Hands down, the best hiding place in the world was Grandma and Grandpa Beckwith’s hall closet: Long…narrow… seemingly endless.
One of the Great Cousin Myths was that no one ever reached the end of the closet; we all agreed to believe that it went on forever.
You would crawl in earthworm-style, navigating the maze of shoes and handbags and wool coats by feel more than sight.
Between the excited anxiety of hiding and the lack of air movement, you'd get sweaty – but your hair would be full of static from the friction of the carpet. Sweat and static cling at the same time - a distinctly uncomfortable feeling.
When you finally found your knee-hugging spot between the sneezy burlap-covered walls and the scratchy wool coats waiting for someone to find you, time would slow down so the space between every heartbeat felt like an eternity.
Until recently, I got that same anxious, itchy, uncomfortable feeling whenever I thought about trying to learn how to code.
I see the quotes all the time.
“Everybody should learn to program a computer.” - Steve Jobs
“I strongly believe every child has to have the opportunity to learn this critical skill.” - Barack Obama.
I already stress out when I think about all the things in my life that I depend on and use daily, and have absolutely no idea how they work.
Cars…access to clean water…plumbing…electricity in general...the list is endless.
If it's not covered in What Do People Do All Day?, I don't know anything about it.
Not knowing how to be self-sufficient (with all my modern conveniences intact) bothers me.
In the post-apocalyptic Station Eleven scenario running through my brain, things don't work out too well for me, with my limited skill set.
Computer coding felt like another thing on the list: Something I should know how to do, but overwhelmingly impossible to learn.
Finally, my curiosity overcame the discomfort of learning something new.
I started small (growth mindset, right?) with a little html and CSS, and a teeny tiny bit of Python.
It turns out that computer coding isn’t as mysterious and scary as I had imagined.
When you learn a musical instrument, you don’t have to invent a whole new instrument and the notes and the music.
You’ve already learned to use code in many ways...by taking a symbol and using it to make it mean something.
If you can read, play music, put a piece of Ikea furniture together…you’ll be able to code.
And now that I’ve stopped hiding from it, I’m having fun learning something new.
Bonus: At the end of the day, after I’ve spent hours trying to get younger sentient beings in my charge to do my bidding with a varying success rate, it feels really good to give the computer a command.
The computer doesn’t argue with me.
I don’t have to use reverse psychology or turn something into a game to get the computer to listen to me.
I may need to fix my command so the computer can understand me, but the computer doesn’t have a choice.
It’s like The Book With No Pictures for grown-ups.
It must do what I say, and that is disturbingly gratifying.
So, if only to satisfy your power-hungry whims, I highly recommend learning to code!
Check out all the free resources we offer here at the library, both online and in print.
I've highlighted some of them below.
You can’t hide forever!
10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…Ready or not, here I code!
Both Gale Courses and Lynda.com, available through our online learning page, offer courses on how to program.
Ask any Youth Services staff member for help looking for our "how to program" books. You can try Help Your Kids with Computer Coding, My First Coding Book, How to Code, or this narrative-based coding guide.
Or search our catalog online yourself, place holds and stop in the library a few days later to conveniently pick up the books you've chosen!
Check out an issue of the kids' magazine Beanz, chock full of all things coding-related!