The Computer Crash

desktoppcIt had been a long day. Kicking off my shoes, I was ready to relax and unwind. I sat down at the computer, licked my lips and eagerly clicked the little envelope icon that would download my email.

My computer froze.

I sat there staring at it for a moment thinking that surely it was a temporary problem. Only another computer addict can really understand. I must have my computer! I rebooted.

I was already in a panic. “It must be a virus,” I concluded. “It has to be virus.” I went to my virus software to download an update. The computer froze again. I felt faint. The “blue screen of death” appeared – a fatal error. “Press any key to continue,” it taunted, so I hit a key.

The screen went black and I CRASHED.

This is bad, very bad, a major computer crash. I don’t have time for this. I want my email; I want to surf. I turned my computer off and rebooted. It came up in Safe Mode. For the computer illiterate among us, that is when the computer will not run but partially reloads Windows to allow you to fix the problem.

Fix the problem? FIX the problem? But I don’t know what to fix!

I restarted it again and again, praying the problem would magically go away, but it didn’t. Finally, I knew – I had to make that call to Computer Support. This was way too complicated for me to figure out. I felt sick. My computer was dead. If it has to go to the shop to be reprogrammed, it means no computer for a week or more. All my valuable files could be lost, and even worse there will be no email.

My heart was pounding and my forehead sweating as I suffered the first round of computer addiction withdrawal.

I grabbed my important papers scattering them everywhere, frantically searching for that 800 number. I was desperate. I thought I was a nerd, but I had totally crashed. I felt the tears begin to swell as I found the 800 number and dialed.

The first tech came on line with a deep southern drawl. I couldn’t understand a word she said. It was embarrassing, especially since I’m southerner too. “Put the Windows CD in; take it out and put in the recovery disk; go to DOS; scan the hard drive for errors.” She didn’t know what she was doing, I concluded. Finally, she decided to let the scan run and let me call back. “No errors found.” That figures.

I called back aggravated. “I need HELP!”

This time I got a geek, a sharp young tech named Josh that knew computers inside and out. I began to breathe again. I could tell he loved a challenge, and I had one for him.

“Go here, go there, and click this, run that, check this, uncheck that. What happened anyhow?” He joked. Nothing seemed to work. I was a basket case, ready for the guys with the straight jacket to come and take me away. “I think you have a corrupted file.” “It’s the video driver,” he said.

I sunk. It sounded hopeless. Josh just kept on working and talking me through the fix. At last, success. SUCCESS! My computer booted! That beautiful Windows music had never sounded so great.

“I think your problem is fixed,” Josh told me.

Thank goodness, somewhere there are young geeks that understand computers and how to make them perform. I was overwhelmed with relief. He said it took an hour. I swear it was more like three.

So here’s a cheer for Josh, where ever he is, and those others like him that listen to the groans and moans of users like me who don’t know what they are doing, but continue paddling upstream in the world of technology, desperately hoping the canoe won’t turn over.

Only another computer addict can really understand.

Copyright 2002 Sheila Moss
Posted in Humor, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

How Hot Is It?

sunIt has really been hot this summer, so hot I’m beginning to wonder if this is Tennessee or if the Sahara Dessert is migrating westward. The heat waves on the sidewalks lately are big enough to surf on. I can’t even remember the last time a cold front moved through. Spring and summer showers seem to sizzle and only create steam.

When I woke up this morning, I had been dreaming of winter. It’s probably because I keep the air conditioner turned down so low that I’m surprised it isn’t demanding overtime pay. The electric company will soon be sending me hate mail for not conserving energy — on the other hand, they should be sending love letters considering the rates they charge nowadays.

“Don’t sweat it,” I think, when I go outside to get in my car. Easy to say, but who am I kidding? I can feel the little rivers of sweat trickling down my back and my clothes starting to stick to me before I can get the car started. This vehicle is hotter than a red Corvette. I really don’t want to pump gas today, but I may stop at the convenience store anyhow. I think they still sell those flavored, slushy, crushed ice drinks.

