Lately, I’ve been teaching my mother e-mail.
Yes, you heard me right. It’s 2014, and my insightful, 68-year-old mom is just learning the basic building block of Internet communication.
Sometimes I can’t believe all the terms she doesn’t know: "Go to your nav bar." "Force-quit out of there." Those phrases are like Japanese to her.
What startles me is how frustrated I can get with her, when all she’s trying to do is learn. I start to feel like one of those impatient parents I overhear in the grocery aisle: "What’s wrong with you?" "Why can’t you do this simple thing?"
I would never talk this way to someone else’s mom. In fact, the other day, a friend told me the story of her own mother, who could not copy and paste a document, and all I could think was: How cute!
Why did I have all the patience in the world for this stranger, but such a short fuse with my own mother? That’s how families are sometimes. We save our worst selves for the people who love us the most.
As my parents get older, and rely on me more, I don’t want to cave in to my childish pouts. And on this score, I have a good role model. When I was a little girl, who tested boundaries and couldn’t master the world quickly enough, my mother found reserves of patience inside herself. She helped me learn through example and repetition.
So, I know how to be a better teacher. My mother taught me that.