Another Sexy-time Fun Mom Weekend

Originally posted on lifeinthespectrum.com.

I pulled my head out from under the covers a few minutes ago. I wanted to stay there, but who has time for that kind of shutdown?

Please note that I wasn’t there because I was sleeping nor was sexy-time on the books. I actually got out of bed hours ago because I needed to make breakfast, do some cleaning, and ideally have a little family time. Unfortunately the family that decided to join me for that time (my own) was irritating the crap out of me, so I ended up extricating myself from the area due to safety concerns for all within my range.

Upon returning to my own room, I immediately found myself dealing with unexpected calls and texts from the outside world regarding outside world craziness. Apparently madness knows no bounds. My husband and I barked at each other momentarily in response to all that (which never ceases to be ironic because we are rarely truly mad at each other about the outside insanity but rather just stressed in general about scenarios neither of us can fix). Following our scrappy moment, he left the room and I proceeded to climb back into bed and pull the covers over my head like I was hiding from a vampire (that has lived under my bed for decades waiting to strike if I mistakenly happen to leave a toe exposed outside of my blanket as I fall asleep) (because apparently this vampire has a thing about toes but not actual heads / necks) (yes it’s weird, okay???).

Does anyone else do this? Something childish and ridiculous like literally putting the covers and pillows over your head in a futile attempt to turn it all off for a few minutes? Truth be told, I would greatly prefer blasting music to literally drown out the noise with a louder better rhythmic beat. Unfortunately that would simply call the aforementioned housemates (a.k.a. my children) to me like rump shakin’ rats to an inappropriate hip-hop and 90s rap playing pied piper.

I. Need. Space.

But too bad for me. There’s crap to do, and times a-wastin’.

So here I am. Newly emerged from the covers once more and tapping away to write this post on my phone in a desperate attempt to syphon off some of my excessive irritation and overall overwhelmed everything that is circling furiously around my brain. But even that has to stop because, as I said previously, I got shiznet to handle.

Hopefully you, too, will find your way out of the covers. Best of luck on your own sexy-time weekend plans. Peace out.

Jo

Originally posted on lifeinthespectrum.com.

Parenting Reality – Back to School Photo Fails — Life in the Spectrum

Don’t believe this first pic. The rest all looked like my kids were about to go torch and pitchfork shopping. Hope these photos are more fun to see than they were to take!  😉

(post below)

 

I love it when I meet a parent who owns the reality that comes with raising kids. There’s the family life that we typically display on social media (image above). And then there’s every other minute of the day that we constantly attempt to keep tucked away along with the rest of the crazy we […]

via Parenting Reality – Back to School Photo Fails — Life in the Spectrum

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Parenting Struggle – Is Conformity Helpful or Harmful?

***Originally posted on lifeinthespectrum.com.

nana compare

This photo comparison cracks me up. It’s a perfect reflection of both sides of the coin that make up this funny beautiful awesome girl of mine.

As one who tends to preach owning your individuality, I find myself feeling more than a hair hypocritical that I struggle with the concept of conformity when it applies to my children. On the one hand I genuinely want them to stay away from running with the herd and just focus on being themselves whatever that may mean. However the other parenting part of me – the part that (likely incorrectly) assumes that their childhood challenges will be the same as those I faced – worries that their exclusion from that group will lead them to being trampled by it.

In my mind, the word “conformity” has always taken on a shadowy pejorative connotation, but LA at wakinguponthewrongsideof50.wordpress.com/ at wrote a post that got me thinking (her posts have a fantastic way of doing just that). Is conformity really as bad as I have made it out to be?

Are there times when we should encourage some level of conformity for the sake of finding a moderate level of acceptance and comfort within one’s peer group? Could this be particularly true in the case of my comical kid (photos above) as she heads to middle school? If I said nothing, she would probably head of to school in full 80’s gym / wolf cub chic style. ***Please refer to this ridiculous yet true post on my primary blog for wolf cub reference clarification  —> so-i-just-waxed-my-daughters-leg.

