There was only one thing I really wanted for Christmas. I counted on getting it because my kids are always looking for inexpensive ways to make me happy and the thing I wanted would be free. Plus, it was something that would be easy for any of them to do, and they are generally helpful people. That’s why I was absolutely sure that one of them would come through on my request to redesign my blog.
I had never invested any time in setting it up for one major reason: Every single time I tried to change things around, something would go irreparably wrong. Once, I tried to move a photo while the site was live and really got myself in a jam. I imagined someone clicking the link right at that moment and seeing my ineptitude. I’ve never really recovered. Privately, I’d decided it was beyond my capability, and I was afraid to try again. Plus, my kids were getting so good at computer stuff that I figured I was forever off the hook.
The short version here is that there was no redesigned blog under the Christmas tree. And even then I didn’t give up hope. I waited around for a few days expecting someone to say, “Oh, hey mom, let’s work on your blog.”
Because, as I mentioned earlier, I have nice kids. They take out the garbage, lift and carry, do their own laundry, sometimes make dinner and always answer my texts. Just recently, in fact, the computer-major son untangled a necklace he’d bought me a few years ago because I was not able to untangle the tiny knot myself – even with my glasses on. I love this particular necklace, it’s small, simple, light, and has a nice little saying on it: Live & Learn.
He brought it to me, task completed, soon after I gave it to him. I was sitting at my computer, which I considered quite serendipitous, as it could be my chance to get him started on redesigning my blog. I finally had his attention.
I made my best emotional appeal. The one that included notes of desperation and helplessness in my voice along with a hint of foreboding that a crisis was about to ensue. It’s the voice that has always, always worked.
“Can you please help me with my blog?”
He answered, “But I don’t know what you want.”
I was ready. I replied with a rush of my ideas and reached to grab a pen to take notes. I breathed a sigh of relief when he actually sat down, a good sign. The next thing he said was even better, “Hand me your computer.” Relief washed over me.
I gave it to him immediately and gratefully. And then I moved off the chair, where he was just perched on the edge, so he could have more room. A surge of motherly generosity filled me and I offered him all sorts of things to eat while he worked. He was already typing away.
But then he stopped, right as I got up to fetch snacks, halting me in my tracks. He handed me back the laptop.
“Here you go,” he said.
I looked on the screen. It was a tutorial.
A tutorial for me.
“I can’t do this,” I said.
“You can do it just as well as me. I would have to watch the tutorial as well.” He went on to describe how learning code is different than figuring out someone else’s code. Or something like that.
“But it’ll be easier for you,” I argued.
“No it will not,” he shot back.
I think I might have said, “I just don’t believe it. Of course it’ll be easier for you!”
I was frustrated, struggling with the fact that I had someone-a resident expert- right next to me but not able to reap the benefits. He left me sitting there and went back upstairs.
I stared ahead at the arrow in front of me, my hand unconsciously fiddling with my necklace, suddenly recognizing that he had just called me out. He knew I was scared to try on my own. There was no other explanation for why he wouldn’t step in this time. I realized, with a sinking feeling, that there was nothing I could do but go ahead and press “play.” Otherwise, I would be a hypocrite wearing that necklace. Maybe that’s why he’d bought it. He’d seen this day coming.
I had to watch the tutorial three or four times until I was really able to digest the words. By the fifth time, a very tiny and good thing happened: I understood one little direction, it was a sliver of hope. I held onto it and kept going. And going. And going.
When things went wrong, I searched for new tutorials. I didn’t call him for help. I was actually excited and empowered by what I was learning. I realized that this is how so much learning takes place now, online, with these tutorial people.
My son knew that I wasn’t used to this. He knew that I was just used to asking the people around me. He knew that I needed to change how I learned.
Live & Learn.
Two days later, I proudly showed him my new blog. “Thank you,” I said.
“I knew you could do it,” he replied.
And, in that moment, I realized that my parenting had been turned back around.
A version of this post originally appeared on the author’s site.