Despite my proclamations of being a Luddite, I’m not all that stuck in the last century. I mean, sure, I do still write letters by hand, and remember how to slap on a good old-fashioned stamp, but I also Skype and e-mail on a daily basis. This I do not only with people outside of the house, but within as well. No, it’s not that we avoid speaking to each other in person, which is what one amazed friend thought (“You Skype each other? In the same house? But, you’re one floor away! Don’t you just talk?”). It’s just that there are certain things that are better communicated in writing, especially when links are involved.
In our newly-redesigned kitchen, we installed a computer nook for the kids, bequeathing upon them a 5-year-old desktop computer. They were thrilled, for different reasons. The Boy loves to play pre-school on-line games, and when pressed to “do something educational”, he’ll go on to Starfall and read a few stories to himself. But the Girl is different. Sure, she sits and types out her stories and schoolwork, but she’s also discovered randomly addictive web sites, and of course, e-mail. Now that she has her own e-mail account, she’s reached a whole new level of self-expression that was only previously hinted at.
I get links to funny on-line photos, videos, and stories that intrigue and amaze her. I get funny single lines of conversations that pop up randomly in my Skype window, that sometimes say something important, sometimes just cheer me up for no other reason than that they’re there.
But what I love the most are the well-written e-mail “letters” that belie the age of its writer, and all of a sudden, it’s like I have a new e-mail pen pal. (Wait, can we still call it “pen pal” when there’s no pen involved? E-pal? Cyber-mail pal?) There’s a maturity in the writing style, sentence structure, spelling, and vocabulary, that are beyond the writer’s 8-almost-9 years. Most of all, I’m proud of the fact that she writes letter, and not quick “messages”. By this, I mean that I see her peers’ (and my own) quick, impatient missives that are littered with “u” and “b” and “4”, and I notice that my Girl doesn’t write like that. She takes the time to spell out her “you” and “be” and “for”, and treats the e-mail letter like a good old-fashioned letter—one with proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling. (She had started to write snail mail letters to a pen pal on the other side of the world, but hasn’t heard back yet. I think the traditional pen pal relationship is indeed dead.)
In this day and age (oh dear, I think I’ve just shown how old-fashioned I am again, purely by using this phrase), you’d think that the written form is dead for the teen and tween set. But that isn’t the case here. E-mail and letter-writing have allowed our Girl to fully express herself, and have shown me that here is someone even wittier and wiser than I had previously imagined.