wa Wi-Fi wa wa wa wa wa wa."  She explained how we could create a hot spot and I, wanting to appear minimally intelligent, shook my head affirmatively and murmured a "mmm hmmm".....indicating that I knew exactly how that was done and that there was no need for further explanation.  I wasn't exactly sure what a hot spot was, but it didn't sound like something you'd be interested in your daughter having.

Everyone in the Apple store was so young and cool. You know....boys with shoulder length hair tucked behind their ears and girls with small butterfly tattoos on the inside of their wrists.  Their badges read names like Ridge and Chaney....very, very cool.  I'm sure they wanted to ask Blair, "So....like why did you bring your grandma?"  I must have appeared as obsolete as a floppy disk to them or either they were tired of hearing me say "mmmm hmmm" to everything, because I was soon cut out from the discussion completely and they all continued their conversation in the foreign tongue.  I think had I passed out, fallen to the floor with my skirt over my head and my hair on fire, no one there would have noticed.

I get those same feelings when I go into the cellular service store and they start talking about iClouds and software updates.  I recently received an email warning me that my cloud was almost full.  How can something that you don't know how to use be almost full?  I mean I can work all of my devices, but not near to their maximum potential.....it's more an advanced beginner level at which I operate.  And I could almost feel the condescension from "Brandon with the goatee" that time the kids were both gone and I had to go in to ask why I'd stopped getting text alerts on my new phone.  Brandon with his savvy airs just swiped, swiped, swiped with his eyes rolled back in his head, disengaging my "Do Not Disturb" setting.  I don't think the door shut behind me good before the break room was filled with laughter.                       

I remember when I would come home from college in the late 80's and have to set the VCR for my parents....the one that was always flashing 12:00.  And I remember how long it took us to convince my mother that she didn't have to turn her cell phone off after each use to avoid running the battery down.      

Now it's my turn to start feeling overwhelmed.  My kids are beginning to get that same sympathetic look towards Davis and me when the darn iPhone changes the whole meaning of our texts with its autocorrect and when I overuse emojis and when I send them a text that was meant for someone else and when ....well, you get the idea.                 

One generation helps the one before it and the one behind it comes along to help them.  The smartphone generation helps the cordless phone generation, who helps the rotary dial generation, who once helped the hand crank phone generation.

If we all stick together, we will make it.

No parent left behind.

She ain't heavy, she's my mother.



  1. Hahahaha!!! Yes.....so true!! I could see somebody making a very funny commercial out of this post! My 8 year-old has to help me with all manner of technology...TV, Wii, tablet, etc. and I'm 45. I'm so ashamed.

    1. It's humiliating, isn't it, Dawn? :( Hahaha

  2. I just had to laugh at this! I remember helping my granny set the VCR to record her soaps. She would write down every step. When it invariably didn't work, I'd go back and she'd pull out those chicken scratch notes she had made the time before when I showed her. I already see that my boat is taking on a little water too. My 16 year old can do technological things so much quicker that I can. I always tell her to do it slow because I want to know how to do it myself. I don't just want her to fix it. I hope she will come home from college when I can't get things to work right!

    1. Hahaha......Let's hope they won't forget us, Fancy Ranci :)