Remembering Mum’s Big Book. When homework help came from the shelf, not the laptop.

There was a time, not long after Tyrannosaurus Rex munched on his last meal, that we had to function without computers.

That’s right. Nothing to download. No status updates to check. When Likes came via a wolf whistle. And questions were answered in a very different way.

Anyone under 30 just fell from their ergonomic chair. They think I’m conversing in some crazy Russian tongue.

Imagine that. Solving problems without logging in. Instead, we opened up books.

I thought of those BC days (Before Computer) while helping Daughter Two with a homework assignment.

I hadn’t been called on to lend a hand for a while. Her mother is the expert in this field. Highly skilled at making and shaping. And solving the impossible task.

On this occasion, my job was to find information about wind turbines. A subject, it must be said, that is foreign to me. My knowledge of the finer details of renewable energy could be written in capitals on the back of a green stamp.

This meant we would be visiting the Google empire. One click, and I had enough data to open my own wind farm. Those rushing to comment on my suitability to self-fuel such a property can resume their seats.

I passed this information on for Daughter Two to do as she wished. She seemed pleased, although I noted she didn’t ask me to help assemble the project. Wise girl. Too many craft disasters have gone before us.

How would my own mum have helped with such a request, all those years ago? Very differently. Like so many other aspects of life back then.

Those well off in our neighborhood had encyclopedias. Usually purchased from door-to-door salesmen. For my young readers, imagine all the bits of the internet, crammed into 24 leather-bound books.

We couldn’t afford such luxury. So Mum found another way. Our answers were found in her Big Book.

I don’t know where she got it. But we used it most school nights. Anything we needed was buried somewhere in those pages.

It was her guide when something had to be made. A quick look at the picture or diagram, and away she’d go. While Dad snoozed in his favourite chair nearby.

Whenever we were sick, the Big Book would be plonked onto the kitchen table. Mum would search for symptoms, before taking us to the doctor. Self-diagnosis, way back then.

I can’t remember the Big Book letting us down. The only problem, was that there was only ever one answer.

We’ve come so far. Mum would be a Google tragic if she was still with us. Because she loved accessing information. Instead of her beloved book, she would find pages of stuff, from all over the world.

There are times when we Old Farts have to admit that some things are now so much better. Daughter Two would be lucky to use the Big Book as a door stop.

In this instance, our kids are so lucky. As much as I loved that book, the material it contained now seems to come straight out of the Dark Ages.

One thing doesn’t change though. I’m still banned from assembling anything. That could be the next challenge for our Google Overlords. When it comes to teaching bumbling Dads how to make homework projects, we still have a long way to go.

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