I should have brought some ice for my overheated forehead, but I doubt if the refrigerator would give up its ice cubes without a struggle on a day like this. Was it only last winter when I said how much I hated ice and snow? Now those are my favorite words, along with “cold, freezing, chilly and sub-zero.”

My thermometer is having hot flashes. Maybe I need a vacation in a cooler place. I’ve heard it’s winter now in Australia. But I’d have to wait until my travel agent comes back from her cruise to Alaska.

Maybe I can go to the supermarket and hang out around the frozen foods section, or go shopping at the mall where it is cool. The air will be so frigid at the malls, however, that the plants will be frozen. The hotter it is outside, the more mall management seems to try to compensate. No wonder people are sick all summer! But it might be worth getting a cold if I were only sure I’d have chills instead of fever.

My main goal in life these days is to stay cool without a crisis. Wonder if the old cliché “cold hands, warm heart” works in reverse? This is one time that taking a cold shower seems like a good suggestion.

Is that a camel caravan on the interstate, or only a heat delusion? I need a drink of cold water. From now on, I’ll carry an ice cooler for emergencies. Would some one call me a paramedic if I get heat exhaustion? Even the beach umbrellas are looking for shade when the weather is like this.

Everyone complains about the weather. Maybe I could join the kids and play in the eruptions of cool water at the fountains on the mall plaza. Why is it that kids get to have all the real fun while adults only get the fun of complaining?

I used to have big, important things to worry about back when the weather permitted. Now my major concern is simply that I’ll run out of frozen yogurt before the day is done.

Copyright 2002 Sheila Moss
Posted in Humor, Rants, Weather | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Daddy’s Garden

paola-garcia-77090For as long as I can remember, daddy always wanted a vegetable garden, a place to grow his own produce. There were a few attempts with this in mind, but the weeds were very determined and his efforts never yielded much more than a few tomatoes. Eventually, life and work took over, and attempts were given up.

I was grown and married by the time mom and dad bought a house on the edge of town with a large empty lot out behind the garage. At last daddy had a place to grow his garden. He studied the seed catalogs that came in the mail and pondered about what he would plant.

Daddy had an old rusty tiller that someone gave him. He piddled with the motor to keep it running. In the spring daddy would plow the earth and get it ready for planting. The garden he planted was far too large for his needs, but he was not actually growing it for the food. He was growing it because he loved to work outside, to smell the fresh earth, and to see the seeds grow into plants and mature.

The garden was a place where you could nearly always find daddy on the weekends or when he was not at work. When I would visit, he would show the grandchildren his garden and the things that were growing. If there were any ripe tomatoes, he might even let the kids pick a few.

Daddy liked to grow a variety of things. That way if one vegetable failed or was eaten by the garden pests, he had other things to tend. In early spring he planted lettuce and green onions; later he would plant tomatoes and pepper plants, potatoes, beets, turnip greens, and green beans. He grew cucumbers for pickles, and squash and okra that mother would roll in cornmeal and fry in her iron skillet. Daddy didn’t grow corn because it took too much room and because the crows always ate it anyhow.

During the summer, you could never visit without dad telling mom, “Hon, give her some of those tomatoes to take home.” Daddy always grew far more than they could possibly eat, even though mother would freeze green beans, and anything else that could be frozen, and put it in the big freezer in the utility room. If it couldn’t be frozen, it could probably be pickled or canned in a mason jar.

Surplus produce was given to neighbors, friends, relatives, acquaintances, strangers or anyone else that wanted it. Later, the garden’s bounty was taken to the senior citizen center where seniors waited like vultures to see what dad would bring next. It pleased him to be able to give away the fruits of his labor.

When the rabbits came to sample the garden, daddy built an old wooden fence out of scrap lumber to keep them out. The rabbits probably rolled over laughing at it and hopped through a crack, but there was enough for the rabbits and everyone else he knew anyhow.

