“My fingers are too big!”

My mom just got her first iPhone. AT&T was offering the iPhone 3GS for 99¢. She’s excited about being able to take photos, see people’s names in big type when they call, and the rest of the benefits that have come with cell phones since 2007. Until now she had been using a flip phone that didn’t even sync time with the cell tower.

Now it’s my job to show her what’s possible on her iPhone…if only we could get past the typing.

Me, my sister, and my brother type on our phones effortlessly. We rotate our phones to landscape and type with our thumbs. We must look like freaks of nature to mom.

I walk her through sending an email of a photo she just took. She taps the glass with more of her nail than her finger. She’s trying to hit the delete key, but she’s hitting the return key and going from the subject field and creating paragraphs she didn’t want to create. She’s aiming for the B key, but hitting the spacebar.

“Your fingers are not too big.” I reply. “My fingers are bigger than yours.”

Earlier I told her that I sent her a text message. She gets the phone. She’s got it in one of these ugly plastic shells that make all the buttons 100 times harder to press. I tell her she needs to get rid of this thing. She claims she’s already dropped the phone three times. We’ll work on this later, I think.

She puts on her cheaters and heads to the messages app.

Cheaters? I mean reading glasses. They’re these glasses that people wear when their eyesight isn’t as good as it used to be. You don’t need a prescription. I’ve seen them displayed in pharmacies like sunglasses.

And because they’re essentially magnifying glasses, they distort your vision. In some cases this is an improvement, but it hits me that she’s been wearing her cheaters the whole time. She’s hitting the B key when she’s actually hitting the spacebar, because that’s what it looks like to her when she’s wearing her cheaters.

I watch her type some more. She’s making a ton of mistakes.

“I think it’s your glasses,” I say to her. “Your glasses are distorting your vision and making you think you’re typing things you aren’t. Try taking them off.”

“But if I take them off I can’t see anything.”