Posts Tagged ‘technology’


How to be in an Audience

February 11, 2012

Us parents of teens have a lot to keep track of.  We are done with potty training and lessons on sharing, and hopefully the kids know how to pick up after themselves and to brush their own teeth.  But now we need to be ever aware, looking for openings to talk about sex and drugs, making sure our kids aren’t showing signs of depression or bullying or other increasingly common teen maladies. We need to balance how we ride them about studies v. how much we want them to grow up to be balanced people.

And, I am sorry, but in light of technological advances, we also need to teach our teens how to put their fucking cell phone down.

Jesus H. Christ.

I went to a play last night at the high school. Lemon went, too, but she went with a friend and was sitting several rows in front of us.  We didn’t have a kid in the play, although several kids we’ve known since they were wee and others we know more recently were in the show, and we were excited to see them.  We were also excited to just sit back and enjoy the production, because the school is known for putting on a good show.

We aren’t too picky about our seats, but we do know that when going to a high school show, it’s best not to sit in the back because that’s where groups of teens sit together and pretty much do NOT watch the show.  So we found a seat in the middle of the auditorium, and were mostly surrounded by adults.  Including the director of the show, who was directly in front of us.

Just before the show started, two little chippy girls climbed over the back of the seats next to us and plopped themselves down.  Of course, we would have let them in, had they asked, but I guess climbing was fun. They chittered and chattered, and the one right next to me kicked me a couple of times.  She also yelled ‘STEEEEEEEVVVVVEEEEEEE!!!” to a boy (I’m guessing he was named Steve) across the aisle from us.  This happened very close to my ear.  I gave her a dirty look, but she was too busy grinning at Steve to notice.

I feel I need to say – I’m not a curmudgeon.  I’m not too old to understand the pull of technology.  While we waited for the lights to go down, I was playing Temple Run on my iPhone and texting with Mouse. But when the lights went down and they (one of my favorite 10th graders, actually) told us to turn our cell phones off – and explained that cell phone use and texting is distracting for others in the audience – I turned my cell phone off and put it away.  Imagine?

The 16yo next to me did not turn her phone off.  She dimmed the screen.  And proceeded to text throughout the entire show.  I think she was texting STEEEEEEVEEEEEEEEE because she would often crane her neck to look across the aisle and laugh in reaction to her latest text.

She took some breaks from texting.  In order to talk to the friend she was sitting next to.  Not whisper, but TALK.  And laugh.  The director of the show turned around 3 times to shush them. They didn’t notice, though – because they were laughing and talking too loud.

I kept thinking about saying something. Alongside my fantasies of “dude, you have been talking and texting through the entire show, why don’t you just leave?” was the fantasy of my daughters’ faces contorting in horror. But there came a point somewhere around the midpoint of the show when the chick switched from text to Facebook on her phone that my tongue was no longer controlled by my thoughts of devastated daughters:

“When they said that using your cell phone during the show was distracting to the people around you – they weren’t kidding.  It’s not a matter of ‘getting caught,’ it’s a matter of being respectful to the people around you.”

And the look of devastation ended up a reality. The girl looked at me in complete surprise and simultaneous horror, and shrunk in her seat.

But after that, she didn’t text once. She fondled her phone a good bit, but didn’t activate it.  She did still talk to her friend, but only in whispers (certainly about me).

I wish I said something sooner, because it was only after I did say something that I could enjoy the show.

I spoke to my girls afterward.  Lemon assured me she would NEVER use her phone in a show, and I believe her.

A few weeks ago, Lemon and I went to NYC to see How to Succeed in Business on Broadway.  It was her birthday gift (back in September).  We had to go in January, though, because that’s when Darren Criss was performing. She was horrified at the behavior of some of her contemporaries. She was upset with people for talking, for yelling out during the show, for breaking the rules and taking photos, for texting, and for leaving early so they could rush the stage door.

And Mouse is perfectly capable of leaving her cell phone behind when she’s going to a movie or a show (sometimes it infuriates me, because I can’t reach her if I’m not with her).

But I certainly took this opportunity to reinforce to them that it is RUDE. That when they are at a show, they are not the only people in the audience.  If they don’t want to focus on the show, then they shouldn’t be there.

I guess, really, this has nothing to do with technology or cell phones, but just simple respect and appropriate behavior. The girl proved with her laughing and talking as if she were in the cafeteria at lunch time that it didn’t require a cell phone for her to be disrespectful and rude.

Hopefully my comment to her will save future audience members from having to endure this almost-woman’s wretched behavior.


Canada will certainly be the death of me …

August 2, 2011

The child has been there for considerably less than 24 hours.  And my recent check of our AT&T account on line shows that we’ve pretty much burned through the text messages that the extra $10/mo have afforded us.

Now we’re working on the $0.40/each texts.  I haven’t even told her yet.

I could tell her.  I could say “okay, enough with the texting.”

But I’m not going to.  I will, instead, work to put several sentences into each text, instead of my usual phrase-per-text.

I did tell the Ex not to text her, though.  I told him he has to call her. That’s only $0.19/minute.

