A Mother's Computer Dilemma
Dear Mr. Johnson:
Ann Landers wouldn't print this. I have nowhere else to turn. I have to get the word out. Warn other parents. I must be rambling on. Let me try and explain. It's about my son, Billy. He's always been a good, normal 10-year-old boy. Well, last spring we sat down after dinner to select a summer camp for Billy. We sorted through the camp brochures. There were the usual camps with swimming, canoeing, games, singing by the campfire -- you know. There were sports camps and specialty camps for weight reduction, music, military camps and camps that specialized in Tibetan knot tying.
I tried to talk him into Camp Winnepoopoo. It's where he went last year. Billy would have none of it. Billy pulled a brochure out of his pocket. It was for a COMPUTER CAMP! We should have put our foot down right there, if only we had known. He left three weeks ago. I DON'T KNOW WHAT HAS HAPPENED. He's changed. I can't explain it. See for yourself.
These are some of my little Billy's letters:
Letter # 1
The kids are dorky nerds. The food stinks. The computers are the only good part. We're learning how to program. Late at night is the best time to program, so they let us stay up.
Letter # 2
Dear Mom, Camp is O.K. Last night we had pizza in the middle of the night. We all get to choose what we want to drink. By the way, can you make Szechwan food? I'm getting used to it now. Gotta go, it's time for the flowchart class.
P.S. This is written on a word processor. Pretty swell, huh? It's spell checked too.
Letter # 3
Dear Mom, Don't worry. We do regular camp stuff. We told ghost stories by the glow of the green computer screens. It was real neat. I don't have much of a tan cause we don't go outside very often. You can't see the computer screen in the sunlight anyway. That wimp camp I went to last year fed us weird food too. Lay off, Mom. I'm OK, really.
Letter # 4
Dear Mom, I'm fine. I'm sleeping enough. I'm eating enough. This is the best camp ever. We scared the counselor with some phony worm code. It was real funny. He got mad and yelled. Can you send more money? I've got to chip in on the phone bill. Did you know that you can talk to people on a computer? Give my regards to Dad.
Letter # 5
Dear Mother, Forget the money for the telephone. We've got a way to not pay. Sorry I haven't written. I've been learning a lot. I'm real good at getting onto any computer in the country. It's really easy! I got into the university's in less than 15 minutes. Frederick did it in five, he's going to show me how. Frederick is my bunk partner. He's really smart. He says that I shouldn't call myself Billy anymore. So, I'm not.
Letter # 6
Dear Mother, How nice of you to come up on Parents Day. Why'd you get so upset? I haven't gained that much weight. The glasses aren't real. Everybody wears them. I was trying to fit in. Believe me, the tape on them is cool. I thought that you'd be proud of my program. After all, I've made some money on it. A publisher is sending a check for $30,000.
Anyway, I've paid for the next six weeks of camp. I won't be home until late August.
Letter # 7
Mother, Stop treating me like a child. True -- physically I am only 10 years old. It was silly of you to try to kidnap me. Do not try again. Remember, I can make your life miserable (i.e. - the bank, credit bureau, and government computers). I am not kidding. OK? I won't write again and this is your only warning. The emotions of this interpersonal communication drain me.
What can I do, Mr. Johnson? See what I mean? It's been two weeks since I've heard from my little boy. I know that it's probably too late to save my little Billy. But, if by printing these letters you can save JUST ONE CHILD from a life of programming, please, I beg of you to do so. Thank you very much.
Sally Gates, Concerned Parent