Castle in the cloud

As I get to grips with thinking about the future with the weighty responsibility of another actual person depending on me for survival and development, it’s tempting to attempt to recreate my childhood for her.

My childhood was pretty special, as it happens. I grew up on a small island, with close friends living nearby, opposite a beach, with plenty of opportunities for spending time outside exploring castles and inside with various musical instruments. However, I also spent a significant fraction of my time tinkering with the latest and greatest technology. The BBC Micro B, the Acorn Archimedes, the Super Nintendo, and eventually an IBM PC with the ground-breaking Intel 286 chip were all available to me to code on and play with. My friends and I experimented with networking, digital music, and ran a BBS dedicated to the Acorn Archimedes1 from first a 2400 baud, then a 9600 baud modem. All of these things added up to a lifelong love of doodling around with technology, computers, and video games.

So it is tempting to find all of these things and introduce my ward to technology through them. I have a NES, and a Sega Genesis, and I wouldn’t mind a nostalgic trip down the Acorn lane. However, it occurred to me that this misses the point entirely: Aside from the possibility2 that she turns out to not be interested in technology, what was important about my childhood was the access to the latest technology, not any particular technology. It is, of course, true that the BBC Micro and Archimedes were well suited to the experimenter and the hobby programmer, and I don’t think I would have ended up as a career programmer without my time spent filling the screens of the computer in the physics classroom with ‘DOM IS COOL’. The technology that is around today is so far removed from that if I was to start learning to program today on a BBC Micro, and then try to develop a full web application, or a mobile game, I’d be hopelessly behind the curve. By the time I’d caught up, technology would have moved on and I’d have no chance to grow and develop with it.

Instead, then, I consider it my duty to ensure my progeny has access to the latest technology and, should she show any interest towards developing games or applications, will seize that opportunity with both hands and encourage her. If this means I have to keep the latest gadgets around just in case, so be it3. Right now, this means mobile development platforms, the ubiquitous cloud, and the web. I have no idea what it will be in a few years, but whatever it is, my scion will have access to it.

Clearly, it is equally important to expose her to the latest in gaming platforms and video games, just so she experiences the cutting edge. And I’ll have to spend time with those platforms and games too, so that I’m as familiar with them as she will be.

Oh yeah, and I should work on that whole ‘spending time outside’ thing too I suppose. But first, I have a 6502 computer to build.

  1. named Archetype, naturally
  2. Extremely unlikely possibility.
  3. We all, as parents, have sacrifices to make.

Sweet Child O’ Mine

Today is the last day I won’t be a parent. I feel like I should write something about this, about how it feels, but I’m not sure I can even begin to collect and analyse all the busyness in my head. So where to start?

Firstly, I thought I’d be anxious, but I’m not particularly. I mean, I’m generally anxious in the sense that I hope everything goes smoothly and all parties end up healthy, but I’m also prepared enough to know that ‘going smoothly’ is a relative term when it comes to childbirth and everyone’s health is both all that matters, and exactly what everyone involved will be focused on. So I can, to an extent, rationalize away the anxiety.

I also feel like I should be excited, and of course I am a bit, but I don’t really have the time to focus on that excitement, to celebrate it. Instead, there are things that need to get done today, and other people who need my focus and attention, and it’s not a bad thing to not outwardly show excitement. For those involved in the day that are more anxious or focused on keeping everyone healthy, my excitement is not going to be all that helpful. Also, I’m British; excitement tends to show itself as having a hobnob instead of a digestive with my cup of tea.

How does it feel, then, to know that everything will have changed by tomorrow? And make no mistake: Everything will have changed. It feels expected. It feels normal. I’ve had nine months to feel anxious, and to worry, to be excited and dream of all the things I’ll do with my daughter1. Her room is ready, or at least the half a room that has been prepared for her is ready, we have clothes for her no matter what size she ends up being, and washing and folding them has made it not unusual to see them around. If anything, it feel frustrating that she’s not already here. That she hasn’t been here for the last month and instead has chosen to be stubborn and stay inside when she could be out here interacting with us.

I truly cannot wait any longer to meet her.

PS – It’s also Pi Day and the anniversary of Einstein’s birthday, which is irrelevant for the purposes of this post, unless my kid ends up being born today, in which case it’s a most excellent fact.

  1. I may have just gotten something in my eye as I wrote this. Hang on.