Your 16th birthday was almost a week ago, and I’m still trying to recuperate from the cheesecake. I was hoping you’d go for the vanilla Wal-Mart cupcakes with the ridiculously sweet icing like last year; but alas, this time around, you didn’t hesitate to tell me exactly what you wanted or to express an opinion that was entirely different from my own. You aren’t a cake kid, and Continue reading “Dear Step-Daughter…”
It’s the middle of the afternoon, and I’m exhausted. I’ve been up since way-too-early, and I’ve worked my ass off today.
Although I’ve never been a nap person, days like this make me envy the teenagers in the house who seem to be able to sleep at all hours of the day and night with no thought as to whether they’re snoozing away the best years of their lives. Continue reading “Exhausted, bleach-flavored instruction”
Mama used to say that if only she would’ve had someone to help her pull her wagon, things would’ve been a lot easier for all of us. She meant another adult, of course, but what she got was a couple of kids. We weren’t very good pullers, my oldest brother and I, but our hearts were in the right place. We tried.
Since I starting “dating” my sweet husband in 2015, I’ve thought a lot about that “pulling the wagon” image of Mama’s. It’s apt, actually. Those little red wagons aren’t at all easy to pull, particularly if the terrain is rough or if you get it too heavily loaded. When we were growing up, there were very few patches of smooth ground. And there were four of us, so the wagon’s burden was never light. Some of us fell out sometimes. We got hurt or lost or both.
When Hubby and I got together, his wagon had been stuck in the mud for so long that he’d given up trying to move it. The kids had taken it over and made a useless mess of it; it was no longer fit to move anything anywhere or to keep anyone out of harm’s way. Indeed, they all had cuts and scrapes from the wagon’s rusty edges, and we worried (and still worry) about infections that never fully go away, that could be life-threatening.
My husband is a hard worker and he brings home a decent paycheck. He is also a wonderful man with a huge heart, and for several years before I arrived on the scene, he was dad, mom, and sole breadwinner for his three children. Unfortunately, it was just him trying to do all those things (aside from occasional help from his visiting mom). Like Mama, he needed serious, permanent help to pull his wagon, and the oldest boy (no matter how good his intentions) wasn’t getting the job done.
When I talk to Hubby about that time, he says there was no opportunity for anything except triage, trying desperately to prioritize on the fly and decide who most needed help. I can’t imagine how horrific it must’ve been for him to see all his babies in trouble and to only be able to offer temporary help to the one who was bleeding out the fastest. I’m sure his persistent worrying (over a situation he had no power to fix) is to blame for most of his current wrinkles and health problems.
I knew my husband for 25 years before we ever got together, and I think every day about how much different both of our lives would’ve been if it hadn’t taken so long, if we both hadn’t taken so much damage beforehand. I came in to our relationship with a feeling of worthlessness that was directly tied to how much money I was making. He came in with the persistent and nagging feeling that he was solely responsible for getting these three little people he’d made into adulthood alive.
I’ve said it before, but I think I was born to be a mother. As soon as I walked through the door, I started trying to make a safe home for these kids that I really didn’t know at all except through occasional pictures and stories my sister (in-law) told. At the beginning, hubby gave me $400 a week to buy groceries and the stuff the kids needed. They had to come to me with their requests instead of to their dad. I cleaned, went grocery shopping, cooked actual food, and enforced a go-home time for the oldest’s friends. (Hubby was working midnights, and five days a week, I had to make sure nobody ended up injured, traumatized or dead.) I bought clothes and school supplies, toiletries and tampons. I discouraged Hamburger Helper and fast food wherever possible because none of them needed to continue to live that way now that I was there. Hubby seemed to drop 50 pounds overnight.
My very presence was enough to ensure that within a few months, the kids had new beds and we lived in a nicer house in a better neighborhood. There was also a new school for the youngest two (the oldest moved away when he hit 18) and car insurance for my husband, who hadn’t been able to round up the extra money to start it while he was busy putting out fires. This fall he’s going back to school to pursue a dream and to work toward getting the hell out of the factory.
