Virtual Communication

6 Aug

A real conversation earlier this week with my younger beast.

Baby Beast:  “Oh Mom, by the way, I’m almost out of minutes on my phone.”

Me:  “Okay, remind me later this week if I don’t look into it tomorrow.”

Baby Beast:  “But, I need to figure out with Andrew and Jack what time to meet tomorrow.”

Me:  “What does that have to do with your phone? You’re going to see them tonight.”

Baby Beast:  “I was going to text them and see what time they could meet, but I’m almost out of minutes.”

Me:  “Can’t you just ask them in a few minutes when you see them at practice?”

Baby Beast:  “I’ll try to – it’s just easier to text them.”

I’ve seen it grow and fester more and more as my beasts have entered adolescence, and specifically as they’ve expanded their existence into the electronic realm.  The need for face-to-face communication is no longer a need for today’s generation — it’s actually seen as a nuisance.

When my eldest was putting off his driver’s ed classes, I was perplexed at how a teenage boy wouldn’t rush to get his license.  Then I realized, he communicates with his friends easily enough without having to leave home.  Virtual communication is their every day.  What’s the rush to watch a bunch of boring videos about how to drive, when he can FaceTime, tweet, text, converse on Reddit or talk to friends real-time while playing a Steam video game with them?

No reason to change out of your PJs or abandon a refrigerator full of free food just to get out of the house when you friends are with you virtually all the time.  Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, Ask.fm and who knows what else is new that I haven’t yet heard of.  With all these tools at their disposal, they know what their friends are up to virtually all the time!

I find myself asking my beasts every so often to make a point to be present when they’re at home.   It’s simply a request to engage verbally with each other, acknowledge the other people who are present when they walk through a room, and make sure to come up for air (a.k.a. get your face out of the screen.)

Signature

Signature 2Perhaps this is one reason why our school district has Speech as a required course for graduation.  Now, if they could maybe do just a little more to reinforce the need to know cursive.  I know a lot of signatures have become electronic, but for now these still require the real thing: endorsing checks, signing contracts, applications, driver’s license.   I mean seriously, is this how their signatures will look forever?

Parenting Tip:  Give kids every opportunity to practice real-life communication: order their own meals, check in for appointments, reorder prescriptions, etc.  It prepares both of you to believe your beast really can survive without you.

[Deut. 32:10b-11  He threw his arms around him, lavished attention on him,
        guarding him as the apple of his eye.
    He was like an eagle hovering over its nest,
        overshadowing its young,
    Then spreading its wings, lifting them into the air,
        teaching them to fly.]

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Oh, by the way….

11 May

How late is the bookstore open?

How late is the bookstore open?

 

After 16 years of motherhood, just yesterday I finally had the epiphany around the gravity of these words… “Oh, by the way.”   Now that I’m enlightened, I feel compelled to share this so others won’t be blindsided.  Basically, when you hear “Oh, by the way” from your adolescent beast, brace yourself or take a seat. This introductory statement will only mean one of two things:  your beast needs you to do something, or some new and possibly unfortunate information is coming your way.  Some typical examples you may recognize:

  • Oh, by the way, I need to have a copy of A Tale of Two Cities for school tomorrow.
  • Oh, by the way, I am out of lunch money.
  • Oh, by the way, I drank all the milk.
  • Oh, by the way, I’ve been out of soap in my shower for about a week.
  • Oh, by the way, I ran out of my prescription.
  • Oh, by the way, I need to be at school by 6:45 tomorrow.
  • Oh, by the way, I signed you up to bring two dozen cookies in the morning.
  • Oh, by the way, Jack, Milan, Cody, Nathan and Carson are spending the night — can you pick them all up?

I am fairly certain there is rarely a time when “oh, by the way” delivers a message of pleasantries or good news.  Wouldn’t it be nice if the following sentiments were ever uttered?

  • Oh, by the way, you look really pretty today Mommy.
  • Oh, by the way, I did the dishes and vacuumed the house.
  • Oh, by the way, I’m going to start a study group.
  • Oh, by the way, I just wanted to tell you and Dad how much I love you.

None of those word combinations sound normal right?  That’s because they’re not. Especially when they’re introduced with “Oh, by the way.”  You see, a normal beast is not normally proactive in communication.  And “Oh, by the way” is the beginning of a new topic in conversation. Therefore, it is with good measure that a parent be concerned when their teen initiates a conversation that starts with this phrase.

But on the flip side, we can use it to ‘encourage’ quality time.  Such as accompanying us on the errand, have them help bake the cookies, clean living room before company arrives, tell us about their assignment, learn how to call the prescription in, etc.   In spite of the element of surprise, the nice truth is that “Oh, by the way” works in our favor too.  In fact, I have found that my beasts love me much more openly when they need something.  And oh, by the way, I’m not ashamed to exploit that.