The honest truth is that I believe that my daughter would be more than okay with either photo opp kind of look because she would never be a conformist no matter what she might be wearing. The perception of others has never defined my kids, and ultimately, the issue is not theirs. It’s mine.

Quite ironically, I really do recognize the error in my thought process. I just can’t seem to get that mama bear protection instinct to go gentle into that good night. I look for in style clothes that they like but that they also find as cool as the mismatched hole-riddled outfits that they already had in their drawers. I try to get them to fix their hair in moderately non-dorky ways and bug them about taking care of their teeth so they won’t reek of monkey butt breath. The non-monkey butt breath mandate is one subject that leaves me with zero mom guilt because seriously – nobody wants in on your stank breath action. No. Body.

Breath funk aside, I do want my kids to feel free to be themselves fully. I just fear the pain that comes with their not being accepted and the hurt that is inevitable when you are ridiculed or excluded. Many of us still wrestle with these same social challenges as adults, but we also have greater control over whom we will allow into our world. We get to decide who we want to spend the bulk of our days with and release those who are hopelessly toxic (or let go of the icky as Mer the rockstar extraordinaire might say – merbearsworld.wordpress.com/).

But you don’t get to pick the kids who surround your children in middle school, and more often that not, a handful of big-mouthed self-designated mob bosses run that show like lord of the frickin’ flies. I am saddened by my own memories of that time period in my life, and I want desperately to keep my children from carrying those painful experiences throughout their own lives long after their school years have passed.

So I push more than I should. I nag about their needing to change their look instead of smiling and snapping another pic for the embarrassing wedding video down the road. I search for ways to help them blend in or try to direct them toward focusing on their unique characteristics that would be appealing en masse. My intentions are good, but I don’t know about the actual execution.

Parenting is an endless learning process, and you never really know if you get it right until you are past the moment when you get to pick your move. No matter what you read or whom you try to emulate, there is no conformity when it comes to being a mom or dad to your kids. We all do the best we can in our own funky individual ways just like our parents did with us. We found our way and our kids will, too.

As far as I’m concerned, the herd can stick it. My sweet-breathed kids are incredible individuals who are meant to shine in their own ways. No matter how much I worry, my well-meaning but off-kilter advice will never be able to hide their light. With that said, I still believe that the proper use of a hairbrush does go a long way. I’m just sayin’.

😉  Jo

***Originally posted on lifeinthespectrum.com.

So I Just Waxed My Daughter’s Leg

Not legs. Leg. And not even the whole leg. It was basically half of a leg.

There’s a reason why “Wax a Leg” has yet to hit the Top Things to do in Houston or Anywhere Else on the Planet list this year, and that reason is this. It sucks. Big frickin’ time. Nevertheless this was one of the more significant dicey parenting choices that I selected for today.

Although I will remain perpetually baffled at God’s decision to have me personally bake and subsequently care for three small humans of my own, I do try to make the best decisions I can for those miniature people. The issue is that the term “best decision” has proven to be a severely grey area that is frequently clear as mud until said decision has either proven to be a good one or a mega crapfest of a choice. The jury is still out on the hair removal du jour, but here’s the story at this point.

When a girl begins to bloom into the beauty of becoming a woman… Blech! Did you just throw up in your mouth a little, too? Who talks like that? (Way too many tampon commercials – that’s who.) Allow me to try this again.

There is no blooming occurring. The issue is simply this – my kid has furry legs, and she is too old to look like she is actively playing the role of Mr. Tumnus, the friendly faun from Narnia. Being a southern girl myself, I’m of the belief that if you are to the point in your life where you need a bra and deodorant, it’s time for your legs to exit the wolf pack.

I seriously contemplated teaching her how to shave, but the idea of handing a razor to my kid sounded good NEVER. Admittedly it’s a quicker approach on a single session basis, but shaving is never a single session anything. It is a commitment to a daily(ish) dance with a blade sliding around one’s knees, backs of legs, and whatever other south of the border action in need of landscaping. Without a doubt, waxing hurts hard core at first, but anyone who has gone that route multiple times will confirm that it gets much better. In addition you have to wax once a month maybe. The pain of waxing decreases dramatically, but that accidental slice of the razor never fades in the slightest. Depilatory creams stink to high heaven, and laser hair removal is crazy expensive and also quite painful.

