I was thinking back to my childhood recently as I was fighting my kids over computer time. We just purchased a new computer a couple of weeks ago so we’re all very excited over getting to know it. This is the first computer we’ve bought in about 11 years — I know, hard to believe myself. Our old Mac finally quit, for good — otherwise, I’m sure we’d still be fighting over that tired, old bubble. I’ve thought about getting my two oldest kids laptops. I say it’s to help with their school work but really, I need face time with the keyboard.
When I was in middle school, I remember my best friend getting a computer for her home. Some of you will remember what a true phenomenon this was back in the early 80’s. The Commodore 64. It was — at the time — the most incredible thing I had ever seen. It plugged directly into the television. I remember playing some rat race game on it and I remember being able to type things on it (of course, there was no printer so the typing was fairly pointless). When I started high school, everyone wanted to take the computer classes. We had those Radio Shack machines and learned to write programs where you could guide the tank around and blow things up.
In college, we had to send our papers to a typist — they were usually the only ones with access to a word processor much less any type of printing capabilities (unless you were lucky enough to have a parent with a secretary). But my sophomore year, a girl arrived in the dorms with a computer and a printer. We all flocked to her room and did whatever we could to become her best friend — she never let anyone but her roommate use that thing. Trips to the library, late at night, to finish papers were never-ending.
When my husband and I got married, his mother bought him a word processor. It could print the papers out — amazing. Of course, I had already completed my undergraduate degree… but, it did come in handy as I helped write his papers. Then finally, as I was beginning my graduate studies — we purchased our first real home computer — printer, internet access, the full package. I still remember sitting down to that bubble Mac and being amazed — it came with a CD encyclopedia. I watched the Hindenburg explode and Martin Luther King speak at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and Billie Jean King win the Battle of the Sexes — all right there from that disk on my computer. Access to the internet was mind-blowing — even though it took nine minutes to begin and the only thing available was AOL — but still, it was incredible.
My father bought a computer a couple of years before he passed away. He researched computers for months before he found the right one. Since he was already retired, we weren’t really sure what he was looking for in his computer — but watching him study all the brands and types, creating grids and flowcharts, was quite humorous. He ended up getting one that — I believe — had enough capabilities to guide the next shuttle launch.
He used it for pictures.
Really good pictures.
Pictures of his kids and grandkids, vacations, holidays … everyday. There are hundreds of pictures stored on that computer. He developed albums and added goofy captions to them. He used it to create a pictorial legacy — much better than a shuttle launch. That computer crashed a few months ago — I have faith that some computer tech can fix it. I’ve got to get it fixed.
I have to admit, sometimes I make up reasons to ground my kids from the new computer so I can get some time on it (of course, I won’t be able to use this parenting technique anymore now that I’ve outed myself). So here I sit, hoping the Vampire Diaries stay on long enough for me to finish a thought, contemplating buying laptops in the name of improved grades. Once again, I’ve discovered something I’m doing that has the appearance of being a great parent, but, in actuality, is out of sheer selfishness.
But, I cherish this new computer. I completely covet it when my kids are using it — I’m constantly thinking about what I’m going to do once my turn comes around. My kids will one day recount stories of the computer they had when they were young and how all their mother did on it was write stories.
In the mean time, as I ever so patiently wait for my turn, I can jot down thoughts on the iPhone — another amazing piece of technology (one that my husband regrets ever surprising me with). Unfortunately, the kids have taken it to play games on at the moment .
Those additional laptops seem like a great idea.