It must have been a lot of work to tend a garden so large, but daddy did it year after year until he became too old to work in the garden any more. The garden became smaller each year and finally was given up entirely. The last time I saw the garden, grass grew over the spot and there was no sign that a garden had ever been there. Funny, how the patch of land looked so much smaller than it did when daddy had a garden there.

Now daddy’s garden is only a memory and has returned to the earth that it came from. I can still see it in my mind just as it was when it was alive and thriving. And, as long as anyone remembers it, the garden will never die.

Copyright 2013 Sheila Moss
Posted in Crafts/Hobbies, Holidays, Humor, Plants/Gardening | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

The Lightning Bugs

fireflies-at-night-tsuneaki-hiramatsu-6

Beautiful Forest with Fireflies by TSUNEAKI HIRAMATSU 2014 – twistedsifter.com

Firefly season is here. Every year about May or June, people start looking for information on fireflies, or “lightning bugs” as we commonly call them here in the South.

What it is about fireflies that seems to capture the imagination and make people want to understand them. Sure, kids are fascinated, but they are kids. It doesn’t take much to amuse a child.

All of us who grew up where fireflies were plentiful remember running barefoot through the cool grass, chasing the glowing bugs and catching them with our bare hands. Nothing was more thrilling than a jar full of captive sparkling lighting bugs. We were fascinated. We longed to save the beauty forever and hold it in our glass jar, traditionally with holes punched in the top for air.

We sometimes mutilated the bugs looking for the secret to the flash, but were never able to find it. Alas, when night became day, the fireflies were nothing but ugly bugs. We dumped them in disgust. Yet, we would return the next night to try again. Chasing and capturing the fairylike creatures of the night was a summer passtime for children.

Perhaps it is the memories that cause adults to return to look for firefly information, to seek to understand what was not understandable, but remained a source of wonder. Science can explain what we could only ponder about in our childish ways: a mixture of luciferin and luciferase, a chemical reaction between the two, a flash controlled by abdominal muscles.

Our adult mind seeks to comprehend all this, but our heart knows that they are magic! No, we no longer believe in magic because we are adults now and know that there is no such thing. Everything has an explanation and a reason. But the heart of hearts can still wish that it were so.

Here in Tennessee the lightning bugs have appeared. They seemed somewhat earlier this year than normal, perhaps because an unusually warm spring aided with the hatching of the glowworms and the maturing of the fireflies, who are actually beetles with two pairs of wings and not flies at all.

Now that I am older and wiser, I’ve learned that there are hundreds of species of fireflies and several can often be seen together. I’ve learned that moisture is what is needed to keep them alive, not air holes in the top of a jar. I’ve traveled and studied them and read articles, though I’ll freely admit that bugs are not really my forte.

In the western United States, fireflies are rarely, if ever, seen. It is difficult to imagine a warm summer night with no fireflies, California children growing up without the fireflies to light their way to maturity. In most of the states east of Kansas, however, their flashing dance brings joy to even the most seasoned cynic.

The firefly season is here. Take a moment to watch, to smile, to enjoy the simple pleasures. It is but a season, and like childhood, like life and like magic, it will soon be gone.

Copyright 2002 Sheila Moss
Edited
Posted in Creatures, Environment, Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Family Reunion

my familyMy family used to have reunions here in Tennessee. My mother is from a large family and every other year they came from all over the U.S. to get together. Now some people have told me that if their whole family ever got together, it would probably result in a fistfight as so many of them don’t get along. Sometimes grudges are so deep that people don’t even remember why they are feuding.

Our roots go back many years in history to the time when Tennessee was wilderness and not even a state. We all get along with each other, more or less – or at least the ones that don’t get along do not come to reunions. Relatives worry us because they know too much about us. The family knows all of our problems and mistakes.

There seem to be fewer and fewer of us at each reunion. The family tree gets more branches, but as the young twigs become limbs, they are less interested in sharing their acorns. Those that do come are a bit older and their hair a bit whiter each time. There are a few more wrinkles all around too, but other than that, everyone is pretty much the same. We just sit around visiting waiting for the kudzu to grow and cover us.