The point of all this is, the experience of marrying my sweet husband and becoming step-mom to these awesome (if occasionally irksome) kids has shown me once and for all what it truly means to be and to have a partner, how it feels to help someone pull their wagon and to know that they are there to help you pull yours, and how sometimes you can help without bringing a single dime of your own to the table. I would never have guessed. Seriously. That was not at all the lesson I’d spent the preceding years of my adulthood learning.
Even more than a year later, it still blows me away when my husband (or my mom or my sister) points out all the ways that the lives of these three people have changed and improved in the time I’ve known them. I say “I didn’t do anything. I just showed up.”
My husband says “Baby. I love you. You’re so silly.”
*Inspired by The Daily Post prompt Partner.
First of all, I love you. You need to know that. You need to see it written down and really take it to heart and believe it, because I don’t say it very often and you tend not to hear schmaltz (You are 13, after all.) I also think that you are reluctant to admit that you share my feelings of affection, most likely owing to the very existence of your biological mother. Please know that — contrary to what you probably believe — I understand that you feel pressure to love your mother…both from her and from the universe at large. I also understand that you’re a teenager, and therefore you automatically want to do that which will annoy your father and me. You think loving your mother will accomplish that, but it’s not true. She’s your mother and of course you love her. What you don’t know yet is that some people don’t get the best moms, and they spend their whole lives wishing they could un-love their mother and undo all the damage she did to them. I’m so afraid that’s where you’ll end up. Please believe me when I say that this is my only feeling on the subject. If you could love her without danger to yourself, all I would have to say is “that’s terrific!” (and to be honest, there are times I could use a break from all your teenageryness). But you choose to love her up close, to spend more time with her than you should, and in so doing, to put yourself repeatedly and needlessly in harm’s way. When you come home from there — after several days of bar food, not sleeping at night, and only seeing her drunk if at all — you’re a total shit to us. I’m sure this is because you imagine yourself greatly inconvenienced to be back again in a house where you are actually looked after and parented. Regardless of how misunderstood you might feel at these moments, your father and I understand a lot more than we let on. We try not to pick up the horrible things you say to us, or even all the ways you act out. We make these allowances (for a little while) because we figure this behavior won’t last forever. Also because we love you. Both of us, not just the one you’re cloned from.
Have you got it? Great.
Now that the serious stuff is out of the way, here’s one of the many reasons I’m writing: Your Axe products are slowly killing me. Yes, I breathe better now that I quit smoking, but I also breathe better now that I quit smoking, if you see what I mean. Where I used to only react to about half of the smells in my environment, I am now subject to all of them, at full potency. When you take a shower and a bath a day and use far more than the required amount of product for both, it makes me think you want me dead and you’ve grown tired of waiting for nature to take its course (or the cat to take his revenge). In retaliation for this everyday attempt to end my life, I have started to rather passive/aggressively do a few things I never did before where you are concerned. First, I no longer go looking for the missing socks and underwear that are not in your laundry basket. This means you run out of both items a few days earlier than usual, and you are forced to make that pouty face because you can’t change two or three times a day. I am secretly amused by this to such an extent that I find it extremely difficult not to laugh like Renfield and wallow joyfully in your misfortune like Kitty Boy in catnip. In addition to vowing never again to search for your missing laundry, I have also gleefully stopped making tea. Admittedly, this used to bother you a lot more than it does now. But be on your guard, kid; I’m looking for something new and innovative with which to torture you as we speak.