I really did give the various alternatives extensive thought before initiating the world’s crappiest mother / daughter spa session. Ultimately, I felt like a couple of distinctly unfun bouts of waxing would far outweigh future winter leg fuzz so bristly that wire brushes would feel envious as well as the countless accidental razor slices in the years to come. Sadly (but not surprisingly), my preemptive evaluations were neither here nor there to my poor little she-wolf cub.

Naturally she loved all ten thousand swipes that jerked countless hairs out of each square millimeter of skin, and she heartily requested that I please just beat her in a burlap sack for our next girls’ only event. Because we were enjoying that special time together so much, we opted to hold off on de-furring the remaining thigh and entire other leg (because we ran out of wax and it was too effing stressful to even consider tackling lamb shank # 2).

So now I have a tweenager that has one lady leg and one puppy paw. My poor kid. Incredibly she is still speaking to me, and even more incredibly, we actually plan to finish both legs whenever the additional wax arrives.

Did I make the best choice on her behalf? I have no freaking clue. As I said, this is a long game approach, so only time will tell. I do have another daughter waiting in the wings, so maybe we will test run shaving on her when the time comes. Whichever teenager requires less therapy will win, and we can then inform the other she-wolf cubs accordingly. Based on this post, I am confident that ample therapy will be involved for all family members discussed herein, so perhaps we should consider devising an alternate evaluation system for best leg hair removal practices.

I’m not asking for anyone’s blessing on this. We all fly the parenting dysfunction flag in our own magical way, so no one else has to agree. In fact, you are welcome to judge me. I get it. Really. Try though you might, nobody in the world judges my parenting with greater severity than I do. But I draw the line at furry bra-less daughters with that naturally fresh scent of b.o. that burns all surrounding nose hairs. I just wish that there was a less painful alternative for all parties involved. Being a woman is rough stuff, and the coming of age crap we deal with is not for the faint of heart (or leg). Thankfully, my daughter is quite feisty (probably learned behavior from all that time with the wolves) and can survive anything that heads her way – even her own mom.

Bear hugs to all.  Jo

***My daughter is a total bad ass and actually handled today with tremendous bravery. In truth, we discussed the plan before we began. Of course talking about the discomfort of waxing in no way prepares anyone for the reality of experiencing the “discomfort” of waxing. Regardless she handled it so much better than I could have ever expected. That kid is a rockstar, and I adore her beyond words – fuzz and all.  😉

Another Jo Project – A Daughter’s Room Makeover Surprise with Ocean and Beach Themed Design and Decor

***Originally posted on https://anotherjoproject.com/.

1hannah after - window and desk - ocean and beach decor IG

I struggle with a tremendous amount of anxiety when my kids are away. It’s a long-standing pattern within my persona, and my therapy of choice for stress relief is to tackle another self-created project. To my husband’s great dismay, it’s an endless task, but I do turn out some fun results at times. So when my children went away to camp this past week, I channeled that nervous energy into decorating my daughter’s room.

She had been asking me to create an ocean and beach themed room for her since we moved into this home several months ago. Her walls remained bare because I had yet to put her room at the top of the design agenda. I didn’t have a design plan in mind, but I typically don’t until I get to work on a specific space. Regardless I was certain that it was going to be a monster project. Consequently it was perpetually hanging at the caboose end of the “Rooms Still Pending Design Work” list.

3hannah before - window wall

Although her room was bland, she kept it lively with random and ever-changing mountains o’ crap. As the mountains weren’t her optimal theme, she patiently waited her turn. To her sincere credit, she never complained nor did she make the slightest fuss when multiple other rooms were completed long before her own. As she had no idea that I was going to do anything to her room (likely because I came up with the plan minutes before her departure), it was a tremendous surprise for her (and an excellent time crunch motivator for me).