Today, according to my golden texts, she bought measuring cups, pancake mix, syrup, rice krispies, and cheese.  She came in 5th in her heat for the first race, meaning that boat will not advance. The loss was not so upsetting, because there are 5 other boats that she’s coxing, and she’s having a great time.  She races again tomorrow.  She went shopping alone, because the rest of her roomies went while she was on the water. She was pretty stressed that using the ATM in Canada would cause the bank to freeze it, so she begged that I call the bank and let them know where she is.

Knowing all of that is well worth $3.20.



Lazy Sunday

April 17, 2011

Well, sort of lazy. First part of the day included a 5 am wake up time in order to get the girls to the airport for their 7 am flight. I had a small almost-scuffle with the counter lady, when she told me that I could not have a gate pass. I always get a gate pass. Sometimes, they limit us to one (poor WD), but usually, we get two. So I calmly asked to speak to a supervisor. While waiting, different ticket agent told me ( authoritatively) that the only way to get a gate pass is to call the reservation line and change the reservation. I said, “are you the supervisor?” and he said “No, but I know the rules.” I calmly let him know I would continue to wait for the supervisor. (WD chuckled and said quietly into my ear, “if you aren’t the supervisor then just butt out and shut the fuck up!” which perfectly expressed my insides, but the girls hate it when I get snippy, so I was keeping it in check) The supervisor came over, heard the agent’s story of my egregious attempt to get a gate pass, smiled at the girls. To Lemon: how old are you, sweetie? And Lemon says she’s 14. To Mouse: how about you? And again, with the honesty and the 12 years old (for another month). “Give mom a gate pass!” she tells the agent with obvious incredulity that she even had to say it. The agent fights! Explains that it’s against the rules. “No, it’s not. Give mom a gate pass!” Agent tries yet again to prevent the evil of my going through security with my daughters: “They are 16 and 14. They don’t need it.” I interject/reiterate. “They’re 14 and 12.” Supervisor repeats “Give mom a gate pass” Nasty ticket agent says “they were born in 1996 and 1998.” Which is true. Of course, supervisor prevailed, but it would have been kinda funny if we were denied because of the ticket agent’s inability to do math.

Funny in a non-funny “Mouse is hyperventilating” kind of way. (I have no doubt Lemon would be fine.)

guess we are on notice, though, that once Lemon is 16 (in approximately 18 months), they’ll be going it even more alone. Like I told them this morning, “We’ll just drop you curb side with a ‘get outta the cah!'”

Ha ha. Funny mommy.

When they were officially “unaccompanied minors” (before Lemon was 14), we were required to wait at the gate until the plane took off. We don’t have to any more, but definitely want to be there if the plane is turned around or delayed at the gate to the point of taking the girls off. But WD was outside the security area, so I left the gate, and we sat at a food court with breakfast wraps looking out the window at their plane until it was in the sky.

Then home. And sleep! Much-needed sleep. After several days of late bed-times and super-early wake up times (thanks to soccer, doctor appointments, court appearances, etc.), I was exhausted.

I have some of my favorite people coming over in a bit to play Mah Jongg with me. I must pry myself from my new blogging app on my iPad, the one that lets me do this:

with the swipe of a finger, and go buy my friends and I some nibbles & prosecco for our afternoon of chit chat and game-playing.

What do you think of my first iPad post? Hmm?

** Updated to add – bummer that the app does not trigger my WordPress automatic twitter notification when I publish a post, and the app doesn’t have the ability to do so itself, either.  Most of the comments about the app address this point, so I trust they’ll fix it soon.

(photo: Bar Harbor, Maine, Labor Day, 2009)


This Rain is Killing Me, & Thoughts on Kids & Computers

April 13, 2011

It is very, very wet outside today.

It’s 2:20 p.m., and I should be at the gym.  I was going to go to the gym today, but instead, my eyes don’t want to stay open, and my head feels like it weighs 1000 pounds.  And those 1,000 pounds want to CLUNK onto my desk, and to give my eyes permission to close.

Somewhere inside of me, I know that the gym will likely wake me up.  Give me a zing of energy.

But in a more accessible place is the knowledge that a warm cup of coffee will do the same.

And I am – therefore – choosing to be lazy.

Maybe I’ll try the coffee, and go to the gym at 3, instead of at 2?


Last night, some friends and I got together to go to a talk that was advertised as what parents need to know about kids’ involvement on Facebook.

Mouse just signed up for Facebook.  Yes, it’s a couple of weeks before she turns 13, and I let her sign up anyway.  There was a critical mass of her classmates joining, and this is almost the exact time that her sister joined, at the end of 7th grade.

We created her page together, I set up her privacy (“friends only” – “friends only” – “friends only”) and we talked a bit about what a “friend” is on Facebook, and I set certain standards.  “But Mom, what if it’s someone who went to my school, but then they moved away?”  “You can be friends with them, but not their friends at their new school.”  “What about someone who doesn’t go to my school, but I know them from sports?”  Same answer.  We also set a technology curfew – which her sister has had in place since the summer, at least, but we hadn’t needed to set for her.  But Facebook, ahhh Facebook – the world’s largest time suck.  Curfews and time limits become necessary.

