Friday, May 9, 2014

Mom where r u?

"Right beside you, always watching u while trying to resist mommy peer pressure and keep u safe!"

. . . is how I wanted to respond to one of the Superego's first text messages.  

She has turned 12, and with that comes the cracking of the cell phone Pandora’s box.  We’re still keeping a safety net in place, but the box lid is open just a bit and mommy is sh*tting bricks.  I’ve already received the “Mom where r u” text at least once (as I was sitting in the parking lot 10 feet away waiting for her).  I imagine it’s only the first of MANY.

For the record, that is a USED iPhone that daddy would not have had to purchase were it not for the fact that mommy's old iPhone looks like this:

As I enter Mother’s Day weekend with an extremely heavy heart for the moms whose hearts are breaking in Nigeria, I have had a chance to reflect on what it means to be a mom.  As exhausting as my “job” as a mom is, I wouldn’t trade it for anything and everyday I learn a little bit more about myself, my kids, my husband, and most importantly, my own mom!

And just because God has a sense of humor . . . my Mother’s Day week was off to a bang.  I had FIVE conversations with other moms about their children’s behavior, TWO conferences with THE SAME CHILD'S teacher, and ONE doozy of a conversation with a mom about my kids’ behavior; and THAT was only Monday!!!

It’s now Friday, and I feel like I’ve run a Marathon and I have to get up tomorrow and do it all again.  And no matter how many blisters I get, I am going to keep on running. . . .

. . . because my girls make me laugh harder than I could imagine, cry because I’m so proud, and feel joy that is indescribable when they reach their goals.  It’s because of that, and the fact that I have an incredible village of moms to help me raise my kids that I keep running.  It takes courage, strength, integrity and a whole lot of alcohol to survive this thing they call Motherhood.  One Sunday a year is not nearly enough to thank mine for all that she has done or meant to me.

And on that “mommy’s job never ends” note . . . last Saturday night I got a glimpse of just how wild 12 year-old kids can be with just a bit of sugar and a DJ.  It was the Superego’s birthday party and in a separate post I will cover one of the best parties we’ve ever thrown.

But first, as I enter what I’ll call the “junior high of motherhood”, I’m gonna share some cell phone greatest hits and what I’ve learned from other moms this week:

Tween Cell Phone Greatest Hits – Week 1:

     1)   If you’ve ever received a phone call from your child asking if she can text you and THEN she sends you a text AND THEN follows it up with ANOTHER phone call asking you if you’ve received the text . . . you have too few people on the “allowed” list and you need to relax the cell phone parental controls to add Auntie Ju Ju to the “can call” list.
     2)   If you’ve ever used your child’s phone to call your own phone (which you have misplaced in your purse) . . . you may be grateful that your child now has a phone because heaven forbid you walk 12 feet to call from your landline.  And by the way, if the only person you ever call from your landline is yourself in order to find your phone, you really need to re-evaluate whether you actually NEED a landline!  DUH!

     3)   If you’ve ever sent a text of Theo James to your child and didn’t realize until later that you had done this and had your husband ask “who’s Theo James and why are you texting pictures of him?” . . . you better buckle your seatbelt because this is ONLY THE BEGINNING of stupid texts your child will send to and from your phone.

No clue she had sent this text until later when I was checking HER text messages.
4)   If you’ve ever heard the sweet music of thirty-five annoyed 6th graders groaning because you confiscated their cell phones at a party in your home . . . you’re doing something right!!

And speaking of confiscating those phones, here’s what I learned from other moms this week about cell phone rules: Following are three different experiences with moms whose children attended the Superego's party and what I’d like to say to them regarding my "no cell phones at the party" policy.  

(NOTE: I did inform the parents before the party that if the children brought them to the party their phones would be held by me until the party was over.  The children were, of course, told and it was noted in an e-mail to parents that if the child needed to call their parent, they could have their phone for that purpose OR, parents could call me – the responsible adult in charge and into whose care they chose to leave their children for three hours!)

     1)   To the mom who called me at 11:15pm on the night of the party to chastise me about my cell phone policy and accuse me of preventing her from having access to her child . . . Thank you for reminding me of the importance of minding my manners and remembering that when I am speaking to the hostess of a party where my child has been entertained for three hours, I might want to remember that before I believe everything my child says and go guns blazing at a mom who is only up to be answering my phone call because my child made a huge mess in her home. . . I should read my e-mail that said my child would always be allowed to call home and if I need to reach my child, to please call the PARENT IN CHARGE.

      2)   To the MOM who instagrammed a video from the party . . . Thank you for violating the very spirit of the reason I asked that there not be phones in the first place.  Thank you also for reminding me that although the videos I take on my phone are "mine", the people and the images within do not belong to me and I should ask permission before broadcasting videos.  You shared videos of my home, my children and my guests without mine or their permission, and while I appreciate that it was to share how much fun the kids were having and how great the party was, it didn’t respect mine nor the privacy of my guests.

     3)   And finally, to the mom who before the party sent me this . . . “I LOVE your cell phone policy . . . #saynototheselfieculture” (for Husband from Heaven’s benefit, that’s a “hashtag”, not a “pound sign”), THANK YOU for your support, understanding, graciousness and respect.  It is moms like you who help keep me going.

HfH and I are now in uncharted and quite frankly, frightening territory.  A cell phone can be an extremely helpful tool – to track where your child is, who they have been with, what they are thinking, how they are behaving, to reach them when you need to, and most importantly as leverage for when you want them to modify bad behavior.  It can also provide terrifying access and vulnerability to you and your family.  Not that I’m one to talk about privacy considering how much I reveal on the blog, but there needs to be a time when it’s ok to say “no photos please” and other moms support you as you #saynototheselfieculture, rather than making you feel as small as you did when YOU were in junior high.
Following are resources we found to help with parental cell phone anxiety and at the very end, the coolest video about moms that I’ve ever seen.

