Katie greeted me breathlessly when she got off the bus, “Mom, can you come to school and talk to my class?”
“Talk to your class? About what?” I wanted to know.
“About you,” she told me. “You can come tell my class who you are and what you do! Please?”
I looked at her in puzzlement. Who I am and what I do? I was astounded by the request. I’m just a geeky single mom who happens to work on computers, what else was there to talk about?
“Mom,” she sighed, “you can tell them about fixing computers, how you go to people’s houses and fix their stuff and teach them and also how you fix people’s Internet from the laptop at home. Pleeeease?” my daughter begged.
I considered this. I’ve never been one for public speaking, so the thought of facing a group of kids was more than a little daunting, especially without having any idea of what to say. So I took the parent’s way out, and promised her that I would think about it.
For the rest of the week Katie chattered excitedly about when I would be able to come to her class. “What time do you get off work? Do you think you can get off early one day so that we can eat lunch together? I’ll tell my teacher you can come on Tuesday, ok?”
Tuesday. I nodded my head in capitulation, taking a deep sigh. “Are you sure you want me to come to your class and talk about computers? What if I embarrass you?”
“You won’t embarrass me, Mom!” my daughter assured me.
I wasn’t so convinced.
When Tuesday rolled around, I gathered some spare parts, my “bag of tricks” toolkit and clocked out of work early in anticipation. Looking like a hobo with a bright blue bag, I slowly walked towards the office and introduced myself, expecting to be rebuffed. Surely they won’t want a crazy ole’ Computer Lady bothering one of their classes, I thought.
I was wrong. Her teacher was expecting me, and apparently had been looking forward to my arrival.
Katie beamed from her seat as that sea of faces turned toward me expectantly.
Oh, God, what am I going to say? I had absolutely nothing planned other than the parts within my bag.
“Hello, everybody,” I began nervously. “My name is Annie, and I’m a computer geek.” Giggles erupted from the room. “What that means is that I happen to be a bit better with computers than I am with people, so I need you to help me along, ok?”
Nods from students and teachers alike reassured me.
So it began. We discussed computers, parts, tools, how to fix different things, what can cause computers to do strange things, what exactly I did for a living, and how I got started with computers.
Children would raise their hands with questions so fast that for a time I didn’t think I could keep up, and I could watch them carefully examining the spare parts I had sent throughout the room.
They looked at the thick computer book I brought to demonstrate how much I have to study to keep up with the machines, and I could hear them whispering about how much work it must be to read something that big.
Eventually it was time for lunch, and the teacher rescued me from the questions that seemed never-ending. Katie came to the front and presented me with a thank you gift for coming to their class, a school cup filled with candy crackers and other goodies! Her teachers took photographs, asked questions, and thanked me several times for coming in, informing me that they knew now where Katie got her intelligence – apparently she resembles me in behavior and speech to a degree!
While we were all talking, Katie helped some of the students gather my supplies and pack them away in my magic bag, and then we all lined up and went to lunch.
Lunch was brown-bagged, a sandwich with a tortilla instead of bread, some carrots, juice and cookies. Katie and I sat beside each other chatting with the other kids at the table. I learned about Game Boys, squirrel games, cats that scratch, dogs that bite, receiving an inventory of bumps and scrapes from the various kids while one child determinedly attempted to pool his leftovers with the little boy who sat beside him.
After that we stood in line for a while for all of the children to use the restroom as needed, then headed back to the classroom for the kids to gather supplies needed for recess. It was then that I chose to say good-bye.
Katie hugged me close once again, thanked me once more for coming with a large smile on her face, and all of the students and teachers took another chance to call out their good-byes as I walked down the hall.
I made the day of a child this way, without having a single clue what I was doing, and had a wonderful time in the process. If you ever get the opportunity to share your life with a child take it. The experience is one you will never forget.