Parenting Tip:  Request the things you want when they need things you can give.

[Galatians 6:10  Therefore as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.]

 

New phase. Sad phase? Good phase!

15 Feb

A little boy's party

A little boy’s party

My eldest turned sixteen this week and last night was the planned sleepover/ hang-out with all of his buddies.  I started off the day doing what any normal mommy does for their beast’s birthday and decorated for his party.  (A typical mom trying to hold on to her baby and keep him her ‘little boy’.)  I thought it would be funny to put up some cutesy decor so he’d be surprised upon coming home from school to see the dinosaur-themed balloons, plates, napkins, streamers and pencil eraser party favors.

By day’s end, my quite-at-peace, goofy mommy phase transitioned.  Such a bittersweet and surreal moment when you come home from work and find strange cars in your driveway, only to realize they belong to your beast’s friends.  I know they’ve grown up.  I’ve even seen some driving around town.  But not until it was in my own home did it hit me that this is a totally new phase.  The baby beasts are moving on, and I guess I should too.   So my sentimental side pondered it and worked to cope with the reality that this is the beginning of the good-bye.  Independence.  Self-sufficiency.  The apron strings are appearing quite severed.

Then came the major pole shift.  The light bulb moment.  The cool breeze across my mind awakening me to the reality that this isn’t a sad, bittersweet phase at all.  This is a good phase.  They have their own cars.  They want their independence.  They want to be self-sufficient.  I can leave and go have dinner with my husband at my favorite Mexican dive because they just drove themselves to get their own food.  I don’t have to cook for them.  In fact, one of his friends even made and brought over a birthday cake!  Another drove in the driveway to hand off a huge bag of carrots to my birthday beast.  (I know that part sounds weird but the big beast loves carrots.)  I just sat back and let it all happen.

Teenage take out

Teenage take out

And the best part was when I woke up this morning…. they had already gone to get their own donuts too!  I am so off the hook.  Well…. at least until my younger beast turns sixteen.  2 years and 8 months to go.

Parenting Tip:  Whether you’re prone to let go or hang on – you don’t ever get to stop loving them. It’s just a natural part of us.

[Romans 8:38-39  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.]

Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Teenage Boys

17 Dec

I would think it really easy to fill a girl’s Christmas stocking — lip gloss, nail polish and those fun scented hand sanitizers.  Pretty much anything in a CVS or Walgreens would work for a girl.  As my beasts have gotten older, I have found it more difficult to find decent stocking stuffers that aren’t real expensive.  So here is a list that will hopefully help other mothers (who are raising beasts of their own) with new ideas to fill the Christmas stocking. By the way, these ideas are in no particular order.

energy chews

energy chews

An option to gummy chews, but not candy. They contain electrolytes and are great for athletes who do endurance events.

flavored milk straws

flavored milk straws

These come in tons of flavors and are usually in the grocery stores, Walmart and Target.

meat of any kind

meat of any kind

There were a couple of years my eldest literally had meat on his Christmas list… so why not?  Summer sausage or jerky fits in a stocking quite well.

 
car adaptor for phone

car adapter for phone

extra phone charger

extra phone charger

film to protect phone

film to protect phone

pocket flashlight

pocket flashlight

pocket knife

pocket knife

sports beans

sports beans

These also have electrolytes in them and are great for long tournament days or meets.

performance socks

performance socks

energy additive for water

energy additive for water

Parenting Tip: And if you want to add something from the heart, you can include a Christmas letter to your beast that tells them all the things they won’t sit still to listen to — how proud you are of them, what you like about their character, how you’ve seen them grow, a specific act they’ve done that you found admirable.  Because at the end of what may have been a trying, frustrating or confusing year — it’s good to be told you’re loved, admired and that Mom sees the positive things too.

Merry Christmas!!

Yes, you can buy love

14 Oct

Our newest family members.

Our newest family members — Maggie and Cash.

I’ve posted in a past blog, “Love Hurts ,” how as the beasts get older, their willingness to show affection decreases.  (If I were smart enough, I’d create the mathematical formula that proves affections towards mom decrease in proportion to the increase of adolescent hormones.)  With my younger beast having turned 13 yesterday, I decided I was ready to take matters into my own hands and decided to do some outsourcing —  I got a couple of puppies.

Yes, it was a drastic move but I know dogs won’t let their people down when it comes to affection.  They won’t be embarrassed by me around others.  They won’t ignore me in public. I can cuddle them morning, noon or night.  And they’ll be happy to see me every time I walk in the door, not just when I’m holding a Subway sandwich.

I don’t want to short-change my beasts too much — they are still pretty good to me, but a mother has needs. Plus this decision to outsource my need for affection comes with an added bonus my beasts could never fulfill — puppy breath!

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