There are so many descendents in our family that it is probably just as well that they don’t all come as the hall would not hold us. We have a hard time even keeping track of living descendants at this point.

We used to meet in the park with our children and have games and things to do, but now the focus seems to be on food – lots of it. Once it was homemade chicken and dumplings, green beans, new potatoes, and coconut cream pie. Nowadays it is more likely to be Kentucky Fried Chicken and deli potato salad. Home cooking is going out of style and people to eat out more and cook less. I sure do miss banana pudding – but not enough to make one.

Reunions give us a chance to catch up on all the family gossip – who is divorced, who married, who died, who has a new baby, who is sick, and who is pregnant. We also get to talk about the people that didn’t show up and speculate on the real reason why.

Family genealogy has become a big thing lately. Somehow relatives are easier to deal with when they are dead and can’t embarrass us any more. Their misdeeds are merely colorful anecdotes from the past rather than skeletons in the closet. Our family has its share of eccentrics, just as most families probably do – whether we claim them or not.

Watch your purse, as our cousin is a kleptomaniac. Don’t mention the fact that one ancestor was illegitimate and some are alcoholics. Forget all the divorces, especially the recent ones. Sweep it all under the rug and pretend you don’t know. Years from now when our descendants are doing genealogy and there are enough years between now and then to keep association at a respectable distance, they will think of them as only another amusing tale.

Family reunions are tolerable. As far as I’m concerned, anything can be tolerated once every two years. I went mainly because my mother wanted me to, and my kids went because I wanted them to. Even though we groan about having to associate with family that was given to us rather than chosen, imagine how awful it would be to have no extended family. Be sure to take note of how relatives that are too involved with other activities or too important to bother with kin are usually the first to come forward and claim family members that become rich or famous.

All in all, nobody shot anybody else, nobody punched anyone else in the nose, nobody’s purse was stolen, nobody got food poisoning, and nobody became angry or left in tears. I suppose we could say that as family reunions go ours was always a big success.

Copyright 2002 Sheila Moss
Posted in Family, Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Suggestions for Summer

beach umbrellaWith winter over and summer on its way, people are beginning to plan exactly how they will spend the long, lazy days and enjoy their favorite season. As usual, I have a few suggestions for you:

EXERCISE:
  This is easily accomplished without fuss while mowing grass. Grass, as every one knows, grows one inch per minute in the summer.  That means that if you run as fast as you can while pushing the power mower in front of you, you can finish the yard at least 30 minutes before it is tall enough to mow again.

PICNICS:  Picnics are a wonderful way for the family to spend time together in an unstructured manner.  If you do not have time to prepare a picnic basket, feel free to stop at a fast food place and grab a bag of burgers. Food just tastes better when enjoyed in the fresh air.  The ants, bees, and flies also enjoy eating outside where they can enjoy the food without hazardous obstructions, and they don’t eat very much.

PARKS:  Parks are a favorite way to enjoy the outdoors with a variety of different activities.  There are often hiking trails and playground equipment for the kids.  Be certain to pick up a tube of lineament on the way home to ease the aches from too much walking, Band-Aid’s for the kids knees, and some ointment for mosquito bites.

VACATIONS:  Most people try to plan some time off work during the summer season.  This gives you a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the traffic jams while trying to reach your destination.  Further more, you can spend a fortune to sleep and eat and see numerous interesting sights, such as other tourists doing the same thing. You will have an opportunity to visit destinations far different than your home and to push, shove, and sweat with strangers.

SWIMMING:  This is a favorite activity for summer because it keeps you cool during the heat and provides healthy activity at the same time. Water activities can be great exercise, and you can have fun in the sun while getting a healthy tan.  If you do not have a tan to show off, cover those white legs with a towel and wear a jacket and sun hat and maybe no one will notice. If you do this correctly, only your ankles and the back of your neck will be sunburned.