Second, I know you don’t share my opinion on this, but Jesus, Spaghettios stink. Granted, this is another one of those smells that I notice more because of the non-smoking thing, but they reeked even when my sense of smell was compromised. But the actuality of the stench is not why I’m bringing this up; please, for the love of god PLEASE, stop making Spaghettios at 3AM. They wake me up out of a dead sleep, and I have to fight the dry heaves. The same goes for eggs, although I love those — when you’re sleeping, happily cocooned inside a fluffy cloud of blankets that smell good, anything being cooked is undesirable. Stop it. Eat when we eat. Sleep when we sleep. You are not a vampire or a drunk, you’re not on mood or behavior altering drugs, and there’s no reason for you to be awake and eating at that time of day.
Third, stop distracting me with stupid YouTube videos. More to the point, stop distracting me with endless and pointless chatter about stupid YouTube videos. There’s nothing for me to learn there, and engaging in “conversations” with you about something that took ten seconds to watch and was virtually incomprehensible does not make me feel as though I’m spending quality time with you. Remarkably, I also don’t find the endless videos of commentary about video games at all interesting. In fact, I’m not particularly interested in the video games themselves. Unless you’re talking to me about Final Fantasy or old school Mario Bros., count on getting nothing but a blank look back from me. Now, if you want to talk to me about the books you read in school or even about South Park and American Dad, I’m there. Unfortunately, it seems like you stopped watching quality, inappropriate television shows a couple years ago, and the truth is, I am still kind of reeling from the loss of my favorite kid’s perspective on the subject. Come back. At least sit on the couch with me for the Trump Show (formerly known as the news) and help me yell obscenities at the screen. I miss you.
Fourth: boy, I will cut you if you don’t start lifting the lid and hitting the bowl. Please note that this is a two-part statement. Both pieces are necessary to prevent my screaming my head off when I enter the bathroom after you. Now, I understand (from my brief time living in the house with your older brother) that this is some kind of a natural teenage boy thing, but come on. I knew you two years ago, and at that time, you were perfectly capable of putting your bodily fluids where they belong. If anything, my presence in your life has made you more civilized, so I seriously don’t understand this recent turn of events. You are not living in a barnyard, boy. Get it together. Otherwise, cleaning the bathroom will become a daily chore that moves over to your list. Heh….you think it’s hard to get your allowance now.
Fifth: if you’re trying to irritate me with your love of sub-par rap music (when I can barely stomach the really good stuff), you’ve succeeded. But you should know that if I keep hearing it playing on a loop at a steady and monotonous drone while you’re otherwise engaged with playing a game and chatting online, then I cannot be responsible for my actions. Your phone (from which the music streams) might just up and disappear. My little brother needs an iPhone, and I know for certain that I can trust him to use it to play decent music.
Finally, please PLEASE make an effort to be the boy I know you can be this year. Last year, you lied to us about homework, you didn’t study until you had nearly flunked out, and you hung around with the only thug in our corn-fed, miniscule town. I know you’re smart. I’ve talked to you. I’ve nearly fallen out of my chair a hundred times from laughing at some hilarious and undeniably smart thing you’ve said or done. I damn near have a master’s degree, I’ve read a shit-ton of books, and I have more life experience than I can stomach; you couldn’t possibly crack me up like you do if you weren’t above average. Please, show your teachers that side of yourself this year. You’re handsome and you’re charming, and nothing in the world could stop you if you stopped trying to stop yourself.
I love you, step-son. Get your shit together.
There are times — few and much too far between — when Step-son, Step-daughter, and I are on our own all day and we actually enjoy one another’s company the whole time. In the months before I married their dad (when they’d been without a mom for a startlingly long stretch), those days seemed to occur more often; now, I’m lucky if I get two or three a year. Last night, I had one.
I’ve been spending a ludicrous amount of time on the computer lately, and they’ve both been undeniably teenager-y. Plus, it’s summer, and it’s been kind of a stretch to get us all in one place at the same time. But last night was nice. I made a real supper, and we sat around the table visiting while we ate it. Step-son just returned from a trip upstate working with his grandpa, and he brought back a healthy sum of money for a kid; we were looking forward to making a nighttime trip to the local Wal-Mart so he could spend some of it.
