I feel sheepish about how little I understand some of my children’s computer activities and passions. Currently Ralph and Nels are discussing the best way to learn Java in order to write class files for modifications to Minecraft. Daily the children install mods and texture packs with fluency; they discovered, installed, and self-taught usage of an inventory editor (I’m told this is no big deal, by Ralph) and get into very excited conversations with one another, or other teens / grownups when the opportunity arises, about these features and their own methodologies and – of course – gameplay and strategy. I think of all the goatee-stroking and chortling grownups are wont to do, thinking they’ll top-down “teach” kids some skill, while anyone who’s been around a freechild for long soon is humbled at their dexterity, perseverance, logistical skills, and flexible intelligences – and, often, how quickly they surpass us when it’s something they’re interested in.
My lack of understanding when it comes to computer programming is largely a function of personal disinterest. It’s a position I can afford to take, since there is another person in the house who serves as a mentor and assistant (don’t ask me why the kids are so hopped-up on computers but have shown only passing interests in sewing – my equivalent passion, I suppose, to Ralph’s mad tech skillz; I suspect, however, the kids are learning to sew and will sew well and at least semi-regularly in the future). I know in the end I don’t need to be an enthusiastic fan to still be a supporter and advocate for the kids; it was in fact me who squawked rather loudly and uncharacteristically, knowing a while back laptops were the best next tool for our family. And, of course, our entire life is structured around supporting them in the exploits they choose whilst not wasting their times with ones they have no use for.
But the truth is my ignorance and slow-wittedness serve to imbue me with unease. Several times today Nels asked if I would look at his newest installation. I kept saying “no”, not because I was so busy but because there’s something in the whole business that panics me. It isn’t that I think I won’t be able to understand the tech aspect – the other day my daughter patiently explained the horse breeding schema she was using within the game mod, including genetic values and a complex series of stables (read through this and tell me if it makes sense) and it was like this dim lightbulb flickered and I kind of got it – it’s that I’m worried upon my grasping more I’ll feel even worse for not previously knowing more about what they love, and why. So I sit here on the fringe dithering about it, I guess.
Gee, when I write it out I sound like a tremendous assy coward.[ * cough, cough * ]
Tonight my mom literally rescued me from an intense case of ennui by taking the kids and I out to a burger joint (where I had my all-time tired-ass choice, a veggie burger and fries). It was pretty funny (to me) that we ordered all this food, and they didn’t have what my mom wanted (a corndog), so she said, “That’s OK!” and sat with the kids and snuggled and loved up on them, and after the lady rang me up I said, politely and all classy-like, “Are you paying?” and my mom said, “Oh!” and grappled at her wallet, and I laughed because I got one over on her and I always feel appreciative when she helps support us but it’s also just kind of funny, like she’s getting screwed, which is kind of how I feel about this whole having-kids business, although I love them dearly of course, and it just is what it is, including Grandma’s generous support. The bill was a little over twenty dollars and my mom waved at me to give a few dollars tip (which, judging by the near-empty jar, is not something most customers do). Speaking of the tip bit, she’s always like that. Really an incredibly kind-hearted person.
Her car wouldn’t start so we walked home in the light rain. Nels was dismayed about this and wailed loudly for about a block, then soon he and Phoenix were running full-tilt down the wet and scary sidewalks in torrents of musical laughter while my mom and I hoofed it behind them and I texted Ralph to help her out with her new and temporary car-ass scenario.
After we got to my house my mom headed home and the kids and I settled in; while I await the opportunity to purchase carbon chacopy paper I am sewing a decidedly-custom coat for Phoenie. Ralph arrived home late after his class and brought in Jasmine – they have a drag act they’re performing on Friday, my birthday (not for my birthday, just a coincidence). As they got started on the choreography I made coffee and watched for about two minutes before intervening. Look, Jasmine had one hundred percent talent but Ralph’s dancing concepts and skills in moving less like a huge energetic man were just not cutting it. I’d been thinking about how often I don’t claim my talents and you know what? I can dance OK. What followed was an intensely funny, as in peeing-our-pants-laughing, two and a half hour series where I am not lying when I say I turned into a sweaty and intense dance monster and at practice’s end frenetically smoked on the porch while seething the show acts were not open to the general public and even considering some kind of sabotage. Later in the evening, after Jasmine left, Ralph would be washing dishes or something and I’d say, “Look, let’s try it again, don’t move the rest of your body, for a shimmy just punch one shoulder forward then relax, let the other one follow.” He eventually told me I’d worn his body and mind out and that he wasn’t sure if he had it in him anymore to do even one more move.
OK – it’s almost 3:00 AM as I type this and I suppose I should go take a look at what that Nels has been making a fuss about.
Its as big as a whale, tee hee.
And it really, really is. 😉
It’s funny you mentioned the “top-down ‘teach'” thing because I ran into that with Kylie the other day. I’m still a product of my education and continuously find myself trying to teach her things. Well, she’s always asking me to find stuff for her on the Internet (images, videos, etc.) and I was thinking the other day that I should just teach her how to use Google. Later that same day, she came to me asking if I would help her install a game. She was on some Sonic the Hedgehog website and it required admin rights to install it (yes she’s using a resticted account…I learned this when I got tired of rebuilding my older daughter’s PC every 3 months). Anyway, I had to log her out and log in as admin, then I realized that I didn’t know how to get to that website and asked her if she remembered how she found it. She said, “Yep! I went to Google and typed in Sonic,” which I did, “then clicked on that one.” She pointed to the link and there it was.
