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Published: Wednesday, July 25, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

You never stop needing to keep up

My mom gave me an old piano book recently that had belonged to my grandfather who died when I was 9. He had been a violinist in the San Diego Symphony as well as a middle school band and orchestra teacher. Some of my favorite memories from childhood are of sitting on the carpet and listening to my grandpa play boogie-woogie on the piano with his electronic rhythm machine.

What struck me as I flipped through the old Broadway show tunes were my grandpa's annotations on each page. Mostly he wrote “okay” in very elegant handwriting, but on a few pieces he had “learning” written up in the corner. My grandpa was one of the most gifted musicians I have ever met, but even he had to practice?

Here it is over 25 years later and my grandpa still has something to teach me. First, keep learning new things as you grow older. Second, excellence is a process. Third, it is OK to be “okay.” Finally, if you can excuse the fact that I'm talking about a 1980s synthesizer that cranked out a mean cha-cha beat, I'll add a fourth lesson: Embrace new technology even in your retirement. That is a lot of insight coming from an old piano book.

As a young mom, I take a good deal of inspiration from the older people in our community as well. When the Edmonds School District replacement technology levy passed last February, there might have been some Greatest Generation voters who were unsure what “upgrading wireless systems” or “renewing site license fees” meant, but they made sure the levy passed. Like my grandpa, these voters value learning, excellence and keeping up with the times. They helped protect the educational future of my children, and for this I am sincerely grateful.

Technology changes so quickly that it can be hard for any generation to keep up. My 3-year-old can take pictures with her daddy's iPhone and turn on our Internet-streaming TV. I on the other hand remember my grandfather giving me my first camera with its own detachable flashbulbs. My kids think it is hysterical that when I was little, I had to get up off the sofa and walk over to the television to change the channel. I haven't even tried to tell them about what life was like before a microwave.

My 7-year-old was talking about LEGO Ninjago so much one time that I finally told him, “You sound like a broken record!” His confused response was, “What's that?” Of course, if you don't have a 7-year-old, you might be reading that and thinking, “What's Ninjago?” If so, enjoy your ignorance!

It's truly frightening for me to contemplate what type of school district technology levy I might be called upon to vote for in 2062. Hopefully I will take a page from my grandpa. I'll keep learning new things even as I grow older, I'll be OK with being “okay,” and I will adapt whatever new technology becomes available and make beautiful music with it.

Jennifer Bardsley is an Edmonds mom of two and blogs at http://teachingmybabytoread.blog.com.
Story tags » Family

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