I remember fondly that oh-my-god-we-have-a-shit-ton-of-money giddiness when I was a kid. I think I’ve written about it here before. But it’s almost as much fun, almost as awesome and hopeful and huge — to be party to it as an adult. Of course, our little family isn’t poor, and we’re a two parent household, even if one of us is only here by marriage. But in the past, the kids have seen some shitty days, and I’m sure they’re a lot like every other person on the planet who’s lived through crap: whether you want to or not, you carry some of it around with you for the rest of your life. If you’re lucky, the bad days behind you only serve to make you appreciate the good ones more.
More than anything, I hope one day that’s how they feel about their lives.
So we’re not in dire financial straits at the moment, but they remember pretty clearly what that was like. And despite their ages, I think they also have enough of the little kid mentality remaining that they see a small amount of money and imagine a thousand amazing things that it could buy. Frankly, I’m pretty surprised we didn’t head straight for the candy aisle (or the ice cream), but the kids went in with a mission. We took our time wandering around and dreaming a bit while we shopped, but we left with an entirely reasonable haul.
After we spent a little of our money on shoes, school supplies, bananas, and the 750th fidget spinner of the summer, we got in the car to head for home. I was just beginning to wonder about a possible trip to Dairy Queen, when Step-daughter spotted the bright pink remains of the sunset half-hiding behind Wal-Mart. I hurriedly turned right out of the parking lot instead of left and whipped the car behind the building. We pulled over and all of us leaped out with our cell phones, each determined to get the best picture. (We do that sometimes — it’s all about the bragging rights.)
Step-son managed to get the most contrast-y and hot pink tones with his camera, but I’d like to think I got more variety. Regardless, as we drove home, they were both resetting their phone’s wallpapers, talking about editing tools, and enjoying the company.
No one even mentioned it when we drove past the ten stinky cow and pig farms on our way back to the house. I’d like to believe that it was a night so perfect they didn’t even notice.
If you were sitting in my living room right now and we were having coffee, it would no doubt occur to you to wonder exactly how long I stay in my pajama pants on an average day. You might even think about asking me directly, because right now it’s like one in the afternoon and to most of the world, my comfy clothes might look a lot like clinical depression. You’re probably a really caring and nurturing soul and I appreciate that, but before you jump on the bandwagon, I can assure you that everything’s all right. I’ve had a shower today. Hell, I’ve even shaved my legs and put on moisturizer. I am not depressed. If I was, my mom (whose name would have been either Frank or Earnest if she were a man) would’ve called me out on it like two seconds after it started, my cats would’ve been really pissed about their dirty litter boxes, and my husband and step-kids would’ve wanted to know where the hell their supper was, and that would’ve been that. So again, I’m not depressed. But admittedly, there are a few things contributing to the plethora of pajama pants in my possession as well as the frequency with which I wear them.
- I keep my house cold enough (even in the summer) that most people need an afghan to be comfortable. (This is not at all inconvenient because I actually MAKE AFGHANS, so I have plenty and I like to share.) Since I’m either on the computer or crocheting, I can’t really cover up; the pajama bottoms mean that I don’t have to.
- I have a cat who barely lands on the nice side of satanic. If I don’t wear pants that he likes to sleep on (fuzzy soft pajama bottoms), he’ll scratch my legs until I reconsider my choice. The scratching is, of course, unintentional. (Yeah.)
- I’m going through a bit of a heavy phase at the moment, brought on by the purchase of Oreos, ice cream, and potato chips every week for the past six months. The pajama bottoms are among the few articles of clothing I own that still fit. The way I see it, folks should be grateful I’m wearing pants at all.
Probably none of these explanations is really good enough for you, and I have to admit that even I occasionally find my attire appalling and problematic. Mostly, these moments occur in the presence of other people. For example, there are times when I have felt truly and unfairly judged by the UPS guy. And we’re not even going to talk about the visiting 12-year-old friends of my step-son. Except to say that those kids really need to work on keeping every thought they have from crossing their faces.
