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A Tech Mentor for My Little Techie

February 26, 2019

Photo provided by Wix

 

One of the stories that continues to jump out to me even months after recording it was about how badly Choose the Nickel guest Kevin Harrman wanted to be an astronaut. Kevin's height eventually got in the way. Growing past that 6'1" marker—the maximum height of the day—at the age of 14 broke his heart, and he grew waaaaaay past it. Still, Kevin took away a gem from the experience that inspired me. The whole time Kevin was growing up, his parents supported his dream in any way they could, despite not having the budget to send him to places like space camp.

 

I've been thinking and rethinking about Kevin's parent's example in the context of my own son. He's got dreams, and I want to help make them happen. They may change over time for whatever reason, but I'm going to show him that I am happy to accommodate in whatever way possible.

 

His current dream is to program and to be able to build stuff. These aren't vain dreams. He practices coding at every opportunity and checks out grown-up coding books at the library. He's constantly writing out code since we don't give him much time on the computer.

 

I thought to myself that what my son really needs are mentors—people with whom he can talk who've done what it is he so desperately wants to do. One of my friends does robotics, so I reached out to him and asked him whether he'd be willing to talk over FaceTime for 15 minutes. He agreed to talk and we set up a time.

 

Once the two of them started conversing, I—knowing nothing of coding or robot construction—was left in the dust. They said stuff like C++, C#, and Arduino, and I was left to marvel at how fluent my eight-year-old had become in tech-speak. Just being there was enough, despite my having little understanding of the topic. And I loved the advice that my friend gave my son about things he could do to prepare himself for the real deal. I can't thank my friend enough for taking time out of his own busy schedule to give my son a better sense of what will be required of him.

 

In any case, mentoring is a powerful practice, and I'm going to continue searching for the best of example to lead my children towards enjoyment of hard work and achieving their dreams.

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