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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Parental Facebook Crashers

I often wonder what my parents would have posted if Facebook would have been around when I was growing up.  If there is a prayer of thanks I should say every night, it should include gratitude for the fact that it wasn't.
My mom was a stay home mom, which meant I was a stay at home kid. Which very well could have meant that I was very annoying to her at times. In fact I know I was. I often heard my mom make excuses for me like, "my daughter is hyper active." Or say things like "that isn't her real voice, she just likes making up voices to throw people off "
I blame it on being the youngest. My brother and sister were off doing their things, my sister was working her way up the corporate ladder at Taco Bell and my brother was rehearsing and singing.  So not exactly your typical upbringing. I never did complain about the pintos "n" cheese she brought home  or to the candy my mom would give me to be quiet during my brother's performance.  But being the only child at home most of the time,  I was given more freedom. Freedom without limitations to our  refrigerator which back then was stocked with Tab. Hyperactivity explained, and actually, that would explain the voices too.
So thankfully all my childhood oddities weren't captured in cyberspace like my kids are.
However, my parents, now in their seventies, are on Facebook.  My dad has two accounts because he forgot his password on his first one.  Yes, I suggested just creating a new password but he said he couldn't because he couldn't log in.  My mom has only one account thank goodness, but that is because they have a piece of paper (longer than my CVS receipt) of account passwords next to their computer.   I have often been to their home for dinner when my dad slips away during the salad so he can fire up his computer to use after dessert.
Recently however they have begun to do something that I find utterly confusing.  My mom is the sweetest mother a daughter could ask for. Always offering words of encouragement.  My dad is equally encouraging but on a much quieter scale. I have never heard my dad comment on my hair or my shape.
But lately he has been posting some pretty thoughtful, yet un-Dadlike things on my photos or status updates.  Like "You are a sweetheart xoxox" or "what a great shot!"
My dad recently turned 77 so I thought maybe he was getting a little sensitive. I know that when my grandpa got older he became more sensitive too, like sensitive to my financial situation in college and would slip me 20 dollar bills across the table.  Yet, he also had dementia and would quickly instruct me to put the money in my shoe. I would have put it in my ear if he would have told me to.
I chalked my Dad's recent openness was just one of the many perks of getting older, until his comments which are next to his picture also said "xoxo Mom"
Apparently my mom has been logging on to Facebook after my dad hasn't logged off and writing comments. It may sound cute, when talking to their daughter. However, when my dad wrote on my friends wall and wished her a happy birthday and suggested they go to lunch, that is when it got weird.
Of course my dad wasn't publicly hitting on my beautiful single friend, it was my mom.
So I have to wonder if having my parents on Facebook as an adult with children is worse than if they would have had it in the 80's.  Now for example, if I post a picture of my son doing something funny I can bet each of my phones will be called, and if not reached the same message will be left on every single one. "Hi Sweatheart, is that picture of Jack hanging upside down real or was that trick photography? I'm at home. Call me" You can also bet that if I don't immediately respond to the messages there will be an email to every email account with the subject title " IS JACK OK?" Followed by a similar text, all in caps.
By the time I do receive all the messages I start to question if his safety actually was in jeopardy and now its in cyberspace to be judged by all.  I will spare you her reaction when she saw a picture of a wine bottle my friend brought.... to share. She did call the next morning around 7 to make sure I didn't have a headache.
Despite my encouragement, my parents are not big drinkers.
If anything, I should be thankful that my parents still show an interest in my life... and maybe even thankful that it can be done through a computer screen and not with a knock on the door.
And just in case they lose their passwords again I "jotted them down" in the notes section of my iphone.  That way, if my "dad"  makes another lunch date with my friend I can quickly intervene. Or perhaps life has come full circle and since they didn't have the opportunity to boast about me as a kid, they are certainly doing it now.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Revolving Door

I would like to take a vacation from inside my head. I spend a lot of time there. And the truth is, it's a mess. Thoughts flying here and there.  Worries running rampant.  Memories. Doubts. Feelings.
There are times I wish I could just escape from it and focus on the outside rather than  getting lost in the chaos on the inside.  In order to do this however, I would need to go to an island that has yet to be discovered. Because if it was previously discovered they would find me.  One boy would need to have his pants pulled up, or the wrapper removed from his Popsicle. Or God forbid they needed to open a new gallon of milk.
So reality is, I need to discover an invisible island closer to home.
I have been a one woman show while my husband has been away this summer.  And it seems that I have been training to be a ninja or something because I have been put to several tests.  Things I thought were way too hard for me, I have just had to do. I mowed the lawn. That sounds simple, but it took me 10 minutes just to figure out how to start it.  I know a lot of women feel that they don't need a man, but I am not one of those women. I desperately need a man, and specifically mine.
I also have been elected to take care of my husband's classroom pet which happens to be a lizard.  I don't like reptiles, but we could have ended up with a mouse so I'm not complaining. Except for the fact that they eat live crickets.  And for the unfortunate fact that my son had a hard time closing the lid to the cricket container which resulted in at least 5 of them escaping to various rooms in our house and cricketing for 5 days.  It was like we were camping in doors.