1hannah before - bed wall

To put it mildly, this room was a serious beast to knock out in under a week but I had been stockpiling a few ocean and beachy knick-knacks here and there. Thankfully Amazon Prime and Hobby Lobby were able to fill in a substantial amount of the gaping holes of my unplanned approach.

4hannah after - desk wall - ocean and beach decor IG

5hannah after - window wall - ocean and beach decor IG

 We also created several large display pieces with some unused distressed wood that we still had on hand from an office wall project I put together several months ago (that’s a separate post for another day). The pieces included a unique picture frame holder, a wreath display, and a name board. From a skill perspective, these weren’t difficult to complete. However from a time and pain in the butt-ness perspective, they were projects I would not recommend one do in a limited timeframe. I will write a post with DIY tips on how to create these for those who are interested.

Incredibly, we completed the room and put on the finishing touches right before we ran out the door to pick the kids up at the end of their camp week. It was exhausting beyond words, but her wonderfully shocked and ecstatic reaction made it all worth while.

2hannah after - bed and dresser - ocean and beach decor IG

More often than not, my life fails to look like the stuff of Hallmark movies. We mess up constantly. Lose our tempers. Get it wrong and then find a way to make it even worse.

But every now and then, we really get it right. And when that happens, it’s an immense gift to all of us.

I believe strongly in the value of creating a personal space that makes a person feel good, and it is extremely important to me that my family feels that their home is warm, inviting, and special. I love that I was able to create this room for my daughter because her elation with calling it her own is palpable.

Rejoice in the big parenting wins when they happen, but find joy in the smallest of good moments as well. It doesn’t have to be a room redo or a massive surprise. A simple “I love you” in the morning or a sweet note in a lunchbox is a world changer for children.

It’s not about the presents. It’s about your presence. Be there, see them, and let them know that no ocean in the world is anywhere near as deep as your love for them.

If you would like help with your kids’ rooms, drop me a line. If you have fun posts on your child room decor, I would love to hear about that, too!

I wish the very best to you all!  🙂

Jo Price

***Originally posted on https://anotherjoproject.com/.

To the Young Ones – Being a Nerd Won’t Always Hurt Like It Does Today

While my son was away from his seat at the cafeteria today, another child thought that it would be hilarious to throw his lunch / lunch bag into the trash can. Apparently the kids had been hiding his backpack during lunch on other days, but this is the first time that one of the items actually made it into the garbage.

The obvious question seems to be, “Knowing this dynamic, why leave your stuff unattended around those creeps, and why sit there anyway?” Well the school is very funny about keeping tables to a specific number of children. The old “I put my stuff there first so it’s my seat” rule is law. Weird? I think so. The way it is? Yes. Also that happens to be where my son’s friends sit, and, understandably, he wants to sit by them.

Middle school lunch can be social quicksand. Despite being well aware of this dynamic, my heart felt raw as I listened to my son tell me about how he had to dig through the school trash can to fish his lunch out of it. My sadness turned to anger when he told me how it was soaking wet from the discarded food and drinks and how he had to carry the bag with him to all of his remaining classes. He handed me one of his final exam reviews that is due tomorrow. It reeked of garbage and was shredded from being soaked. Normally he would have had a backpack for his assignments, but backpacks aren’t allowed during finals week. Instead he kept it in his lunch bag because there was nothing in there that would have messed it up. Apparently the only crap that could cause damage was in fact sitting in seats adjacent to said bag.

I’m tired of the immature jackass behavior that is rife in schools today. I’m even more exasperated with a feckless school disciplinary system that does nothing to wake these jerks out of their collective cruel stupor. The bullies believe that their meanness is comical, and although I will bring up this nonsense with the school administration, there will be no real consequence. Hope you nerds enjoy your garbage-flavored lunches and shredded assignments compliments of the social lemmings!

Unfortunately, as the years go by, you will find that the jerks and bullies still manage to fly their creep flags in full color. The social drama and cliques that people should outgrow after middle and high school will continue to appear more often than you can fathom. Social media amongst adults is uglier than any kid you ever saw. Some people in your life will find ways to hurt you to a degree that you could never even imagine.