Yeah…it’s clear that I need to “teach” her how to use Google.
It is so rare, these days, for me to think of needing to teach on my schedule or according to my priorities – not for so-called academics or practical life skills anyway. Confession time, I still find myself nervous about their manners & occasionally wanting them to act like well-behaved grownup-drones. Ugh. Not sure I’ll ever shed my many pieces of emotional and psychological baggage.
Was just reading a post from a year ago and kind of amazed at how differently Ralph and I do things now. Concomitant to this, about 400% less drama in our house than that episode. I’m glad I wrote it out but I feel embarrassed for who I was and how I handled things then.
That post must have been prior to the time I started reading your journal because there is no way I would have forgotten it. It gave me a great laugh. Thanks for that. I’m not sure why you are embarrassed. It sounds like you handled it well, even if the results were less than ideal. 🙂
I’ve been pondering the “bad words” thing a lot lately. Personally, I never really understood why kids aren’t supposed to swear. I’ll admit that I was a hardass against it with my first daughter, but that was because I still had the whole I’m-teh-parent-and-you-will-respect-my-authoritah routine going on. These days I find myself leaning toward explaining to Kylie that bad words are just words…strong words that most people consider to be offensive, especially when used by kids. It will take some explaining, but I think she’s less likely to use them if she actually understands why people frown on it.
If I drop my netbook and it smashes into pieces, I’m gonna swear (out of habit) because I’m upset. Shouldn’t kids be able to express themselves in the same way? Some might argue that they will just use other words if you forbid the bad ones, but it has been my experience that kids simply create their own words that are just different enough to keep them from getting into trouble (frigging, fracking, shizzle, etc.) All this does is make them sound silly in my opinion. In fact, if Kylie did swear and it seemed justified (emotionally), I wouldn’t even say anything. For now, I usually just say, “Honey, you shouldn’t say that because it’s not nice.”
Of course, if she directed it toward me, there would be a good chance that I might slip into the old me and “tell her how it is”. But I’m getting better.
Glad I could make you laugh. Man… that was intense.
First, I’m impressed with people with civil language. Of course, the mastery of not using “bad” words in the public sphere says nothing about how much hate or vileness is being said; just like those who use “bad” words might have some incredibly valuable things to offer.
Currently, my kids are BOTH into swearing while playing video games (this is a surprise in the case of Phoenix. Not Nels tho’, hee). Every once in while I ask them to stop as it can grate on my nerves like other stuff they do. I’ve seen bad language phases come and go. I’ve asked the kids if they’re worried they might get into the habit and then offend someone they don’t want to offend. They’ve told me this is a concern. They’re thinking about it. For instance today I haven’t heard a single “bad” word but yesterday they were busting out VERY colorful swearing while playing Minecraft.
One thing I don’t do – tell little kids they *can’t* swear BECAUSE they’re little kids. I think this runs a lot of risks. They may just wait until they’re grownup (or a teen or whatever), or until their friends do it, or until they think they can “get away” with it, or until they’re out of parent earshot, or until they want to defy parents, or whatever. I’m not saying it’s a bad rule, I’m just saying I don’t think it accomplishes what adults fool themselves into thinking it does.
There’s a lot of words and concepts that are offensive to others and I talk about this with my kids often. Yesterday we talked about the concepts behind the words “stupid” and “idiot”. Which by the way, are words said OFTEN by parents, kids, TV and movies that receive G-ratings and are deemed “OK” by polite society. In fact that was the tricky part. They knew that certain words that are beeped out in a YouTube clip, or not spoken in “polite society” or whatever, were potentially offensive. Explaining to them what’s behind “stupid”, “idiot”, “lame”, “crazy”, and “retarded” – which they hear often by friends and family and in film – is trickier, no?
Your mom sounds great…I am warmed by good grandparents. My mom is the same way…such a blessing.
The other day Linus came up to me and said “Mom, is Fuck a bad word?”
So… what did you say? 🙂
I said “Yes.” And I asked him where he heard it. He said “I made it up in my head and I thought it sounded like a bad word so I asked the neighbors and they said it was.” Riiiiight. I just told him simply it wasn’t the nicest word and asked him not to say it again. But whenever Hugh and I tell the story to eachother we imitate the parents in A Christmas Story. “What? Whaaaaaaaaaat?”
That story gave me such a laugh. I love it.
Anecdotally, how awesome would one feel if they made up the f-word? Dang. I mean I’ve made up a few cusswords but I can’t be sure if I was the FIRST, and I probably wasn’t.
I always knew he was a genius.
I thought I invented oral sex as a child.
Clarification: The IDEA Of it. I didn’t DO IT.
I am so very glad that I wasn’t taking a drink of Dr. Pepper when I was reading your post. My keyboard would have been ruined. 😉
Yes. The “acceptable” words are more difficult to explain. Words like “lame” and “crazy” are tough to let go of. At least you’ve increased my awareness about the words we use.
“I am so very glad that I wasnâ€™t taking a drink of Dr. Pepper when I was reading your post. My keyboard would have been ruined.”
Indeed. Actually somehow I snorted pop out my nose and I wasn’t even drinking any. Ha!