My mother called me yesterday afternoon and told me that she wants to buy a computer and would like me to go with her to the Apple store in Albany. I know that she wanted me to be excited and encourage her, but I can’t. The extent of her technical expertise (and interest) is turning the TV on and off (in all fairness, she can change the channel and control the volume too).
I fell silent and she said, “What?”…I said, “I don’t want to discourage you mom, but I really can’t see you using a computer.” She has had the same voice message on her antiquated answering machine for 10 years (and doesn’t want to learn how to change it), bought a DVD player but doesn’t use it because she is intimidated by it, can’t use a cell phone, and has never shown any interest in learning one electronic thing.
I finally said, “How about Bob going with you?” Bob is my brother (who I don’t think reads my blog or he would kill me) who lives around the Albany area. I can’t imagine that he would have any more faith in her, in this endeavor, but he can’t have less. Finally, I said, “Mom, I think you should have someone go with you who believes in you in this area, and it’s not me. You need a person who sees this as possible. Maybe one of the grandchildren?” Then she got “snippy” and said, “Fine, let’s meet for breakfast when you get a chance. Bye.”
I know that I hurt her feelings, and that was not at all my intention, but this isn’t something that I am being called to get involved with, and I can feel it. For years when we’d try to help her to understand her new “equipment” her reply would always be, “I do not want to learn anything about it. Just show me how to turn it on and off.” When you tell someone for decades that you are not good at something, eventually they believe you.
Don’t get me wrong, I would be delighted if she actually did buy a computer and learned how to use it. I would love to be proved wrong, but I know that if I cannot see a positive outcome for someone, then I’m of little use to them, and its best for me to step aside and let another (who is able to hold that positive vision) step in.
“Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right“. Henry Ford