COOKOUTS:  Different foods are more readily available in the summer months, and a variety of foods can be prepared out of doors. Cooking over a charcoal fire gives food a taste not obtained with other types of cooking.  Be sure to watch the food carefully, and keep your cell phone handy to summon the fire department if the deck catches on fire.  Don’t worry about the charred and dry meat, just slop on the barbecue sauce and eat it anyhow.

CAMPING:  Many families enjoy getting back to basics by spending time living in the great outdoors and enjoying getting back to basics.  Spending the night outside is far more enjoyable, however,  if it is not raining.  In the event of rain, we recommend moving to a motel.  While this is more expensive than camping, it is also much more comfortable than soggy sleeping bags and squishy tennis shoes, which tend to spoil the outdoor experience in a hurry. It also helps immensely with keeping the raccoons out of your food.

SPORTS:  There are many summer sports that can be enjoyed by individuals or as team activities.  If tennis, golf and organized team sports no longer hold your interest, try some of the more extreme sports such as rubber rafting and bungee jumping.  You will have an experience to remember and the hospital bill will be worth every penny.

And there you have it, suggestions for fun ways to spend your summer at home, on the road, or at far away locations.

Have fun…  And be sure to remember to send a postcard so we can see what we missed while setting in front of the TV under the air conditioner complaining about the heat.

Copyright 2005 Sheila Moss
Posted in Humor | 5 Comments

The Sting

waspsI know what you are thinking – a sting is a secret operation of some sort. Nope! This sting was the real McCoy, the kind that comes with an insect on the other end.

It was innocent, really. I simply wanted to hose off the patio with the garden hose, get rid of the dead leaves and stray crabapples that had fallen from the tree and were rolling around looking messy. How was I to know that a nest of wasps had turned my patio light into their own personal condominium?

Summer time, how I love it! Why is it that this seems to be my year for outdoor catastrophe? Maybe I need to check the almanac. Maybe I should just stay indoors for the rest of the season.

“Live and let live,” I always say. I saw them there looking menacing, but I meant them no harm. They didn’t seem angry and I held no animosity toward them.

Well, okay, I did make a mental note to come back later with the aerosol bug spray, but I controlled my evil fantasy and stayed with the task at hand, gently removing the hose from its parking place on the fence. The sun shone, the flowers bloomed, the birds chirped, the wasps buzzed – all seemed right with the world.

Then it happened – the STING! One crazed wasp decided I was the enemy and declared war. YOUCH! This was a “king-size” wasp packing a powerful wallop.

I made a gallant effort to be brave, but I was viciously wounded. And to add insult to injury, this venomous villain attacked and ambushed me from behind. Yes, right on my back side, like a mad Nurse Ratched with a shot of penicillin. It stung my bottom right through clothing and all. I’ve never been so humiliated by a bug in my life!

As long as one is not allergic to stings, there is not a great deal to be done. I didn’t stop breathing, so I presume I’m one of the lucky people who are not allergic to stings. But, the pain – WOW, did it ever smart! Thereafter, the ice pack and a bottle of extra strength Tylenol became my sole source of solitude for a several days.

In recovery, I read up on wasps and found that wasps don’t even give up their lives to sting. With bees, the venom bag is ripped from the abdomen when it stings, causing the insect’s own death. A wasp, on the other hand, assaults, stings, and then goes on its merry way, back to making paper, spreading pollen, or whatever unfathomable reason wasps may have for existing in the world.

And so, I’m suffering along, wearing my red itchy badge of courage in a most embarrassing place.

However, I did get my sinister revenge when eventually I foamed the nest from ten feet away with one of those special insecticide sprays purchased just for this particular pleasure.

Wicked, I know, but one can only be kind to predators for so long. And, in this case, there was not even a remote possibility that I’d turn the other cheek.

Copyright 2001 Sheila Moss
Posted in Creatures, Humor, Plants/Gardening | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Junk Mail Junk

emailI was sitting at my computer the other day minding my own business and surfing the net. In retrospect, I think maybe I had just read one too many junk emails that day, but the first thing you know I found my eyelids feeling a bit heavy.

