Confessions of a luddite mom: or, how my secret weapon has taught me well

Okay, okay, I know I’m mixing metaphors or what have you in my title, but you trying living with a Smug Teen.

It’s hard out there when your knowledge of technology reaches its limits with knowing how to program the VCR , being able to turn on and off your computer and being able to send a text. It’s even harder when the prodigy offspring is Smug, Teen, and way more knowledgeable than you in these areas, and loves to rub it in.

I’m sure I wasn’t that bad when I was a teen. I’ll ask Mum. Actually, no, I won’t, because she’ll probably launch into an avalanche of anecdotes about horribly embarrassing things I did from early childhood right up to and probably also including getting married. And, she’ll somehow find someone to do this in front of.

So, I have the new phone. Thanks to the Smug Teen, I can actually send texts on it. And I can even take photos, answer phone calls, and…well, that’s all I can do. Well, could do, until I discovered this amazing youtube channel.

When the child prodigy was off visiting her father this past weekend, I went out for some much needed drinks with the girls.

Hey, I’m a parent, alcohol is sometimes a necessity. Although, not around the children. But admit it, there are times when they drive you to drink.

A few glasses of wine and I was ready, brave enough if you will, to make my confession.

“I’m hopeless at using this smart phone,” I said to my friends. There may have been a tremble in my voice. Being brave is hard. I drew in a deep breath. “Actually, I’m…I’m hopeless at all forms of technology.”

My friend Fiona, someone I’ve known since high school let forth a weird sound, muffled by her hurried gulp of wine. I gave her a long, slideways look, full of suspicion.

I mean, it sounded like either a snort of derision, or laughter.

“What?” I said, hand tight on the wine glass stem. “I’m making a confession here. I’m letting you know my secret . I suck at all things technical.”

Emma nodded, wisely keeping her mouth shut. Fiona, on the other hand rolled her eyes and then put her hand on my arm.

“Maddy, we know. It’s not exactly a secret.”

“It’s not?” I mean, okay, I didn’t go around with a copy of whatever computer magazine was popular these days (do ultra tech people buy magazines still? Or do they read them online? Or did they download the information straight to some fancy device?)

“No,” Fiona said, gently pouring me another glass of wine. “It’s sort of, well, obvious.”

“It is?”

“Anyone who in this day and age uses one of those old stone age brick mobile phones that are pretty much prehistoric fossils, and barely understands texting is not going to be a tech-head, in any shape or form.” Fiona settled back.

I narrowed my eyes. Did she have that same air of smugness my child got about her when it came to these things? I took a big sip of the wine. “I didn’t think it was so obvious.”

“It…isn’t,” said Emma, her gaze flickering away for a moment. “But, I know what you’re going through. I’m not good at all this stuff, all this new stuff. TwitterFacebook, and now this new Google + thing…”

Google PLUS? What is that? Super Google? Google with superpowers? Oh, oh dear, she was still talking. I nodded in what I hoped was an engaged, intelligent and thoughtful manner.

“And it’s all on our phones now, more, even. Phones,” Emma said, leaning in, her voice dropping to a serious and low note, “are not just for calls and texts anymore.”

Fiona nodded. “This is true.”

“I got this.” I showed them the new phone. The one I was too embarrassed to tell them about for the past two weeks because I had had no idea how to use it. Now, thanks to my beloved Smug Teen, I sort of know how to use it. The basics, anyway. Okay, the barest of the bare basics.

They pulled out their phones. They all looked nice. Sleek, sexy black plastic devices that still look like they belong in a futuristic thriller and not some suburban pub, and certainly not having anything to do with me or my life.

“Look,” Fiona said, “this is the future. Welcome. And things are going to get more and more advanced. So you better get used to it.”

“But it’s so complicated and space agey.”

“It is 2011. We should be colonizing Mars by now,” Fiona muttered.

“I can text and answer calls and that’s pretty much it. And actually, trying to make calls are complicated. Making a call shouldn’t be complicated. Neither should adding a contact. It’s like I’m being tested to become a neurosurgeon, but I never studied at all.”

“The thing is,” Fiona said, “Your phone is not a phone anymore. It’s a computer. You need to think of it as a computer. It helps.”

What would help would be more wine. Wine and cheese and no computer space phones from the future.

“Here.” Emma jotted something down on a coaster and handed it to me. “Someone sent this link to me recently. It’s been great with certain things I’ve needed, and I think you’ll love it.”

She’d written down a website. So I agreed I’d look it up if they agreed to not talk about space phones anymore.

So now, I’m sitting at home, waiting for my daughter to get back. And, I know, I know this is really childish of me, but I can’t wait to show her how adept I am at downloading apps (see? Did you see that? It’s like I’m a natural born tech user now…okay, perhaps not natural born, but someone with flair, or, you know, someone who isn’t a complete blathering idiot, crying out for their pen and paper and semaphore flags), IMng, surfing the net.

I’m sure there are other sites similar to the one my friend gave me. And I guess it’s not technically a site, it’s a youtube channel (do you see how good I’m getting at this…compared to before?).

It’s called O2 Guru TV, and for me, it was, and is a revelation. It’s taught me not only how to download apps, but to change settings and do all sorts of things on my phone.

Best of all, I can learn by watching a video, and rewatching, and making notes, and asking the computer really stupid questions that no one hears or mocks. It’s great.

If you click on this following bit (don’t worry, someone put the link in for me, I’m not quite that advanced yet): Guru TV you’ll be able to go and visit the youtube channel. If you’re the kind of parent I am, one who doesn’t really get technology, then this is for you. Because when we have kids, they use the tech, so we need to be able to use it.

After all, how else are we going to be able to tell people hideously embarrassing stories about our offspring if we don’t understand and participate in the world they live in?

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