In my final year of high school, I took as one of my electives, a typing course. More accurately, it was called “Keyboarding”, under the series of courses called something like “Business Skills”. I remember some of the kids in school mocking this course, saying, “It’s for people who will grow up to be secretaries. You want to be someone’s secretary?” Of course, I didn’t let their derision get to me. History, English, law, biology . . . all done and tucked under my belt. But I wanted a practical course where I would learn a skill that I would use all my life, and I secretly pitied those who looked down upon typing as a “secretarial” skill, and would hunt and peck into adulthood. (Little did I know then that further down the road, all you really needed to send a decent message would be one thumb.)
Fast-forward to when my daughter is 7 years old, and typing out her little stories on the computer. She sees me touch-typing, and is fascinated by the speed at which I can create messages, and keep my eyes off the keyboard and on something else (like the t.v.). I notice her curiosity, and within a few months, I suggest to her that it is now time to start learning to touch-type, small hands notwithstanding.
Together, we position her little fingers on the home row, and she starts to gingerly tap on some keys: F F F F J J J J A A A A ; ; ; ;. She gets excited about it all, and I can see that she’s envisioning her fingers flying over the keyboard quickly as she churns out pages and pages of short stories, song lyrics, and general musings via e-mail. After a while, I decide to find one of the many on-line typing games for kids, to help her practice her newfound skills. With so many choices, I preferred the BBC one. But after trying this and a few others, she tells me decisively, “I don’t like so many of them. They’re kind of babyish. O. [her brother] would like them. But I like to just practice on my own on the keyboard.” Well, now, aren’t we the little grown-up, I think. But secretly, I’m proud of her, for thinking of this as a skill, and not a game.
So currently, the Girl is a decent little typist (certainly not a 60 wpm secretary yet). When she sits down at the keyboard, I see her fingers settle home, as if it’s the most natural position for them. It makes me feel warm inside to see a little version of me, typing happily away. And I’m so glad that there’s no one around to mock her for wanting to learn this useful skill.