I slowly drifted away and next thing I was aware of was being in cyberspace and somehow getting entangled in the email filter on my computer, along with a month’s supply of SPAM that had never been emptied.

I tried to maintain a sense of dignity, which was hard to do sitting in a mail bucket.

Now for those of you who might be so unenlightened you’ve never heard of SPAM, let me give you a quick definition. We are not talking about the unidentified mystery meat that comes in a can and goes by the same name. We are talking about unwanted email that comes from unknown sources.

In the snail mail world, they call it “junk mail.” In the cyber world, we call it “SPAM.” I don’t know why. It just is.

At first I was a bit apprehensive, but after looking around I realized it might not be such a bad place. After all, where else can I get a prestigious university degree of my choice, just from my life experience, without course work, or tests? In the world of SPAM, I can be a lawyer, a teacher, or a rocket scientist just by calling their toll free number today.

The SPAM messages were all very concerned about me and my interests, especially when it came to financial matters. They assured me that I could consolidate my debts and apply for a loan in spite of a bad credit history.

I could also apply for a guaranteed credit card at the bank of their choice with low, low interest for the first three days. I could open an online banking account, with a balance of $20 already in it, just for filling out the application.

In the SPAM world I was encouraged to start an e-business and make money on the net working from home. I could be paid for my great ideas. I could market my products and advertise for free with thousands of email addresses guaranteed to be valid and bring results, reaching others just the way they reached me.

While waiting for my low interest loan to go through, I can watch a free movie or visit a casino and become a high roller, all without ever leaving the comfort of my own mailbox. I could also dream about my free trip to an NFL All-Star Game, complete with airfare and hotel accommodations.

Life is good inside a SPAM filter.

Everything in the SPAM world is free, or at least half price. I could get home, auto, health or life insurance at 75% off, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I could lose 10 pounds in a weeks with an e-diet. I could look great, remove fat, increase my income, reduce my debts and sign on the line for a home equity loan.

Why is it that when something seems to be too good to be true, it probably is? We don’t need a Bachelor, Masters, or Ph.D. in the field of our choice or any other to know when email is bunk.

And so with great reluctance I untangled myself from the promises, pressed the delete key and emptied the SPAM filter.

My new net buddies were sent back into cyberspace where they came from, but not for long, I’m afraid. They will merely mutate, change their subject line, and email address, and reappear in my mailbox again one by one. They don’t give up easily.

Meantime, I’ve got to quit spending so much time at the computer before my head hits the keyboard again. Maybe I need a cup of coffee.

Is that my email notification signal blinking?

Copyright 2002 Sheila Moss
Posted in Humor, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

To Mom

momThis Sunday is the day which has been set aside to honor mom, Mother’s Day. Now in reality we should be honoring mom every day, but most of us choose to let them honor us instead, and most moms continue to honor us long after the time when we should be taking care of things ourselves.

When I was growing up, my mother did everything. I never knew how to cook, clean house, or do laundry until after I was married. Boy, was that a shock! You mean all this stuff has not been doing itself for all these years?

When we mature and separate from our family of birth, we tend to find fault and be critical. Mom either does too much and smothers us or not enough and we feel neglected. Mom can’t win.

It’s been said that the older we become, the wiser our parents seem to get. That’s especially true when a baby comes along and we don’t have the first idea about what to do for colic, diarrhea, or a fever. And so we call good old mom, now the source of wisdom and experience.

Of course, nobody ever appreciates us as much as our mothers in spite of our shortcomings. Ever hear the mother of a convicted murderer say on TV what a good boy her son was before he became a murderer?

We try to do the impossible and say thanks for a lifetime of sacrifice with a card, a gift, or a bunch of flowers. So inadequate for what mothers do for their kids. We try to say thank you in one day for voluntary losses so great and so numerous that no gift could ever be thanks enough.

Some believe that we pay back our mother by sacrificing for our own children. But, what about people that don’t have children? They get a free ride? While there may some repayment with a short period of roll reversal as parents grow old, for most of life mom will be the caregiver and we will be the care receiver.

