I was lucky enough to be able to be a “stay-at-home-Mom” for the first 16 years of my daughter’s life. This is not to say I didn’t work during that time – I just didn’t get paid, or at least not much.

Never being one to sit around being bored, I was always working at something – just not for someone. I owned and operated an organic market garden for about 7 years. I taught the Motorcycle Safety Training course for the Canada Safety Council, I cleaned houses (other people’s houses, not my own!), and eventually, I started to volunteer at my daughter’s school – in the computer lab.

Much to my surprise – I found that I loved working with computers. And I was pretty good at it, compared to the other folks at the school back then (we’re talking 1996-97 here). Pretty soon a need was perceived to have a Computer Committee for the school. Since I had been volunteering for upwards of 30 hours a week in the lab, I guess the fact that I was on the first Computer Committee comes as no surprise. By the second year of the Committee, I was the Chair.

One of the things I enjoyed the most about this time in my life was a course I developed and taught after school to some of the Grade 4, 5, and 6 kids.  I called it WebMonsters, and it covered a lot of ground, including online safety and “Netiquette”. But the most fun part was teaching these incredibly bright and computer-savvy kids how to make their own website.

Now, one of the things that I am continually finding, is that the things I learn (and relearn, again and again… some lessons need repeating) in one area of my life are generally applicable in almost every other area of my life. I suppose this is no great revelation to anyone – I myself know it to be true, and have known it for years, and yet it hits me like a newsflash every time (this is where the “some lessons need repeating” part comes in….). Go figure.

Anyway. one day during WebMonsters, while I was trying to explain how to create a link on a page, and the difference between relative and absolute links ( these are 8 to 12-year-olds, yeah?), I noticed two of the boys at the back of the class, talking away and paying no attention. I was more than a little bit ticked off at this lack of respect – so I quietly made my way back to where they were, anxious to explain to them that the soccer game or new skateboard were topics best left for after class.

Imagine my surprise when I heard one of them say to the other – “Well, yes, but if you use that if-then statement there, you close the loop and end the level. You’d be better to use an if-else statement.” OK. These 12-year olds were writing code for a computer game. I wandered off, and left them to it.

The deeper message? Try to find out what’s going on before you act. Easy to say, sometimes hard to do. But usually the wisest course of action.

Oh, yeah – the game? They finished it about a week later, and brought it in for the class to play. It was great!