So my poor new freshman son is working like a fiend (26 hours to pay for food and rent and the more important Road Runner connection for his computer) and suddenly has his Very First Essay due.
Now Jon teaches at UC and knows what they want in these essays. Noah doesn't want help... until like the eleventh hour. At that point, Jon can't give it- he's teaching and sleeping! So the task falls to me. After his late shift at work, he comes to our house and we sit together until the wee hours piecing together the opening paragraph from his draft. Bleary eyed, I send him to bed in our house where he sleeps the full seven hours. We rise early and do a bit more work and he heads out the door to make his first class.
After class, he calls me from the library. We work some more. Alas, he must leave for work again (another eight hour shift into the night). That night he calls me at midnight. We chat on the phone while he emails the drafts. I read and make comments on the phone while he types them in. He adds material and reads it to me. We both have copies of the book that he's writing about open in front of us. Exhausted but happy with where it's going, we collapse into our respective beds.
Morning dawns and the phone rings. Literally dawns. I roust myself out of bed and read his draft emailed to me. Looking good, but not finished.
So now he's got to finish the paper and get dressed and hoof it to class while grabbing food on the way. Panic sets in. He has to get to the library to print it too. Disaster seems inevitable. And then....
That's when I remember we are in the 21st century! No more electric typewriters! No more phones glued to a wall (how inconvenient). Time for mobile essay writing! I can see the TV ads now. So I say:
Noah, put on your clothes and start walking. You dictate, I type and then I'll send the finished draft to your email.
So he walks out the door, cars and deisel buses whizzing by. First he can't hear me, then I can't hear him, but all the while the final paragraphs of the paper are pouring out of him as he waits at the "Don't walk" sign, as he thrusts his freezing hands into his deep pockets, as he waves to girls who know him (they all love him). He gets to Starbucks as I'm typing the last line.
We laugh. Can we really have just written an essay over the phone on the way to class? I hit the send button and the now completed essay zings to his yahoo account in milliseconds. Noah gets his java and heads to the library where all he has to do is hit the print button.
Makes it to class with two seconds to spare.
Wow! Do I love cell phones and the Internet?
Now some people might think this is an absurd amount of help to give a college kid. But not me. This is a kid who is working 26 hours a week to pay for his life while going to school fulltime... someone who didn't go to school for the last two and a half years. And he's doing it... he's hanging in there, wants to succeed, wants to make it work, is making it work.
I just felt glad that I could help at all. It's a pleasure to watch his mind grow and unfold. A continuation of all those years together. Awesome.
Thank you God, aka Internet.