I don't have a computer, so right off you know I don't have a clue what I'm talking about, but by watching the advertising wars, I figure parents will eventually stay in touch with their kids by phone, e-mail or airlines.

Noting the special fares rigged so you can fly only on the 29th of February (every fourth year) between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. to destinations not blacked out (Hammond, Ind., and Yuma, Ariz., fanbelt capital of the world), I eliminated bonding by fly-ins.We didn't see one of our kids for six months, and then a piece of good fortune happened. His washing machine broke down, and we saw him every week. When I told him we enjoyed hearing his voice, he bought us a telephone-answering machine for Christmas.

Our relationship with all three kids has been kept alive by 30-second messages. It works pretty well. At the sound of the beep on our machine, we hear a voice say, "I'm alive." I call back and leave a message on his machine: "Send a current picture. Your face is begin-ning to fade."

We were having dinner with parents of grown children who live out of state, and they were beside themselves over e-mail. "The kids write every day," the dad said proudly. "We get volumes from them."

I'm warning parents everywhere. This is just a sneaky way to get America in line . . . or online . . . or whatever.

I have a fax machine, a copier and an electric can opener. Don't push. To many adults who don't use computers in their work, they are toys. It used to be men lusted after cars with the newest accessories and goodies under the hood. Now it's computers with all that software. They upgrade their old ones faster than the new technology can come out.

According to people who study these things, women want to see a purpose to a machine. For example, we would never invest in a sweeper that just stored old dust so we would look at it whenever we wanted to.

OK, so I'm out of step, but bad things can happen to good technology. I read the other day that America Online has e-mail backed up like bad plumbing. A year ago it handled 70,000 pieces of mail a day. Now it's up to 1.5 million.

If I want that kind of service, I can mail my letters.

I'm rather used to answering machines. I called one son the other night, and he answered the phone on the first ring. I was struck silent. "Who is this?"

"It's your son," he said. "Listen, Mom, I'm on my way out. Can you tell me what you want in 15 seconds?"

I said, "Give me the recording. At the sound of the beep I get 30 seconds. Get off the phone."