I used to think I was pretty computer savvy.
Our house was the first on the block to have a computer when back in the 1980s, we bought a Commodore VIC-20. There was no hard drive, or any drive at all for that matter. There wasn't even a monitor. We hooked the strange-looking gray box up to a 12-inch black and white television and stored programs, which we typed ourselves in some foreign binary code, onto a cassette tape player. Windows hadn't even been invented yet, so the first thing we did when we turned on the fascinating machine was type our names and then watch it appear by itself over and over whenever we hit the "enter" key.
What on earth would we ever use this thing for, I wondered?
Our computer expertise increased as we upgraded to newer, faster machines with more memory, floppy drives then hard drives and finally access to a worldwide network called the Internet.
I am still amazed.
When my granddaughter came for a visit last summer, she carried a handheld machine she called a DSi. I have no idea how long these little gadgets have been in existence, but I watched with curiosity, while she sat in the back seat of the car, her thumbs moving tirelessly (and without pain, I noticed with envy), over the keyboard.
''It's a game, Grandma," she said. ''Here, I'll show you.''
She zipped through her instructions so quickly that I could barely keep up. Later, when her mother called to ask what she was doing, I said, ''She's playing with her DS something or other.'' My comment, or maybe it was my ignorance, initiated a laugh on the other end of the phone.
When did the mother, or in my case, the grandmother, become the child?
I think it happened the moment that technology went whizzing by so fast it barely caused a blip on my radar.
When I think about it, my granddaughter has never known life without home computers, cable television or with telephones with rotary dials. She will likely never have to push clothes through a ringer washing machine, let alone live in a house without a dishwasher. She will never travel without having instant access to the outside world whether its with her cell phone or her wireless computer.
I think it's great that children her age have the ability to communicate so readily, but sometimes it makes me a little sad about the things she might be missing. For example, she will never sit on the floor around the record player with her girlfriends while they decide which 45-rpm single they want to hear next. She will never have to wait in anticipation, sometimes for half a day, by the radio for her favorite song to be played. Why should she? She has instant access to all her favorites through those ''earbuds'' stuck in her head. She'll never wait to watch her favorite television show because chances are it's already been ''DVR'd.''
Yet how can she miss what she's never had? It's worth it to me, that she miss out on a few of these things, because greedily, I benefit too. I can call her anytime, anywhere and talk to her whenever I want. I can shoot her an e-mail and a few hours later, I already have a reply. I can take a photo of something cute my dog did with my phone and send it to hers for instant viewing.
And after all, if I can't figure out my own technological problems, I can always call her for help.