When you’re my mom’s daughter, you love books. The message I heard most often growing up was that books held all the wonders of the world. The feel of a book in your hand was all you will ever need for happiness. Oh, and your brother hates reading so buck up and read for two.
Books were portals into other dimensions (as long as the other dimensions had happy endings because Shirley’s world does not believe in paradoxes or “meanings learned from sadness”) and your imagination was the vehicle to get there.
When I was younger, I knew I wouldn’t get a video game console or a TV in my room, but I could get my mom to buy me any book I ever wanted at a Dalton’s in the mall because it was as though she was purchasing a piece of magic. My dad (who also hates reading for fun and chooses only books based on TV shows for his rare forays into the literature world) must have felt that the two of us going to bookstores was risking second mortgages. We always came out with a pile of reading material, giggling like little kids because of all the dopamine our brains were releasing.
I could never give my mom the daughter who loved clothes or shopping, but I gave her the daughter who loved books as much as she did.
However, today… Today my mother decided to buy a Nook.
Impulse Buyer? Not So Much
First, she tried to talk me out of it. She danced around the Nook station, smiling and laughing; I would go to pick it out and she would grab my arms and insist we wander around the store to “think about it.” So we would wander, and she would purchase me the coolest journal ever created and then we would make our way back to the station. Then we needed coffee, and she would grab my arms and whisk me away. Finally, in the middle of the mall on a Saturday, I exclaimed, “Mom! Let’s just buy the damn thing! Why would we wait?”
So we purchased it. And the woman couldn’t stop smiling. “I’m just so excited!” she would say randomly. “I’m having so much fun! Aren’t you having so much fun!?!” Yes, yes I am. She practically sprinted outside at which point my dad called on the cell phone and she said, “Kenn! Kenn, Kelly bought a Nook! You owe her money and tell Tom he owes her money, but we’re going to go home and get it set up! Gotta go! I got a Nook!”
We made our way home, sat down, and began to put our overly-educated minds together to figure out this piece of technology.
First we had to get it out of the box. I began to open it, at which point she sighed. I looked at her and said, “Did you want to open it?” and she nodded like a 4-year-old waiting to unwrap a candy bar.
She began to open it and realized the box is magnetic and flips open. I ask her to hand me the power cord. I proceeded to watch her for almost a full minute flipping the box back and having it magnetically attach and then flipping it to its closed position. Back. Forth. Back. Forth. “That’s neat,” she finally says and realizes I’m watching her. “Oh! Power cord!”
When your mom is happy about the magnetic box, you know that setting up technology is going to go super swell.
Mom & Her Passwords are Something Special
I began to log into her B&N account. “Do you know your password?” I innocently asked.
“No,” she responded while flipping the magnetic box back one more time, eyes smiling.
“Okay, well, what’s your email password so I can have B&N send a reminder?”
She looked at me. “I have no idea.”
“Really?” I asked.
“It just always comes on,” she said. Flip. Magnet. Smile.
“Okay, well, what’s your Yahoo password?” I asked.
“Do I have a Yahoo account?” she asked me, curious.
“We used to play Scrabble on Yahoo,” I replied. “Remember?”
“OH! I’ve always wanted to do that again with you, that was so fun. That was on Yahoo? Is that what that was? I always wondered why we stopped,” she trailed off.
“I guess it’s because I forgot my ID.” Flip. Magnet. Smile.
“I guess,” I agreed, moving on to try to set up a new email account wherein we can attach the Nook’s information and get things loaded before she has to go home. It is snowing and she needs to go, Kelly, she really needs to go because it’s snowing. “Okay, well, do you have a Gmail account?”
“No,” she conveyed. Flip. “Wait! I have an iGoogle account? Is that the same thing? Because I have to have iGoogle for [blahdity blah blah].” Magnet.
“Okay,” I said, moving over to Google. “What’s your user ID?”
She smiled at me. “I have no idea,” and she began to howl with laughter. “I just log in.”
Finally, she remembered. Then we had to set up a new username so she can also have a Gmail account. “I’m going to make your username skirby9420, okay?”
“Yes,” she said. “My first initial, last name, and part of our phone number. Good.”
“Okay,” I said, feeling progress occurring. “And your password is going to be readershirley80473.”
“What?” she asks. “What number is that?” Flip.
“8/04/73?” No recognition whatsoever. “August 4, 1973?” Still nothing. “Your ANNIVERSARY?!?”
She began howling and gasping for enough air to say, “You know I have trouble remembering that – do you think that’s really a good number to use? Will you send me all of my passwords and user IDs?”
“Yes,” I said finally turning on the Nook to, y’know, actually set it up. “I’ll email it all to you in case you forget your first initial, last name, phone number, and anniversary. Maybe the people at the Special Needs Parent House will help you remember.”
Laughter. “We just need to get you set up here.” The screen appeared. Suddenly there was something more interesting than a magnetic box and she actually set it down. I gasped in shock.
Mom Doesn’t Shop Online
One of the particularly wonderful things about my mother is that she always has a look of fear when using new technologies. Like every button on the equipment could potentially trigger the complete collapse of her bank account and/or send federal agents to her house for no apparent reason.
I always try to put her at ease. This is hard to do when asking for her credit card number to store on the Nook. Abject fear.
“Is it secure?” she asked.
“As secure as it can be,” I answered like an idiot.
“And how secure is that?” she inquired.
“As secure as it’s going to be when I tell this story on my blog and write all of your IDs and passwords and credit card numbers there,” I replied.
She looked at me sternly. “Kelly, that’s not funny.”
She then picked back up the box. Part of me feared that she thinks she can read books on the magnetic box. Part of me feared she will be disappointed when she realizes this is not true.
After setting everything up and downloading her first novel, she practiced turning the pages. And turning the Nook off and on. She made sure to ask if it was “safe” to unplug. And wondering “where” they store her credit card information.
She then declared the day a complete joy and success and flittered her way to the car holding her brand new toy in its expensive leather cover. “I’ve had just such a wonderful day!” she exclaimed and got in her car while I left to take the dogs for a walk.
Eight blocks later, she pulled up behind me honking loudly. I swear to you that my first thought was she heard her Nook make a sound in her backseat and was afraid it was going to explode.
“KELLY! You forgot your Cookie Monster hat in my bag!”
So while it was sad to see Mom and paper books break up, I believe she will form a new, more mature relationship with her Nook. I also feel as though all of our mother/daughter shopping excursions will never really change. They will always end with Mom carrying around my stuff, laughing, and books.
They will also end with her secretly eating some of my Girl Scout cookies and then embarrassingly confessing to it later, but that’s a whole other story.