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Dragging grandma into the high-tech age

Posted: June 22nd, 2018 | Featured, Gen-X in a Millennial World | No Comments

By Genevieve Suzuki | Gen-X in a Millennial World

The clash of generations in my home has finally culminated in an epic battle: Grandma vs. the iPhone 6S.

After I had my daughter, Quinn, my mom moved in with us for various reasons, child care being one of the most invaluable. Without a second thought, she said goodbye to her sweet house in Hawaii — it’s actually just a few miles from the volcanic action on the Big Island so she’s pretty lucky I got pregnant — and moved her life to La Mesa.

Over the past several years, Mom’s attachment to her grandchildren has only become stronger. Quinn, 9, and Deacon, 3, even collude with her against me and their dad. We’ve been outvoted as to where to eat often and informed best-laid plans were no longer feasible.

It’s hard to fight an 84-year-old, a 9-year-old and a 3-year-old. It’s a wonder we don’t have this mix negotiating world affairs.

During school vacations, however, Mom takes a break from us and goes to stay with my sister in Las Vegas. These jaunts, while a welcome respite for her, also cause her to miss the children very much.

On the other side of the family, my mother-in-law, Iris, who still lives in Hawaii, has somewhat mitigated missing the grandchildren by using FaceTime. We call her after birthdays, holidays and special events, and on a weekly basis. The sometimes half-hour calls are a wonderful way for Grandma Suzuki and the children to connect and share their days.

My mom eventually asked me whether her flip-phone could also do that.

“Do what?” I asked, knowing the phone could only make calls, receive texts from telemarketers and take highly pixelated photos.

“Can I also call the kids and see them on my phone?” she asked, peering at the three-inch screen. She was disappointed when I told her, no, she couldn’t use FaceTime on a Motorola flip-phone of questionable age.

I finally decided to drag Mom, 84 years young, kicking and screaming into the virtual age by buying her an iPhone.

As we stood in T-Mobile at Grossmont Center, Mom seemed bewildered by the surrounding technology. Add to that a 3-year-old attempting to access YouTube Kids on display tablets, dancing in the center of the store, and yelling every now and then, “Mommy, I kill you!” (Deacon really means “I carry you,” but that day it sounded like a death threat screamed in front of several other customers) and Mom was in her own personal “Twilight Zone.”

The representative helping us, Jessica, gently introduced Mom to an iPhone 6S. She patiently went through various apps Mom didn’t need. Anything that had to do with shopping, making your own digital music and paying with your phone was trashed.

“I don’t think I can do this,” Mom muttered, eyeing the iPhone as though it were The Big Red Button.

“You can do it,” Jessica reassured her. “It’s easy. You’re going to love it.”

“Are you sure you don’t have the Jitterbug?” Mom asked, half-jokingly. “I feel like I’m going to accidentally call people.”

“The Jitterbug doesn’t have FaceTime,” I reminded her. She sighed in resignation.

And so here we are. After we got home, Mom had me change her ringtone so it sounds like a rotary phone screaming loudly throughout our house. If she was going to suffer, so were we.

Genevieve A. Suzuki

I’m not sure how this is going to work this summer. Half the time my mother still sounds as though she wants to chuck the phone out the window of our car.

But, as with most things in her life that required personal sacrifice, she seems to remember what’s most important: Without that blasted iPhone she couldn’t see her loved ones.

And that, to my mom, is worth any accidental calls to me, my sister, aunts and her lifelong friend.

—Genevieve A. Suzuki is a local attorney who lives and works in La Mesa.

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