Mouse was funny:  “I never knew what people did on Facebook, so I’m glad I joined.  But I still don’t really know what people do.  There’s nothing to do …. except stalk people.”  Her sister laughed.  “Oh, Mouse, there’s plenty to do.”

But Mouse seems underwhelmed.

Since she signed up, however, some of the other kids in her class have found themselves some trouble.  Like the one who signed up with an alias.  “Why’d she use that name?”  Mouse just looked at me with a purposefully blank look. “Is she not allowed to use her real name?”  Blank look.  “ohhhh, she’s not supposed to be on Facebook.”  Blank look broke:  “I didn’t say that, I didn’t say anything.  Please don’t say anything!”  I went on to say “She’s being really dumb.  She’s gonna get caught.”  To which Mouse responded, “but it won’t have anything to do with ME when she gets caught, RIGHT mom?”

One of Lemon’s friends did the same in 7th grade, before she was allowed on Facebook.  She got caught.  She was then grounded for 2 months.  Oof!

I didn’t tell, but I sent the girl a message through Mouse:  Parents are monitoring – someone will eventually tell your parents.  Delete the account.

It was deleted within 12 hours.  (I was not making a threat.  It was sharing a reality.  I knew at least one other mom would be telling. I’d held her off temporarily, but she’s isn’t one to be silenced for too long.)

Then came the story of the fake account, set up in one child’s name by an (as of yet unknown) other child.  Bad things were said.

So this little meeting seemed like it would be helpful.  We should know how what our kids are up to, and how to protect them.

What I would have wanted from the meeting:

  • To be told about ways to ensure my child didn’t have their name used for a “fake account,”
  • Tips for how to monitor my children’s internet usage — places they can post things that parents forget to look?
  • More tips for those parents who are less savvy than myself.  Hey, this is your child’s wall.  This is their list of friends.  Does your child *really* have 638 friends?  How many people have been to your house to visit your child?  Likely not 638.  These are the pictures that other people have posted of your child.  These are pages your child has joined.  See the comments your child has left on these pages?  And so on.
  • Some information on non-Facebook kid-popular sights.  Formspring?  Are they using Twitter?  What else is out there?  How can we stay current with that?
  • A tutorial on how gmail can be used; who can kids chat with?  How can they be sure that they are chatting with people who are who they say they are?

What we instead got at the talk:

See where I got those links?  NY Times.  Our local paper.  CNN.  Yahoo.

So they told us a bunch of what, really, we already know.

And there’s so much that so many people do not know.

It was frustrating.


I view myself as a savvy parent.  Not just with technology, but with teen behavior in general.  I was a sneaky, sneaky girl.  My parents were unreasonably strict, and I found ways around it.  I’d like to think that I’m reasonable, and so my kids don’t need to sneak around.  But I don’t “like to think” that so much to the point of being stupid, or blind.

The other day, I walked into Lemon’s room to check on her, and her progress on homework.  She had her computer open, and I peeked at the screen.  Her browser was open, with 2 active tabs:  Google docs and gmail.  (Her history teacher considers an assignment turned it at the date and time that it was “shared” on google docs.)

“See?  I’m doing my history, Mom!” (so much irritation in her voice – how dare I question her?)

So I reached over, put the little mouse on the “windows” tab, and clicked.  What was hiding behind that browser window that she willingly showed me?  She was in the middle of a Bones episode.  She’s not allowed to watch t.v. on her computer without permission, and she damn well knows that permission will not be granted if her homework isn’t done.

I’m sorry, mommy.  I won’t ever do it again.”

That’s what you said last time.  ONE MORE TIME, and the computer stays in the dining room.  You do your homework in the dining room, and you lose non-homework computer time.”

I understand.  I’m sorry.  I really won’t let it happen again.”


But mom … how did you even know to look??!!

Because, my dear.  Even though internet wasn’t a part of my life until after you were born, sneaking around behind my parents’ back was my specialty.

I started out sneaking Stephen King novels – I would open them inside of my text books, and when my mom poked her head in to see what I was doing, all she saw was the history textbook.  Maybe she paused to wonder what it was about world history that put that terrified look on my face (Salem’s Lot was so scary, I couldn’t sleep for a month), but if so, she didn’t think to ask about it.

Then I graduated to sneaking a spare telephone into my room, that I would plug into my wall after my parents went to bed.  I had been forbidden from talking on the phone after a certain time, and probably didn’t follow the rule, so they took my phone.  So I got a new one, and hid it.

Then the ultimate graduation – sneaking out my window and down the driveway into my boyfriend’s car (his mother worked nights) several times a week.  And it wasn’t so we could play cards.

I knew how to get around my parents.  And I know what to watch for; at least to some degree.

It’s not hard to apply that to my familiarity of modern technology.

My poor, poor kids.

(Of course, I can’t ignore the fact that my kids are smarter and savvier than me – I’m sure they can find new tricks up their sleeves …. damn you “incognito mode” on Google Chrome!)