Nevertheless, it does get better. Once you get older, you get to choose. You choose your partners, your friends, your job. You decide where you will live, what you will wear, and how you spend your time. You realize thay sometimes you roll your eyes at the craziness of it all, walk away from the computer, and put your phone on silent. Athough you may not always like your range of choices, they are yours to make. You get to decide the kind of life you want to live and with whom you will spend that precious time.

You learn to own who you are, and you stop apologizing for being different. You realize that you don’t want to be the same as everyone else. In fact, you want to shine in your own unique way. You don’t need for every person who knows you to like you, and you realize that all the “perfect” and “popular” people around you have plenty of problems of their own.

You just have to get through this part now. And when something else comes along that delivers your spirit another kick, don’t give in then either. It always gets better if you can muster a shred of hope and give it a little more time.

Don’t allow anyone else to put out your spark, and don’t sacrifice your light to someone else who stumbles in a moment of darkness. Never ever forget that their unkind actions are a reflection of who they are, not who you are.

So often the outcasts of the world are the very people who change it for the better. The nerds shake up the status quo, shape our minds, and provide vision to us all. The ones who are different are the ones who make a difference.

As a parent, it scratches my core raw when my children hurt like this. It takes everything within me to maintain a cool emotional facade because all I want to do is cry. I wouldn’t wish this pain on anyone, least of all my own darling children, and I know what it’s like to feel like you are watching the world from the outside. I understand being consumed by deep loneliness and feeling like you are being excluded. I don’t want this pain for my amazing family.

But taking a <a href=”http://retrospective“>retrospective look at my life also allows me to see that those same painful experiences have shaped me into a better person. While I still feel a heavy sadness at the memory of the cruelties I endured, I wouldn’t go back in time and change them. I developed strength, sass, and spitfire, and I will never allow anyone to take that away from me. It took me a long time to know it, but I can tell you this now – I am a serious bad ass. And in case you haven’t figured it out yet on your side, you are, too. You just have to own it.

You have been dealt this hand because you are strong enough to survive it and wise enough to learn from it. Treat others with the kindness you would want to receive. Be braver than those who can’t survive outside of the herd. Allow the light of your uniqueness to shine without shame even if others try to shut you down. And just in case the jerks are out and about, maybe wear pants with pockets so you can carry hand sanitizer and a snack. 😉

You may feel like people don’t see you now, but they will. You can’t hide light like that forever. So keep shining. Always

Love, light, sass, uniqueness, spitfire, wonder, and nerdiness to you – Jo

Retrospective

Parenting a Child in a World of Rapid Technological Changes

A long time ago in a house not so far, far away, I didn’t have children yet. Nevertheless I knew what I wouldn’t and wouldn’t allow them to do if I ever did. I would be a firm parent but always maintain a fun-loving atmosphere. My spouse and I would set rules and boundaries that would be agreed upon by all and we would avoid the obvious pitfalls that inevitably consumer Dr. Phil’s rotation of daily wailing families. Intelligence, consistency, and love would govern our family at all times.

Unsurprisingly to any parent in the universe, a flushing sound was heard in the background within seconds of the birth of my first child, and I watched every parenting certainty go swirling down the tubes out of sight never to be seen again. My former pre-parent list of “I would never … if those were my kids” items morphed into my actual parent list of “Questionable Choices Made Today” items. The only truism I now recognize without question is that before I had children, I didn’t have the slightest clue.

Parenting should be defined as the act of trying to make good choices while being faced with uncertain decisions, cloudy possibilities, and a heap of exhaustion. The one hour television shows that taught us how to parent with kindness and consistency didn’t cover the remaining twenty-three hours of the day nor did they detail the thousands of days to come after that.

And then you introduce technology onto the parenting scene. Bleh. These electronic wonders that were designed to make life easier and more entertaining are huge problems. The pre-parent me wouldn’t have seen that. That me put technology-saturated kids in the same category as fat dogs. Show me evidence that proves that your husky husky is opening up the fridge and making a butter and cream sandwich while the humans are sleeping. Perhaps he has a thyroid issue, or maybe he’s just big-boned. If not, he has likely become an adorable sausage with feet because the only resident individuals with thumbs happen to be overfeeding him. We’ve had a under-tall / over-fluffy canine of our own, so don’t start foaming at the mouth.

