I adore my mother. Her thick Brooklyn accent, fierce, lioness protector mentality, her propensity toward sappy inspirational quote home decor. I was incredibly lucky to be raised by a smart, warm woman who I’ve always known would be there for me, no matter what crazy bullshit I pull.
Despite my high-school rebelliousness, I’ve always known she was my ally. She raised me alone until I was 11 years old, and I learned from an early age that I could tell her anything and she would unconditionally love me. This resonated so much that in 10th grade, when she picked me up from a Halloween party I got into her car and said, without hesitation, “I am on angel dust, HELP.” She took care of me, and then ripped me a new a-hole the next day when it was appropriate. Thanks, mama.
She has so many strengths and talents, but technology is NOT one of them. Try as she might, she doesn’t understand how the Internet works. Or any technology, for that matter. She only very recently stopped sending me text messages in letter form. Actual example:
Daddy and I are going to Johns Pizza tonight. ARE YOU JEALOUS? Talk later.
Technology definitely appeals to her; she has an iPad and and iPhone, but they are always “broken,” until I come back to visit and “fix them” for her (aka, re-start them or take them off of silent.) She has one song on her iPhone, and it’s “The Rose of Tralalee,” which is Irish Flute Music. She was trying to download the ring-tone.
Watching her search for things is sort of like watching a game of drunk Pin-The-Tail-On-The-Donkey. She was the person who inspired the invention of pop-ups, because she will click on anything in front of her, so you can thank her the next time you hear “Congratulations! You’ve won an iPod touch!” This Christmas, she was complaining about how long everything takes to download.
“Something is wrong with the Intuh-net, Jacqueline.” The use of my full name indicates a serious situation.
I had heard the same complaint a few years ago, when I called her from Virginia Beach and asked her to check Weather.com for me. It had started raining and I wanted to know if I should turn around, or if I could hope for swimming weather. I KID YOU NOT, 25 minutes later, after listening to her read every word on the screen out loud (“Golf Forecast?? Zappos Free Shipping Click Here? Contact Us?? JACQUELINE I DON’T SEE WHERE I PUT IN A ZIPCODE!”) her frustrated conclusion was that she “Must have less Internet than me.”
Turns out, she was kind of right. Upon inspection, the router was 8 years old. One quick call to Comcast and a free upgrade later, I am declared a hero and mom is free to spend the entire day trying to FaceTime me repeatedly while I’m in a meeting. Despite this improvement in “the amount of Internet she has,” she still asks “all one word???” in a panicked tone whenever I give her a web address. No, mom. New paragraph, then dot com.
On Facebook, the idea of a “thread” seems to escape her, so she will often post a comment about a picture or video directly to my wall, instead of on the photo itself. I’ll get a post on my wall that just says “where was this? looks fun. -mom” (or on her own wall, which is even funnier.)
She also doesn’t understand that not everything I post is mine, so I recently got an email that said “The little girl you taped complaining about boys and girls playing with different colored toys was on Channel 7! She’s so cute!” She was, of course, referring to Riley. (Who is AWESOME.)
Two years ago I bought my parents a Roku box and Netflix subscription, but every time I come home to visit, we watch the same VHS copy of "Planes, Trains and Automobiles." I get it, though. I still can’t bring myself to throw away my VHS of "Son in Law." ( <3 Pauly Shore). I guess it runs in the family.
Sometimes the situation works out pretty well for me: I usually end up inheriting the gadgets once she gives up on them. I got my first iPod back when they were a brand new thing because my parents won it in a raffle; my dad handed me the “palm pilot” like a colorblind person handing me a Rubix cube. Take this garbage!
It’s awesome having a best friend whose Mom is also technologically stunted, so we can share these things with each other. Eliot and I copy and paste texts, and fwd the bizarre fwd emails they send us. Yes, Virginia, there are still people who send fwds!
Eliot’s mom fwds warnings: Rises in iPhone theft on the subway, stories of spontaneous combustion, warnings about how dangerous boiling water in the microwave is (yes, really.) My mom steers toward sappy poems about grandmothers, stories about people dying in car accidents “on the only morning they didn’t say I love you before work” and lists of seemingly un-related inspirational quotes. My mom has become my own personal RSS Feed of Chicken Soup for the Reading Glasses Wearing, Recent Retiree Soul.
You gotta give them props for trying, though. We grew up with this world; we are digital natives. My mom is a digital immigrant. A refugee, even. Moms don’t have to be good at the Internet, though. It’s our job to “fix” their iPads when we come home, in exchange for all of the frozen foods they give us and beauty products they let us steal. Or maybe that's just me.