Thankfully, I can at least say that in my house, I am not alone in my preference of pajama bottoms. To illustrate: last night, step-daughter and I returned from an afternoon out with my mom. As she walked through the door, she was tweeting about taking off her makeup, putting on pajamas and binge watching Supernatural. By the time she finished typing, I’d already re-donned my fuzzy ‘jammy pants from earlier in the day, grabbed the Chromebook, and started a cup of coffee. By the time my coffee was done, she had on her own fuzzy pants. We could only smile at one another as we grabbed various bags of unhealthy food and seriously contemplated having frozen pizza for supper for the second night in a row. In the end, we couldn’t be bothered to wait for the oven to preheat and we ate whatever we could find that took even less effort than that. (Parenting goals!)
So, if you were sitting here right now drinking coffee with me, it would probably occur to you that I’m not depressed so much as I’m an obnoxious teenager in a 40-some-year-old squishy body. And I couldn’t really argue with you there. Not at all.
Boredom is a rarity for me. There are too many books and blogs to read, too much television to watch, too much Amazon browsing to be done to ever allow it. This afternoon though…I just finished a book (Hillbilly Elegy), and before I can really get into another one, I need some silence and a steady lack of company. Neither are happening. Step-son is having technology issues that I must periodically attend to, step-daughter is trying not to throw her phone in frustration with one of her friends (who seems to think that sending a screenshot of her phone will show evidence of her broken screen). Husband is trying to sleep for a little while before he returns to work tonight for another 12 hours. The cat is high from the catnip spray we bought last night, and the neighbors are mowing their grass in the 95 degree heat of the day. The trains roll through repeatedly, too many to count and way too loud.
So I’m not bored, not really. But the book was good and a little thought-provoking and my mind is certainly wandering.
Today, I’ve been thinking about people I originally encountered on the internet, met face-to-face, and now haven’t seen or heard from in more than a decade. Thinking of them led me to a sort of homesickness for OpenDiary, a community I joined in 1999 and stayed with off and on for the five or six years following, even though I was also self-hosted during most of that time. (OD, of course, closed permanently in 2014, but even looking at the Wayback screenshots of its standard crappy page design makes me more than a little sad for those days long gone.) It’s funny the things that stick with us and that become synonymous with “home” in our heads. Place–I guess even virtual place–becomes something so much more once feeling is attached to it. On OpenDiary, I met Leah, whose last name I no longer remember, whose emails were lost to the ether when my old standby email address was shut down due to inaction. She made me soap, sent me a book on powerful historical women, and hugged me in the Charlotte townhouse of a friend of hers. She was a first-year teacher with a lot of frustration…not at all a new thing for that school district, even then. Then there was Essdee (Shawn Dana), whose last name I never knew, whose face I never saw, but whose comments on the every day minutiae of my life made everything so much easier. And, of course, Dominica, who accompanied me and my then-partner to a Star Trek Voyager convention in Cleveland (where we all patently refused to sit in on Jennifer Lien’s section, even though she hadn’t yet become a psycho with a record), who was so very kind, who loved us both, who was a brilliant web designer, and who herself had more psychiatric problems than any of our circle of friends could have possibly imagined.
Where do these people go? How do we all drift so quickly in and out of one another’s lives, especially if what we have seems to be good for all involved? I like to think that I am a person interested in people, that the people I love and have around me are more important than any thing I might accomplish or any money I might make in my time on this planet. I would rather excel in friendship than in the accumulation of possessions, and I hope that the people who are (or have been) in my life know without a doubt that this is where I stand.
