This morning I was reading a post on Diane Tolley’s blog, about a little fellow whose aptitude for things mechanical started showing through at an early age.
It got me thinking about my own kids (because of course it did!), and I realized that both of them began their early careers before they were even out of diapers.
The little programmer
When Adrian was about 2 years old, Mitchell acquired a “word processor.” (This is what they used to call home computers, in case you’d forgotten.) A brand new shiny Kaypro4, with not one, but two floppy disk drives! Wowzas.
Now, you must remember that back in the early 1980s, a “portable computer” was a gigantic metal box of a thing, and should have come with a “some assembly required” label. Oh, and it cost a bleeding fortune…because the idea of a personal computer was practically brand new.
We’d only had the Kaypro a few days, when we got up bright and early one morning to find that Adrian was already wide awake. He’d unpacked the Kaypro from its zipped carrying case, laid it out carefully on the floor, unhooked the keyboard from the monitor, and plugged the thing in.
When we found him, he looked up, eyes full of the wonder of the thing, and pointed a chubby little finger at the blinking green cursor.
“Look at the beep-beep!” he exclaimed, delighted at his new find.
Mitchell freaked out. I gathered up our little programmer and hustled him off for breakfast, while Mitch reassembled the precious equipment (which, I should mention, powered our home business for the next couple of years).
Four years later, the Kaypro4 was toast; we’d graduated to the next Big Thing in computing, the PC. Adrian had never lost his interest in computers, though, and Mitchell and I were constantly shooing him away from our work stations, where he’d hover as though drawn by the hum of the machines.
Then one morning, I turned on the computer, only to find it doing…odd things. On the formerly blank opening screen, a tiny digital clock was blinking back at me. There was now a calendar at the bottom of the screen, and somehow the type looked larger and clearer.
When Adrian got home from school, I asked him whether he knew anything about it.
“Oh, yes!” he beamed. “I went into DOS and added some things to make it easier for you to work. Do you like it?”
Um. “How did you figure out where the opening menu was?” I asked (since I had no idea, myself).
“I just poked at it until I figured it out,” he replied.
Well, sure you did.
The small artist
Rachel wasn’t much interested in the inner workings of computers, but like her big brother, she showed herself early.
From the time she was about 2 (this seems to be the magic age?) she would draw or paint on any available surface: paper, walls, her own stomach….
To save our walls (and my sanity) we bought her what we later realized was the Best Gift Ever: a wooden easel from IKEA, with a giant roll of foolscap so Rachel could pull down as much paper as she wanted.
That easel was a godsend. Many mornings I’d wake up and discover that our little artist had been busy during the night—her tempera paints would be open, her brushes wet, and a new creation would be on display on the easel.
When she was about 4, Rachel, Mitchell, and I were walking through a local mall. The place was under renovation, so some walls had been replaced with sheets of plywood. As we walked past, we realized that the artist was covering the ugly plywood with murals: a painting of the Rideau River, some swans, some people riding past on bicycles. Rachel insisted that we stay to watch, so we waited patiently while she watched the artist at work.
She asked him something about his brushes, and he smiled, obviously pleased that this cute little girl was interested.
“You know,” he said, “one of these days when you grow up, you might decide to become an artist!”
Rachel’s smile froze. She drew herself up to her full height. Looked at him sternly, her blue eyes steely with indignation.
“I already am an artist,” she declared.
Well, then. Of course you are.
Of course, you know where both kids ended up.
Adrian’s official title is “Senior Developer/Operations” at Shopify, though I’m damned if I have even the slightest clue what his job entails. When I asked one of his co-workers a couple of years back, the best answer I received was, “He makes everything go.”
Right. Good enough for me.
Rachel is about to enter her third year in her Bachelor of Interior Design (and woe betide you if you call it “interior decorating”), and has started thinking about a master’s in architecture.
The Kaypro II and that old wooden easel are both long gone, but I think of them fondly now as precursors to greater things—the beginning points of a couple of early careers.