My mom and Technology

Only my closest friends (and now the world) know that in 2009 I purchased a condo in south Florida. I have an aunt and an uncle that live there (my uncle owns a company there). At that time, my mom (now a 62 year old retired geography teacher) was staying with my aunt and helping her babysitting my two young cousins, the Florida market had been impacted tremendously because of the economic crisis, and several homes were going under foreclosure. My mom and I saw that as an opportunity for investment.

When I started my doctorate degree in Waco, TX I thought about purchasing a condo, but the opportunities in Florida didn’t even compare. We sold a property we had in Brazil and with that money we were able to pay off my TX car, buy (cash) a car in FL, and buy (cash) a 1100 sq/ft 2 bedroom/ 2 bath condo in FL. We remodeled the whole apartment and it became a refuge for myself (it is way cheaper for me to fly to Florida on my holiday breaks than Brazil) and for my mother (since she is retired and I am her only daughter – and I am living in the US) *Pictures from the apartment after we remodeled it will be coming soon*

The investment was worth it! The apartment is already worth double the amount we paid for it) and my mom gets to spend a lot of time there (I would say about 4 to 5 months at a time then she travels back to Brazil for 2 to 3 months). Her schedule is pretty flexible. However, when she is in Florida and since now my cousins are now going to school my mom has picked up another hobby: Day Trading. It sounds weird that someone without any knowledge of day trading would pick this up this as a hobby, but I can say that my mom has mastered her skills.

When I say taht you may think that my mom has always been predisposed to technology and any computer use, but you are wrong! I should then illustrate my mom’s journey to becoming a day trader and a technology lover.

It all started when I was about 12 years old. My parents’ relationship was already on the rocks and my dad moved out. It was a happy day in my household, but our financial situation was very scarce. My mom would teach morning, afternoon, and night shifts in different schools around town to be able to support ourselves and I did my best to have good grades at my private school until I found out that my dad was not paying the monthly tuition and I was not allowed to return to the private school (that I have been attending since I was 6 years old). I went to a public school for 6 months until I got offered a full scholarship to play volleyball for another private high-school and my mom was finally able to purchase our first computer. I remember our Windows desktop and how happy I was that she got it for me (she worked SO HARD to get it). At that time, my mom didn’t even care about using the computer. She knew that I was interested in it, that it would help ME with school work, and that I could also play games in it (I did own a video game system and I remember that when things were rough between my parents I would go to my room play video games and my mom would soon follow me, close the door, and we would both distract ourselves with sonic the hedgehog or lemmings).

The internet era started and I installed (without my mom’s permission) an AOL installation CD that came through the mail. I had dial-up internet and I started hitting up chat rooms all over the internet (I would go to american chat rooms to practice my English). I had one specific chat room/pen pal and it is funny that he was one of the first people that told me that I could get a scholarship to play volleyball in America (I wasn’t even 15 years old, but we are friends on Facebook now!). My mom didn’t understand why the phone bills were so high all of a sudden, but when I told her why and showed her what the internet was all about (and how my English was improving) she was all for it.

Years passed and high-speed internet was everywhere. It was expensive, but my mom saw how much time I was spending in front of the computer and since she loved my website (yes, I taught myself html and had my own website where I would post funny images that I would get by email) she decided that it was a good investment.

I graduated from high-school and started college (I got a full ride to play volleyball for a University in Brazil and my mom was very proud of me). Two years into it I was recruited to come to the US on an athletic scholarship. My mom was very proud again, but scared that her only daughter was leaving the country on her own and without knowing anyone nor mastering the language fully well. That’s when things started to pick up for my mom.