I saw the same dynamic with regard to kids and tech. A large part of me still agrees with the bulk of that assessment today. Very few children buy their own devices, and I have yet to meet a fifth grader who could give me cogent details regarding reasons that led them to a 24 month contract with their current internet service provider. Parents and caregivers almost exclusively hold the keys to the internet and cell phone kingdom, but much like everything else, it’s not that cut and dry.

Schools expect children to have technology in the classrooms for access to research and various apps. Outside of school, many children are also active on social media. My husband and I are social media buzzkills and therefore prohibit our children from having these kinds of accounts at this point in their young lives. We see too many adults behaving like means kids online, so we can’t imagine how far children would be willing to go. With that said, I did set up an Instagram account for my daughter’s photography work, but her contributions are sent to me and I post them. She has zero direct access. It’s not that I don’t trust her. It’s that I ABSOLUTELY DON’T TRUST HER. She’s brilliant and low on the trouble scale, but ultimately, she’s a kid! It is standard in the land of kid-dom to look to the “bonehead and no clue about the consequences” choices category when there are extensive other available alternate selections in the “obviously better and trouble-free” choices category.

As parents, we want to believe that our children would neeeeever make a poor decision like XYZ because we repeatedly taught them not to do anything like that ever ever ever. The problem is that those well-educated children still believe that we are the real boneheads feeding them made up stories and that ultimately we don’t know what we are talking about. So when my husband was scanning the kids’ phones a few days ago and discovered that our daughter did XYZ the other day, it was another monster parental wake up call. Her XYZ du jour happened to be creating a Twitter account without our knowledge. Thankfully she only set it up with her email address. And photo. And full name. And birthday. Aaaand frickin’ home address. Oh yes. She so did.  I’m only surprised that she didn’t come to me to request her social security number for her bio deets.

Do I really believe that she was intentionally trying to put her info out there for anyone in the world to see? Not in the slightest. A friend of hers already had a Twitter account, and our daughter wanted one, too. She had set up the account with her full information because those were the standard blanks (that most internet aware individuals would either skip or flag as private data).

Had we previously spoken with her on numerous occasions about information sharing and the dangers of giving out her personal data? Of course. Had we explained repeatedly that she would need to provide an opener for the can o’ whoop ass that we would be accessing if she were ever to set up an online account without our permission? Naturally. Did my child know better? Yes.

And no.

She clearly knew that she was not allowed to set up any accounts on the computer without our permission. That part made me mad. However she didn’t have the slightest comprehension about what someone else could do with that level of data. And that part terrified me. Hasta la never kid Twitter account.

Admittedly her move was not quite as fab as that of my friend’s young daughter. This precocious internet rockstar decided to set up her dad with a Match.com account without his knowledge. She keyed in his actual personal information and noted that he was looking to date senior citizen gay men. They promptly deleted the account as soon as they were notified about its existence via a signup confirmation email. While neither parent has issues with senior citizen gay men, they aren’t quite ready to go the open relationship route nor are they looking to post their personal information online.

Maybe their daughter simply believed that her dad had worked too hard for too long and was merely trying to find him a short-term sugar daddy with a long-term payout option. Speaking personally, I strongly disagree with the parents’ decision to delete the account. What if Elton John had been online moments later and feeling frisky??? NO ONE SHOULD RISK MISSING THAT CALL. But alas, the account is now gone forever like a candle in the wind.

You can’t make this crap up. While one might be tempted to give them props for initiative, creativity, and true comedic style, neither their daughter nor ours saw the dangers in their actions. What if Elton had called? That girl could be left fatherless now. Or maybe she would have multiple fathers (one of whom would have a far better wardrobe than she could ever imagine – imagine the years of insecurity she would have to survive). And then there’s the whole “extensive personal data that doesn’t belong on the internet” thing.