I am Jewish for a reason: I believe that this life is all we get, that our only company for the journey is one another. That we have to take care of our fellow humans even in their weakness and sadness and madness and baddity. (I don’t care if “baddity” isn’t a word, I’ve still been using it for more than a decade and it works.) I was young once, so of course I didn’t always feel this way. As young people, we rarely value the right things, and I’m sure I threw away many people I should’ve kept, and vice versa. It’s just so hard sometimes to remember (even now) that it’s not just me in the world. People don’t do the things they do because of how those things will affect me; rather, like me, they mostly only consider how they themselves will be affected. I have to remind myself on a daily basis that I am not the end all and be all, that the teenager neglecting to pick up her mess cannot be taken as a personal affront anymore than the weather can. It’s a freakin’ struggle, but I’m guessing it’s one with which we’re all fairly familiar.
I’ve digressed a little. My point is that I’m missing all those long-gone folks today, and I’m taking their gone-ness (and OD’s gone-ness) more personally than I should. Conventional wisdom tells me that I can’t go home again, but today….today that’s just making me really, really sad.
Y’all, I can pass right on by the fried chicken and the french fries and the mozzarella cheese sticks and anything else that’s cooked in fat and sold in fast food restaurants. But Jesus on a bicycle with no helmet, I cannot pass by the Sixlets…or actually any chocolate, come to think of it. And the soft serve vanilla ice cream? To echo a certain badly written Twilight character, it’s my own personal brand of heroin.
I’ve done so well in the last few weeks. I managed to get ten pounds down after our return home from the beach. But today has not been good. I went grocery shopping with my step-daughter, and ended up buying all that cheap, nutrient-void junk food that tastes so good you just can’t make yourself stop eating it till it’s gone. Long story short, I ended up going over my calories for the day by 200. Tomorrow is likely to be more of the same, and probably worse; it’s my step-son’s birthday, and there’s a damn Dairy Queen ice cream cake in the freezer. I probably don’t need to tell you that I didn’t go for the small one. Mama always says that “for a dollar more you can go first class,” and in this case, two dollars took the cake from “probably too small to feed four” to “almost big enough to feed ten.” I’m counting on there being leftover cake that everyone else will forget to eat and that I will probably obsess over until it’s gone. If I had any sense of self-preservation, I’d make a vow to not log a single calorie for the next couple days, but knowing how very Type A I can be, I can pretty much guarantee that each one will be meticulously counted regardless of what it does to my self-esteem.
I did go swimming this morning with Mom though. We took the water weights and moved around a little while we visited and talked about the other people in the pool. You’d think we never saw one another, the way we carry on. Maybe this is just the way maturing mother-daughter relationships are, but I feel like we’re probably a little more appreciative of our time together than most. Until the end of 2014, I had been 650 miles away from her for 14 years. I’m hopeful that we’ll have many more years together to continue being inappropriate in public; the women in our family tend to be unnaturally long-lived, even when they chose to spend the majority of their lives doing unhealthy things like smoking and drinking.
Actually, now that I think about it, I’m going to blame today’s transgression of the diet on those girls in my gene pool who lived way too damn long. If it weren’t for them, I might be a little more careful about how I treated my body.
L’chaim, grannies. And shalom, y’all.
I am, admittedly, awfully new to the parenting game, but man I gotta tell you, this shit is hard. It’s a huge learning curve; every new situation, every meal, every everything is first and foremost me trying to figure out where the booby traps are, what the words are that might set off the next chain of exploding land mines. The kids were in this family before me, and there are so many days when I would tell you myself that they run this joint–no ifs, ands, or buts about it.
They, of course, do not feel the same way. Though I am usually decent and amusing company for them, there are more than a few moments when they look around for their father, likely hoping that he’ll notice how his wife is once again trying to rule with an iron fist when they’d be much happier to have her sucking up and asking for their approval. These looks do not go over well with me, and I’m beginning to notice that my ire is compounding over time. The more I don’t respond, the more I want to and the more likely it becomes that I’m eventually going to. Every day, for example, I struggle to resist the urge to plan and legislate every second of their time at home. I am oh-so-tired of cleaning up after them, of saying “please don’t eat pineapple fruit cups on the couch” and then having to clean a sticky mess off the cushions when they get up. I am so done saying “don’t carry soda cans into your bedroom” and then having to buy ant poison for the subsequent and inevitable infestation. If they had chore lists and set punishments for their dumbassery, maybe I’d get a break from the relentless movement and the neverending urge to scream at the top of my lungs in frustration.