Kajeet – This is a cell phone service where among other things you can:
Block unwanted calls (i.e. calls can only be made to or received from approved phone numbers – sorry about that Auntie Ju Ju, it’s been fixed).
Set Time limitsremotely you can prevent your child from using his/her phone during certain times (i.e. during school, or after a reasonable lights out period at sleepovers)
Find your kidin addition to a GPS tracking mechanism, you can set up an e-mail alert system to tell you when your child arrives at school, home or extra-curricular activity
Prevent unsafe website access – even on smart phones you can block which websites your children have access to.

And, each week the service sends you an e-mail to let you know who your child has texted, called, what websites they visited and when, etc.  This service is invaluable.

Cell Phone contract – This is from a Facebook post by the San Diego Star 94.1 DJ's Jeff & Jer Showgram.  The contract beautifully encapsulated what I was thinking and wanted to say to the Superego.

Gregory’s iphone contract by Janell Burley Hofmann, 

December 25, 2012

Dear Gregory
Merry Christmas! You are now the proud owner of an iPhone. Hot Damn! You are a good & responsible 13 year old boy and you deserve this gift. But with the acceptance of this present comes rules and regulations. Please read through the following contract. I hope that you understand it is my job to raise you into a well rounded, healthy young man that can function in the world and coexist with technology, not be ruled by it. Failure to comply with the following list will result in termination of your iPhone ownership.
I love you madly & look forward to sharing several million text messages with you in the days to come.
1. It is my phone. I bought it. I pay for it. I am loaning it to you. Aren’t I the greatest?
2. I will always know the password.
3. If it rings, answer it. It is a phone. Say hello, use your manners. Do not ever ignore a phone call if the screen reads “Mom” or “Dad”. Not ever.
4. Hand the phone to one of your parents promptly at 7:30pm every school night & every weekend night at 9:00pm. It will be shut off for the night and turned on again at 7:30am. If you would not make a call to someone’s land line, wherein their parents may answer first, then do not call or text. Listen to those instincts and respect other families like we would like to be respected.
5. It does not go to school with you. Have a conversation with the people you text in person. It’s a life skill. *Half days, field trips and after school activities will require special consideration.
6. If it falls into the toilet, smashes on the ground, or vanishes into thin air, you are responsible for the replacement costs or repairs. Mow a lawn, babysit, stash some birthday money. It will happen, you should be prepared.
7. Do not use this technology to lie, fool, or deceive another human being. Do not involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others. Be a good friend first or stay the hell out of the crossfire.
8. Do not text, email, or say anything through this device you would not say in person.
9. Do not text, email, or say anything to someone that you would not say out loud with their parents in the room. Censor yourself.
10. No porn. Search the web for information you would openly share with me. If you have a question about anything, ask a person – preferably me or your father.
11. Turn it off, silence it, put it away in public. Especially in a restaurant, at the movies, or while speaking with another human being. You are not a rude person; do not allow the iPhone to change that.
12. Do not send or receive pictures of your private parts or anyone else’s private parts. Don’t laugh. Someday you will be tempted to do this despite your high intelligence. It is risky and could ruin your teenage/college/adult life. It is always a bad idea. Cyberspace is vast and more powerful than you. And it is hard to make anything of this magnitude disappear – including a bad reputation.
13. Don’t take a zillion pictures and videos. There is no need to document everything. Live your experiences. They will be stored in your memory for eternity.
14. Leave your phone home sometimes and feel safe and secure in that decision. It is not alive or an extension of you. Learn to live without it. Be bigger and more powerful than FOMO – fear of missing out.
15. Download music that is new or classic or different than the millions of your peers that listen to the same exact stuff. Your generation has access to music like never before in history. Take advantage of that gift. Expand your horizons.
16. Play a game with words or puzzles or brain teasers every now and then.
17. Keep your eyes up. See the world happening around you. Stare out a window. Listen to the birds. Take a walk. Talk to a stranger. Wonder without googling.
18. You will mess up. I will take away your phone. We will sit down and talk about it. We will start over again. You & I, we are always learning. I am on your team. We are in this together.It is my hope that you can agree to these terms. Most of the lessons listed here do not just apply to the iPhone, but to life. You are growing up in a fast and ever changing world. It is exciting and enticing. Keep it simple every chance you get. Trust your powerful mind and giant heart above any machine. I love you. I hope you enjoy your awesome new iPhone. Merry Christmas!

“Mom” Job Description – This video will make you laugh and cry!

And finally, to two very special moms as we enter Mother’s Day weekend –

To My Mom - You are my hero!  You had a full-time job, attended countless soccer games, baseball games, gymnastics meets and choir performances; volunteered for every committee known to man; stayed at my grad night party even when I had already left it because you committed to being the midnight chaperone; and still had dinner on the table every night!  You also suffered every mother’s worst nightmare when your precious son was taken from you way too soon; and yet, you get up every morning, check on your kids multiple times, visit your grandbunnies so often they think you live here and enjoy the laughter and joys of life.  THANK YOU for the example that you set and the boundless love you have given me, my husband and our children!

To Husband from Heaven’s mom – I imagine that Mr. "From Heaven” gave you a fair share of heartburn when he was growing up, but I’m here to attest that he listened to all your rules and boundaries and good advice.  He is now taking out years of having to follow your rules on our kids and making them follow them too!  He is an incredible man, amazing father and of course, a Husband from Heaven.  Thank you for sharing him with me and making him such an extraordinary person.  I am the luckiest woman in the world!

Happy Mother's Day to the incredible village of mothers out there!  Thank you is not adequate to express my gratitude.

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