At least I have another darling who is a few years older and would never make those poor choices. He prefers alternate poor choices including an ongoing penchant for circumventing or outright breaking the app lock I have on his phone (it keeps them from downloading, deleting, or accessing various applications). I don’t know how this mini-hacker does what he does, but I strongly suspect that I purchased an app designed by a five-year old. (I call quality apps such as these crapplications.) So when we discovered that he did his own magical app lock unlock feat yet again, I went on a wide-reaching tech raid at home. Both phones are resting snugly on my nightstand as I type and the power cords to the game systems have gone into hiding.

Image result for fork knife meme

Somehow there are other parents who are even more clueless than I. Thank you for displaying your tech noob-ness online and at Best Buy. Take heart though. It’s been years yet I still can’t get used to the word pnw.

The problem is that banishing the tech quickly goes from general punishment to making your child a social pariah. When we were kids, we did wild and crazy things like play outside and talking to each other about anything at all. This might still be possible with the littles, but it isn’t as common for the bigs and even more unlikely if are not within walking or biking distance of their pals.

On a temporary basis, I’m all good with rule breaking resulting in no game playing. It’s back to the “your dog is a chunk, so put less food in his bowl” approach. It seems obvious, right? But literally within days, they can become extremely isolated from their peers.

Recent studies have shown that ten zillion and three kids play games like Fortnite (or Fork Knife for you nerd-challenged parents whom I adore). When they do this, most play via online interactive teams with their friends who are also playing from their own homes. If children aren’t part of the specific teams, they don’t have that shared experience. If they don’t have the shared experience, they don’t have anything to talk about at school the next day. Or the next day. Or the next. The same goes for lack of access to YouTube or social media. If you have ever attempted having a conversation with a techie kid about anything offline, you may find that it’s short but probably not too sweet. They no longer know how to converse with adults or comfortably connect with their peers at a personal level without an intermediary – technology.

I do recognize that this problem is in no way applicable to every child, but this is a pervasive problem for countless our families. Too many brilliant teenagers struggle with basic writing and are unable to have face to face conversations. Meals are spent with a fork in one hand and a phone in the other. I saw an article detailing the extreme loneliness the younger generations are currently experiencing. No surprise there. Even when they are together, they might as well be in a room by themselves with a phone or remote. Everything circles around moment to moment entertainment and stimulation. Video to video to video and game to game to game and site to site to site. We see it everywhere we go.

How do I get in front of this now? How can I keep my children from falling into the electronic rabbit hole? I could choose to trust my children and recognize that they are inherently good people with caring involved parents. Yes they will make mistakes, but ultimately, they will learn from those errors in judgement in the long run.

ERRRRR – Wrong! They are too young, too naive, and way too accessible.

Well I guess could banish the phones forever, turn the game console power cords into wreaths that I could then be sold on Etsy, and smash the laptops thus firmly committing the family to smoke signals and paper. That feels closer to right but still no dice.

The honest truth is that I don’t have a solid answer. The approach that feels like the best option for our family in this moment is to learn from other parents who have been there done that and research alternate security apps. We are also setting heavier restrictions in the device security options, tossing the crapplications, paying for a service through our cell provider that will send us detailed phone and web activity, and setting router limits that will throttle their internet and game time whenever we become too distracted or exhausted to notice that it is needed.

We can’t afford to become complacent nor can we ever turn a blind eye to the need to protect our darlings from the very real dangers who are actively trying to find them. If you think I’m being dramatic, take a glance at the lovely emails that were sent straight to your spam folder. Now imagine that they are being sent to directly to your child instead and that your kid decides to read and respond to them. Are you okay with that? Are you comfortable with those people speaking with your children, knowing where they live, and establishing a friendly relationship with them? If you are, not only are we on different pages, but I’m pretty sure that we aren’t even in the same book.

We must continue to educate our children and keep this conversation active with them. They need to hear the words, and their vocal cords could probably use the practice in return. Stay involved, keep your eyes open, and stop calling it Fork Knife (unless I am within earshot because I can always use a good laugh).

Best wishes to you always – Jo

Rapid

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