Mom doesn’t want more gadgets to dust, more nightgowns to put in the dresser drawer, or flowers to aggravate her allergies. If only it could be that simple. What a mother wants is for her children to do something to show that she has succeeded in her most important role in life, being a mother.

All mothers have an invisible bag inside where they save up the memories that their children have created. Sometimes they share them with friends who are also mothers, but mostly they simply save these things to ponder and think about in moments of lesser achievement.

Mother cures our ills with chicken soup while telling us that we should have listened to her and taken an umbrella, whether it was raining or not. Mothers always know. We do not understand this phenomena, but they seem to have a sixth sense when it comes to their children. Whatever happens, mother knew that it would happen one of these days. Thank God it wasn’t worse!

What’s the use? We keep saying thanks for things we can’t possible thank mother for. So, how can we really repay mom? Simple. Grow up to be a somewhat worthwhile person and as an added bonus do something to make her proud. That’s really all a mother wants anyhow – except, perhaps, a nap.

Copyright 2003 Sheila Moss
Posted in Family, Holidays, Humor | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Wee Geek

computersMy grandson discovered the computer when he was 3 years old. Life was never the same at my house. He received a preschool computer game as a gift, and we finally got around to opening it. It was from one of those themed sets that also have a series of cartoon videos, all with same topic — dinosaurs. These were not fierce, scary dinosaurs, but cute, friendly ones that talked about love and basic values.

I put the disk in my CD ROM and held him on my lap, figuring he would play with it for a few minutes and then go back to his blocks, toy cars, and battery operated musical toys. I showed him the computer mouse and how to left-click the mouse button. Picking right up on the idea, he was soon pointing and clicking like a pro. He quickly learned to select the different games and how to click to open them. It was somewhat frustrating as he kept playing the one he liked best instead of my favorite — but I tried not to argue about it.

As it turned out, I was the one that soon became tired. I slipped him off of my numb legs, letting him work on his own while I just supervised. He didn’t need much assistance. He looked so small sitting there in that big chair gazing into the computer screen with his little feet dangling. I had created a 3-year-old nerd. All he wanted to do was play with the computer. What could compete with that?

He would drag virtual puzzle pieces and drop them in the right places. He would catch falling leaves with the cursor and match them to the right shape. He would sort bright colored animals into categories: flying, swimming, insects, and four-legged animals, while being reinforced with music and exciting sound effects. All of the time he was playing, he was also learning colors, letters, shapes, logic and thinking skills. But doesn’t it seem as if a kid should be potty trained before learning to use a computer?

My computer mouse grew warm and sticky from his hot little hand and my monitor screen was soon covered with fingerprints as he pointed to particular accomplishments, or tried to assist the cursor arrow with a grubby finger.

“Can grandma use the computer for a while?” I begged.

“But I have to do MY work!” he explained.

So it was a competition to see who got to use the computer and whether I could check my email before the dinosaurs took over.

We tried to limit his computer time and allow for active play. Kids need to run, ride wheeled vehicles, and bounce balls. I thought maybe he would tire of the computer after a while, but there was always the next level, the next challenge, the next game. With computers, there was always more to learn. I had a wee geek in training pants.

It’s a new world now, a different world than the one I grew up in. When a three-year-old kid was learning computer skills already, what would he be doing at eight – or eighteen? Why was this so shocking to me? Kids master the use of language between the ages of two and three, a very complex skill. They are capable of learning even at a very young age and much of a child’s learning takes place prior to ever starting school.

I wanted him to grow up informed and able to meet the challenges of a technological society. But it seems as if it was only last week when he was a mere baby. With each click of the mouse, we both became a bit older and a bit wiser.

Copyright 2002 Sheila Moss
Updated

My grandson turned 18 on his last birthday. He uses a computer at home that he built himself. He will graduate high school soon and was accepted at the University of Southern California, a school that accepts only a small percentage of the applicants. He plans to study computer engineering. He says, “What did you expect, grandma? I’ve been using computers since I was in diapers.” And he has.

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