But as the parent who is the most present in their lives (my sweet husband works a lot), I am most often consumed with worry rather than anger. I’m 43 years old, and I’ve seen enough of the world to know that there’s some scary, dangerous stuff out there. I’ve also been around the block enough times to know that most of the time, it’s our own bad choices that bring the shitstorm down on our heads. I would very much like to save them from either of those truths whenever possible. I am therefore seriously considering a mandate from my high position as step-mother:
HENCEFORTH AND FORTHWITH, ALL HUMANS UNDER THE AGE OF 39 WHO LIVE IN THIS HOUSE WILL IMMEDIATELY (AND WITHOUT HOPE OF SUCCESSFUL APPEAL) RELINQUISH THE EQUIPMENT REFERRED TO AS CELL PHONES AND THEN TRAVEL BACK IN TIME, POST HASTE, TO THE RENAISSANCE ERA, WHERE THEY WILL START READING ACTUAL LITERATURE AND DRINKING TEA AND NEVER AGAIN UTTER THE WORDS “YOU TUBE” OR PERFORM THE MANEUVER “DAB” EVER, EVER, EVER AGAIN. ALSO, THEY WILL WEAR VICTORIAN CLOTHES AND SPEAK AS THOUGH THEY HAVE SOME SENSE AND A DECENT EDUCATION.
I don’t know…maybe it sounds a little extreme, but it’s beginning to feel like desperate times call for desperate measures. I mean, I was about 18 when I started learning about computers and building my first, scary-looking websites, but the integration with technology nowadays is freakin’ scary. It’s more than just wanting to play on your phone when you’re bored; people (including children) today are so addicted to their phones that cell phone addiction has actually become a thing. It adversely effects concentration, test taking, and even sleep. Consequently, what formerly was an occasional flight of fancy about taking the phones away from the kids and returning to board games, books, and actual eye contact has now become an almost zealous belief in the inherent evil of cell phones and a determination that next time some shit goes down and punishment is imminent, removing the phones (and all other access to social media) might well be the first (joyous) step.
Aside from the scary addiction factor, I’m also worried by the extent to which cell phones are causing our kids to grow up much earlier than they should. And I know that wouldn’t be possible if we were monitoring our kids’ phone usage as closely as our parents once monitored our internet usage, but for the most part, for whatever reason, we aren’t looking. Ironically, I think we were in far less danger than are the kids and teens of this generation. I mean, suicides are happening because of Facebook and Snapchat, y’all. I wouldn’t want to have to tell people that’s what happened to my kid, especially since the mere idea of a death caused by something so intangible is still pretty much unfathomable even to people my age, who were in the first high school level computer classes as teenagers.
How does something so small get so big and important in the lives of children?
I think my sister (in-law) has it right, as usual, and we should be seriously limiting screen time and snatching the phones at random–right out of the hands of the children we love–to see what the hell is actually going on in their lives, what information and everyday horror they’re being presented with in a place that is so very obvious and easily accessible, and yet WE NEVER FREAKIN’ LOOK. I mean, I had to do some serious plotting to read my first smut book at 15, and dammit, I don’t think my step-kids should have it any easier. Also, if they want to know how to build a bomb or start a cult, I really think they should have to perform a little exercise and walk their crazy little asses down to the library, but hey, maybe that’s just me getting a bit drunk on all that new step-mother power.
But I’m serious, y’all…I’m worried. I’m going to try to pay more attention, but I have a feeling that it’s only going to take a feather to push me over the edge of reason on this subject, and I’m taking all the cell phones with me on the trip down.