Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Take a deep breath and count to ten...

I would like to start this post by stating that I know I'm not a teacher. I have no desire whatsoever to teach people anything, I have no wisdom to share and most importantly I do not have the patience of a saint that is needed to do the above things.

I really really did not want to undertake the task of getting my mother set up on the internet...

My Mum was made redundant a few months ago and whilst she is looking for other jobs, she's only looking for part-time positions, she was planning on cutting down her hours once she hit 65 anyway and is only 2 years away from that so she's trying to look on things positively.

Unfortunately she's not had any luck yet and decided to get a laptop and get hooked up to the internet to aid her job searching.

Now yes she is knocking on a bit but she's not totally daft and used the internet at work all the time. And the amount of stupid forwards she used to send me means that I know she has no trouble using e-mail.

However things are a little bit different when you're using the internet at home so I went round the other week to set up her dongle and show her how to connect to the internet. I also set her up a hotmail account because the only e-mail address she's ever had is her work one. I then talked her through everything she had to do to make sure she could log on to Hotmail and get in to her e-mails.

And I did this pretty well. I was patient. Despite the fact that my student was clearly not paying any attention to me.

Lo and behold. Two days later, when she decided to try it for herself, I got a phone call at home.

"It's not working" she says.

10 minutes later and just when I was at breaking point I figured out the problem.

She hadn't connected to the internet.

And it continued over the weekend....

So I went round again yesterday. This time I came prepared. I spent my precious lunch break making her a beautiful document with step by step instructions on it. Number one on the list was Turn laptop on (I wasn't taking any chances). I even had lovely pictures in the document of the actual internet window she would be looking at if she was following my instructions. I even put helpful big, black arrows on certain parts of it showing her where key things are. (e.g. THIS IS THE INBOX. CLICK HERE.)

I had all bases covered. I gave her the instructions and sent her forth telling her that she should do what it says on the paper, in that order, and only call me when something went wrong. I would meanwhile busy myself playing with Fred and Lily.

She kept calling me to the laptop. I kept referring her to the document.

Mum's problem is that she doesn't actually read instructions, much the same as she doesn't listen to instructions.

I made her do it several times and confidence that I had it nailed I came back home.

Cue phone call this afternoon.

"It's not working. I'm doing everything and it's not working"

After 15 minutes on the phone where my temper gradually frayed and Mum continued to insist that she was doing everything on the list as it was written down and it wasn't working. I continued to tell her that if that was the case everything should be working because her internet is not magically different to everyone else's.

I eventually figured out the problem.

There wasn't a problem. Everything was as it should be. "I know that there's a picture in those instructions that shows you the screen you should be looking at Mum" I said. "Are you absolutely sure it's not on there?"


"Oh. Well that bit's over the page."

I just didn't know what to say at that point.

What is most infuriating is not just that she's finding it difficult. She's not of a technological age, that's fine. What is infuriating is that she is more than capable of doing this, she's not stupid. Her problem is that she convinces herself that she can't do it and that it's going to go wrong. You couple this with her inability to follow instructions and you have a recipe for disaster. It's never going to work if she thinks it isn't going to.

It's funny really because she's spent so much time telling me that I should believe in myself and that I'm more than capable of doing things I don't think I can, that she seems to have forgotten to teach herself that valuable lesson. She constantly thinks she's incapable of doing these things and the fact is she isn't. She didn't think she could cope when Dad walked out on us when I was 16. But she did. She didn't think she could cope when she got made redundant the first time. But she did.

Somehow these life lessons haven't completely permeated her brain yet. Hopefully they will do some day.

Until then, I live in fear of the phone ringing and hearing the words "It's not working"...


The Curious Cat said...

It is all about confidence. I get like that even now - when it comes to driving - when it comes to the sewing machine I have in my cupboard (it has been there for 5 years and I'm too scared of the instructions...I don't like instructions). You panic. You want someone to hold your hand and explain it to you - a bit like learning to ride a bike... I think it is also a little bit of laziness too...if you know you have options then you play up... xxx

♥Rosie♥ said...

You must have the patience of a saint - but I have to say I have my moments with the net too ;0)