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technological grandparents

Aleexpat tells us about her feeling towards her “technologic” mum…


When my mom called me one day saying that she intended to buy a computer, as her friend did, because then she could see me in “SCAIP”, I got a chill down my back. I immediately tried to calm her enthusiasm by saying that she shouldn’t spend so much money, that our phone conversations were more than enough and, in conclusion, that she should give this computer idea some more thought. I just could not think of my mom joining the growing number of technological grandparents!


I must confess that I was terrified at the idea

My mom, who is in her seventies, with a computer in her hands? My mom, who for years has carried a cell phone in her bag but has not yet understood that in order to make it work you must turn it on! My mom, who every time her cell phone rings, thinks it is someone else’s but NEVER hers! My mom, who has bought the latest model of DVD player on the market but ONLY uses it to record episodes of “Beautiful” when she cannot see them (closely following the child-proof instructions written by yours truly)!

The idea that my mom would venture into purchasing a laptop, for which she had already given me all the features and costs, was terrifying. I could not be there to help her and when she was alone, what would she do in a deadlock? Because we all know that deadlocks are an everyday issue with computers. How to explain verbally, by telephone, thousands of miles away, that she has to be calm, that technology takes patience and an “intuitive” approach, something like “press this button here, and that one there”… or worst case scenario, just turn off and restart!?

But then I felt very guilty! 

Why should I make her desist? Why cut her spontaneous emotion to this novelty, to the computer, video calls, e-mails, which for good or evil are part of everyday life for any family?

Aleexpat and her mother

Aleexpat and her mother

In the course of many years of expatriation, our geographical distance has increased over time while the frequency of our trips to visit her has been reduced. But I’ve always considered my duty, as well as my pleasure, to keep tight bonds with my family. My mother, despite being alone and me being her only child, never reproached my decision to live abroad; on the contrary, she always encouraged me to broaden my horizons. Therefore, as a daughter, I always felt deep gratitude towards her, but also a sense of responsibility. I always tried to help her from a distance using every possible means at my disposal – in essence, two of them: phone and mail. Technology today offers us yet another alternative.

I called her back

So, I remember very well that after a couple of hours of confused thoughts, I called her back saying that buying a computer seemed to me a great idea and that I would do everything I could to help her. To tell the truth, the organization was simpler than expected. The guy at the computer shop installed Skype (the famous “SCAIP!”), taught her how to use the rechargeable Internet USB so she wouldn’t have the obligation of a fixed contract, and also, perhaps due to the excitement of the moment, created a Facebook profile for her, including as her friends all the football teams of the nearby church playgrounds!

A positive balance

Now, after one year, the balance of this journey of “virtual” knowledge that my mom embarked on is definitely positive: during her visits to us in Perth, I taught her how to use e-mail, to send and receive messages and to save attached photos. Being an avid reader, my mom discovered that the Internet is a world of information and that it is not necessary to buy a newspaper everyday, if it’s cold and she doesn’t feel like going out. She can read it online.

Seeing through the webcam the toothless grin of one of my children, my straight hair after a crazy day of running around from the pool to the supermarket, hearing herself called “nuna” instead of “nonna” by my three year old offspring, are moments of immense joy for my mother. As for me, seeing her face, sometimes a little blurry, I can realize not only by the tone of her voice, but also by how she says and expresses things, whether that day she is sad or not.

The fact that our parents do not want to feel left out of modernization and get to quickly learn and understand all the technology trends is really great, especially for us expats. And it doesn’t matter if we are just about to have dinner when a call comes in, and we put “grandma” between the salad plate and the bread to chat a bit. The “silver surfers” as they are called in the papers, do not mind the time and once they get started, there is no way to stop them!

Alessandra Giacchi (Aleexpat)
Perth, Australia
April 2012
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