However, the hardest challenge I have faced was having to make the decision to put our beloved chocolate lab down.   Since Don left, Graham's health had declined and with that decline I have had to pick him up to go outside, cleaned several accidents and had to stand as a body guard to our other lab who suddenly had become the victim of his senile aggression.  I finally had to make the final decision on my own.
This is when I retreat back into my head. A revolving door filled with memories, feelings and mostly doubt. Spinning and spinning.  Telling four little boys that I have to take their furry brother to be put on a one way trip to Heaven was not an easy task. They have never known life without Graham.   They seemed to look past the fact that he was in the same spot all day or that I would have to carry him to the door some mornings, or that he panted non-stop. To them,  he didn't seem sick at all.
Despite the actual process of putting him down at the vet, watching each of my son's say their personal goodbyes to their first pet was probably the hardest part. It was a unique opportunity to get a glimpse of their personalities. They were each different yet all sincere and to witness their courage and grief was heartbreaking.
What was evident is that they have a healthier understanding and coping mechanism than I do and most adults.  They accepted the reality and the knowledge they couldn't do anything else. That freeing their dog from constant pain was the only solution. And they believe that he is in a happier place and know he will be wagging his tail when he greets them in 90 years.  I am much more cynical and found myself, yet again in the depths of my head trying to justify keeping Graham around just so Don could take him when he got home in 2 weeks.  I was thinking of myself and doubting my strength to do what had to be done.
In an effort to escape reality, I  took the boys to a movie.  Plus, it was hot as hell outside and the cool theater was perfect.  I spent $30 at the concession stand and didn't even notice. I did however notice that my small bottle of water was $4.50. I asked the guy if it was holy water and he apparently didn't think I was very funny.
I decided that I was pretty lucky that Movies 14 could also be our dinner place. A $34.50 meal must be substantial enough, it is corn after all.  But alas, I was not satisfied with my 1050 calorie dinner so after we emerged into the blinding light,  I decided to go to the store and buy a muffin and a bottle of wine.
Again, it had been a rough day and I wasn't thinking clearly or I would not have taken three of the boys with me to get 2 items.  But because the youngest had been at his daycare for the afternoon, I thought it was my only chance... and I really wanted a muffin.
We entered through the side door which has a deli and more importantly a muffin cart.  They have been doing a remodel and had installed a revolving door. I think it is an attempt to keep people from leaving with their shopping carts.  Up until this point I had never given much thought to the fact that Jack the 5 year old had never been in one.  How Midwestern of me to say that.   I swear we take him out once in awhile. But judging by what happened next, I seriously think he had never seen one.
When in public we walk like ducks. I'm in front and there is a single file line behind me.  At least there is suppose to be.  We can't walk next to each other because last time we tried that it turned in to a roaming game of Red Rover.  Red Rover Red Rover, knock that display of Oreos right over.
 I was on a mission to the muffins and didn't notice that Fin and Jack were not directly behind me. When I turned around to see where they were I saw Jack in one side of the 3 sided revolving door, Fin in another and an elderly couple, probably in their early nineties in the other.  It was not moving. Jack was pushing the opposite direction as the old couple, Fin was trying to push the other way and the old couple as well as Jack were perplexed as to why the doors where not revolving. The old couple tried to go the other way, but Fin was stopping that.  The old couple looked like a wind up toy hitting the edge of a wall and turing around to hit the other wall. I could tell Jack was starting to get scared in his glass coffin.  When I saw the old lady trying to stick her cane out I thought they were going to lodge themselves in there and we were going to need to call the Fire Department.  That is when Jack started crying and Fin started yelling at Jack for crying. And Parker who was with me had disappeared somewhere by the doughnuts.  Jack had decided to give up and sit.
I started yelling at Fin to stop yelling at Jack and instructed all parties to move in one direction.  Did I mention it was new and not easily moving.  Finally the strength of an 8 and 5 year old and a really old couple was enough to set Fin free and allowed me to assist the door to free Jack. The old couple went off to their car, which gave me a new reason to believe that most seniors, especially very senior seniors should not be behind the wheel.
When I turned around there was a small audience.
If anything, it taught Jack to stick closer to me.  I went on to get my comfort muffin and wine plus a few post door trauma doughnuts and when we left the store we decided to exit all bunched together.
Life works like that. You can have a crappy day and get stuck in a revolving door, or you can move forward to get out with a doughnut.
There is no doubt that challenges I have faced this past week have been some of the most difficult I have had to face. And although I didn't have my husband, who is my emotional compass and rock I lean on, I had our boys. Who despite feeling immense sadness themselves, my little ducks came together and surrounded their mom in a protective nest.  Sometimes physical closeness, all huddled together on the couch can be more comforting than any words could provide.  Just as physical closeness also proved to work better in navigated through a revolving door. Both a metaphorically and in real life.
The night before Graham died the boys similarly did the cuddle huddle around him for hours.  If he felt a sliver of the love I experienced from my little men that night, there is no doubt he passed on being the happiest dog on Earth.