Posted by: cassymuronaka | March 18, 2011

Technology and parents

As I imperturbably walked my 85-year-old mother through how to attach a standard photo or document to an email today, for the 994,387,458th time, I rocked back in my desk chair and thought about the amount of positive energy my son continually feels he must muster in order to help me navigate such foreign concepts as the Wii workout programs and how to listen to a movie through my stereo speakers.

My offpsring’s response to me is considerably less warm and enveloping than the blanket of patience I try to throw my mother, who was born the same year that Calvin Coolidge became the first President of the United States to have his inauguration broadcast on radio.

In another time and another place, my mother, who still boasts a mind like a steel trap, could have been president of the United States herself, but the entire concept of a computer and its applications has eluded her, despite the enormous resources she has had at hand during the last two decades: one photographer/writer, one photographer/computer systems manager, one writer, one lawyer/writer and three techno-savvy grandsons now all in high school or college.

My patience level for that sieve that she reserves in her brain for all computer functions is not always as high as it was today.  “Where are the notes that you took last time!?” I have been known to shriek. This explosion usually follows an extended conversation that began with her explaining in great detail that, “The little blue thingy in that tiny gray box said no and I can’t send the photo to the Beautification Committee and now that rainbow spinning thing won’t let me do anything and that makes me just so damn mad because I did what you told me to last time and….oh.. oh.. oh.. what did I do, what did I just do?”

Just finding a language that we both can speak together to solve these problems is a challenge.  Forget even trying to use the words “dialogue box,” “application,” and “folder.”  Think “blue thingy” or “rainbow spinning thing.”

It is clear to me that my son feels the same way about me as I do about my mother.  Because I generally can do techno-speak and can walk the walk in my professional life, he probably is infinitely more frustrated by me being brought to my knees by something as simple as burning a CD or DVD, which, I admit, I was quite lazy in learning to do for a long long time.

Lately, I have suffered a great deal of eye-rolling and giant, unrestrained sighs regarding simple questions I have made about iTunes lists that I wish to transfer to my pod or albums that I want to record and make into CDs.

My husband, a techno-god who tosses instruction manuals over his shoulders where others dare to read, is particularly incensed that I still don’t know how to turn off the green number “3” that magically appears on one of our television screens when I sit on the TiVo remote or hit the wrong button.  He hates the fact that I don’t even notice the 3, much less learn how to make it go away.

You would think that I would learn how to do that, if for no other reason than to  just shut him up. But no.

In spite of the technological mental obstacles that have been placed in the paths of both my mother and me, I really marvel at what life threw at my two grandmothers, one of whom was born in 1896 and the other in 1903. Both women lived very long lives, dying at 87 and 94 respectively.

In their lifetimes, these women essentially watched a country move from candles to electricity to nuclear power.  By the time they had died, Microsoft Word was released for the first time, and NASA announced the appointment of its first female Shuttle commander.

Talk about having to absorb a lot of information in a short amount of time.



  1. Beautifully written article, Cassy. Please say hello to your mother for me. I think I haven’t seen her since the mid-1960’s but with her memory she might remember me.

  2. Great post. My mom flat out refuses to learn while my dad is on the Internet ALL THE TIME.

  3. Mom has a laptop which she never uses. But we walked into a Mac store to see about the iPad for her…and she totally gets it. Cassy, maybe you haven’t jumped far enough ahead in the tech curve?

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