This was 2003 and I was a big MSN messenger person. We figured that the best way to communicate to each other was through that. I got to the US, and got myself an used desktop computer, a high-speed internet connection, a web-cam, and that’s how my mom and I would talk to each other….everyday. I don’t know if I would have survived living in a different country by myself, and only 18 years old, if it wasn’t for MSN messenger and by talking to my mom daily on the computer. I am very thankful of the affordances that the internet has provided me. But, my mom is thankful too. She would leave the computer on ALL DAY LONG and sometimes our MSN messengers would be connected 24/7. I would get home and there she would be…in my computer. At that time my mom started babysitting one of my little Brazilian cousins and he got so used to being in front of a computer (in my mom’s lap) that when he was not even 1 year old he would crawl to the computer, turn the stabilizer on, the CPU on, the monitor on, and BAM! The computer was on!

When my mom wasn’t online with me, and when she wasn’t talking care of my cousin, my mom started browsing the internet (looking at the news and watching soap opera episodes that she might have missed). She also discovered EMAIL (oh how I hate that!) and to this day I receive about 10 emails with powerpoint attachments from my mom per day (even thought I have warned her not to forward them to me…ugh!).

Fast forward to 2009. My aunt was overwhelmed with my two cousins and work, my mom had an American visa, experience, and her only daughter living in the US. My aunt invited my mom to come to the states and babysit for her. My mom accepted it, of course, since she would be thousands of miles closer to me. Skype existed at that time and we still talked to each other constantly.

We decided to purchase the condo in FL, we remodeled it, and my mom moved in. We installed an internet service with Comcast and my mom decided to invest some of our savings in the Brazilian stock market. Her new occupation was to monitor the Brazilian stock market and take care of our savings in Brazil. One problem though: The Comcast internet service in our Florida condo SUCKS! She noticed that the service was bad and she would tell me to call Comcast and request them to fix it ALL THE TIME. From Texas I called Comcast about thousands of times, they sent in several technicians, but there was NO solution. I noticed that she would call me irritated about that sometimes (especially because when the market starts going down you must make your moves fast – your internet HAS to work otherwise you lose a LOT of money).

In one of my visits to Florida I noticed how much the internet issue was affecting my mom. It was around noon, the internet stopped working and our stock prices were going down. My mom was so desperate that she had one of the biggest fits I have seen in my life. It is so scary to see your parent (especially when they are in their 60s) going ballistic, crying, yelling, and punching the modem, the router, the wall, and cursing all of the Comcast technicians and their family members…SCARY!

I called Comcast several more times, but the problem was NOT fixed. At that point, I got very concerned about my mom’s health (about her high blood pressure – which I directly blame the internet service for). But more importantly, I started blaming myself. If it wasn’t for me, my mom wouldn’t care about computers, internet, or anything like that. If it wasn’t for me, her high blood pressure would be in check and she would be like many 60 year olds that have no clue about what technology is about. My mom is a digital immigrant, because myself – a somewhat digital native – have dragged her into my reality.

Now my mom is addicted to it (she spends most of her time in front of her computer either sending emails, reading the news, day trading, or watching her Brazilian soap operas) and she goes nuts if the internet does not work (by the way, we have tried other services like At&T but they didn’t work…we still have Comcast).

She doesn’t play video games anymore (because we don’t own one in FL), but she loves her spider solitaire. She calls me constantly on skype, and keeps sending me her inspirational powepoints. I love her, but I wonder how she would be if I had never installed that AOL cd in my old desktop computer in Brazil…lol

Update 06.29.11: The internet service in the FL condo HAS BEEN FIXED. We had to replace all of the cable cables INSIDE the walls and now we don’t have any more internet/cable going down issues. THANK GOD. Also, my mom was just recently in Brazil and all of her checkup exams were NORMAL! The high blod pressure indeed was stress (Comcast/Internet) related. I am grateful that she is well and she will be back in the States soon.


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3 Responses to “My mom and Technology”
  1. Sar says:

    Have I told you recently that you’re my favorite?! Holy moly. <3 I love you!

  2. Janete says:

    I am proud of you friend. I am in Florida right now. I would like to see your face again and your mom. I miss you all. LOVES, JANETE


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