Clara and I walked hand in hand into the toy aisle at the store the other day. “See,” I told her, “They moved things around. It’s kind of interesting, right?”
But she was obviously not interested. She just held my hand and barely even glanced at anything as we strolled past. She was thinking about something and it wasn’t until we were near the end of the aisle that she was finally ready to tell me what it was.
“Dad, I’m becoming very frustrated with the internet,” she said and she squeezed my hand as she said it, betraying the level of frustration that she was feeling.
“Oh no.” We stopped and stood in front of a wall of LEGO sets. “What’s wrong with the internet, Clara?”
She waved her free hand in the air like an out-of-control windmill. “Well, there’s just so much stuff on it. Everything. Everything is on the internet. But I can never find what I actually need. It’s just a lot of… stuff.”
“Uh-huh.” I nodded and waited for her to continue as it was quite clear she was not finished.”
For instance, I’ll search for a question on Youtube, and I’ll find twenty different videos that all claim to have the answer, and then I’ll watch a few of them and they will be seventeen minutes of nonsense and by the end, they haven’t even answered my question! And I’m like, Why did you waste my time with that?! Why did you make me watch a seventeen-minute-long video of you doing a bunch of dumb things that wasn’t even what I asked for? Who wanted to see that? No one. No one wanted to see that.”
I waited a few moments, but this seemed to be the end of her rant. “Well, that’s not really the internet that you are upset with then. That’s just people ON the internet.”
“Well, what’s the difference,” she sighed. “Internet. People. I’m frustrated with all of them.”
I thought about this and then squeeze her hand like she had squeezed mine, “Well, I can understand that. You just need to find the right sources of information. Books, resources, classes. I bet you will really enjoy taking college classes someday.”
“What?” I looked down at the little girl and she curled her nose up at me in a sad sort of way.
“Sorry, it’s just, you say all the time that you never actually use anything that they taught you in college.”
“Well… yes… but…” I took off my hat and ran my fingers through my hair as I struggled for a response.”
It just sounds to me like college is a lot like my seventeen-minute-long Youtube videos.”
The two of us looked back at the wall of LEGOs. A not-so-young girl and her no-longer-young father, holding hands at the end of a toy aisle that was far too short. “Wouldn’t it be great,” I said finally, “if we could both go back to being kids again. You and I, no questions to answer, just two friends sitting on a cluttered bedroom floor building something wonderful out of what we found sitting around us.”
She didn’t answer, because we both already knew.