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High-Tech Daughter Hooks Her Mom on Video Games

`You know who's going to really love this computer game,'' I told my husband, Paul, as I finished installing the new discs. ''Mom.''

He looked doubtful. ''She had a little trouble with the mouse the last time she tried to use the computer.''

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''Motivation,'' I said. ''She will want to play this game so badly she will overcome all her computer fears.''

The game, a takeoff of the ancient Chinese game of mah-jongg, reminded me in some ways of word-search puzzles. My mother is a word-search fanatic.

Staying open to new experiences - like computer games - is part of the equation, too. Mom isn't completely resistant to new technology. She just hasn't been exposed to it much. She retired from a career in retail a decade ago, before computerized cash registers took hold. The most advanced piece of equipment she owns is a video cassette recorder - which she enjoys watching when Paul and I visit and insert a tape for her.

Mom does joyfully wave her automatic garage-door opener at every opportunity and likes to proclaim, ''It's the best thing I ever bought.'' She was ready for another computer lesson, I decided, with a game I was sure would captivate her.

Mom came to Maine from Massachusetts to visit during Christmas week. I gave the game a big buildup, but she seemed only mildly interested. Cold weather and a day of nothing to do convinced her it might be fun.

''What about that game?'' she finally asked.

I sat her at the computer and opened the game on the screen. ''You match the tiles,'' I explained. ''You click them with the mouse and poof, they disappear.''

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She liked the concept. ''Those two are the same,'' she said.

''Right. I like the fact that you can change the tile faces,'' I continued. ''Look, these are all famous art works, and this set is faces from history.''

She looked totally confused, but I marched merrily on, setting up the historic faces. Mom immediately matched two, but rolled the mouse right off the pad. I showed her how to pick it up to give herself more ''takeoff'' room. She jerked it awkwardly the first few times, then seemed to get it under control.

I left her and, in time, forgot about her. It wasn't until I set the table for dinner that I remembered she was in the study on the computer. She was still there, clicking, matching, and sending Gandhi, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Joan of Arc into oblivion.

''I'm almost through,'' she said tensely. ''I won't eat until I'm finished.''

I wasn't going to argue.

I went back to tend to dinner, pleased, yet uneasy. There was no reason a woman in her 70s couldn't learn to use a computer, to even enjoy using a computer. Mom has, after all, gone from icebox to refrigerator in her time, from radio to television, from 78s to CDs. Now she has traveled from fountain pen to mouse.

The next morning, after breakfast, I headed upstairs to get ready for a day out. When I came back down, Mom was hard at work at the game. ''Let me finish first,'' she said warningly. Amused, I retreated behind a newspaper in the next room.

Paul watched as she matched the final tiles. ''Do you like the 'Great Wall' game?'' he asked, flashing me a look. This is a variation of the game I usually play, a variation he had been urging me to try.

Mom, however, was blazing new trails. ''Much better,'' she said, disposing of another two tiles. ''I like it!''

She was done. The reward for winning was a brief video. Amelia Earhart smiled and waved near her plane. She is history to me, but Mom was a teenager when Amelia set off on her adventure, an intrepid explorer in a brave new world. Mom watched with interest, but not amazement. I could tell she was itching for another game.

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