Sunday, December 30, 2007

Resolution Solutions

New Year’s Resolutions are pretty much made to broken. There are good intentions behind them – or at least behind some of them – and the naming of such behavior-changing objectives at the start of a new year is a good lesson for both parent and child; it’s the follow-through in which the true lesson lies.

For my eldest child and son, Blake, I resolve to: Breathe and wait patiently – or as patiently as I can muster – when weeks go by without an email. I resolve to stop bugging him every other email about purchasing a cell phone that works internationally, so that he can call me from his base in far-off Okinawa. I additionally resolve to cease inquiring as to whether or not a marriage is in his future, either short- or long-term. Experiencing grandchildren before I am too much older and grayer and less spry would be really nice, but I will zip my lip in 2008 (can’t promise the same for 2009 however).

For my 22-year-old son Kenny, I resolve to: Keep remembering that he is just 22 and not necessarily ready to settle down with a “real” job. Any job is preferable right now, but I resolve to gently remind him of that fact, not get right in his face. The urge to lay a gigantic motherly guilt trip on his young self is strong to tremendous, yet I will endeavor to position such a trip in a more tactful, less obvious (but hopefully quite effective) manner. I additionally resolve to resist contacting him the nano-second something goes awry with my computer or I-Touch or other such similar electronic, technological device.

For my daughter, Janet, I resolve to: be less judgmental of certain actions and fashions. I may not agree with the why’s, but I will try and let her be her, whatever the metamorphosis entails this freshman year. I will also be extra careful about using words and phrases more appropriate for a teen than a middle-aged mother of four. Slang like “whatevs,” “kickin’ ,” “word up” and “hooking up.” To me, “hooking up” means meeting with someone, but apparently in teen-dom it means something altogether less innocent.

For youngest son and child, Jack, a sixth grader, I resolve to: stop asking him if he has a girlfriend, quit reminding him to do his homework while he is in the midst of doing it (only to me it doesn’t look as if he is since the television is on), and bring an end to playfully requesting he score a dozen points for me in his basketball games. I didn’t realize he took that silly suggestion to heart and the pressure was a pain, to say the least. Of course I hope he resolves to lighten up and recognize a joke when he hears one!

Kids should make resolutions too, even if they last but a day or a week or a month or two. Everyone has area for improvement, even those who are still in the process of growing, maturing and finding their way in the world.

“Stick to your guns,” “Follow through on your responsibilities,” “Finish what your started,” aren’t simply annoying parental axioms. They are time-honored and often-tested truths that we can all benefit from on the journey to becoming better, more service-oriented, more self-esteemed human beings. Actually, not just humans being, but humans doing.

In terms of much uttered wise suggestions, though, lies the ever-popular, “Do as I say, not as I do.” If you’re gonna state a resolution, model to your kids that you can actually execute it.

I resolve to resolve that oft-unresolved suggestion. How about you?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

InTEXTicated Kids

Tweens and teens texting all over town on their cell phones gives new meaning to the phrase, “Thumbs up!”

How do they do it? And how do they do it with such lightening fast speed? Why do they do it instead of just calling? (Probably the same reason most of us resort to email instead of picking up the old-fashioned telephone: it saves time). Somehow in this still-new millennium the written word speaks faster then, well, the spoken word.

Walking down Elm, sitting outside of Starbucks, pulling up in front of New Canaan High or Saxe or the Outback and you will find child upon child with heads bent down towards their cellular devices thumbs working feverishly. They even drive while texting! That seems to be taking things way too far.

Goodness! It was hard enough for me as a teen to learn to type with my fingers let alone use my thumbs to send a message on a keyboard as small as a cell phone’s. I am a total dork trying to use my thumb to scroll down my contacts with my right thumb, and trying to read the tiny type with my feeble eyes, and then correctly hit send with my left thumb to actually speak. I often mean to call Jon, my husband, but end up hitting “Jen,” my friend, instead. Ditto “Hoelzer” instead of “home.” It’s a malfunction of eyes and digits!

But the kids – yikes! Maybe it’s those early years of video game controllers and all of that thumb muscle toning that’s built their dexterity and swiftness. Tap-tap-tap-tap-TAP! Some message or other goes hurtling through the networks of Verizon, Sprint, Cingular and T-Mobile, et al and just as quickly a response is announced with a tune or a tone.

“Why don’t you just call him?” I ask Janet or Jack incredulously. And this generation’s “intelligent” answer is always, “Because!”

There is even a service/web site thing called “Twitter,” in which you can text dozens of your friends at any given moment: “At the beach” or “Sitting outside of Dunkin’ Donuts” or “Going hiking in Jackson.” My 22-year-old son Kenny does this. I don’t get it; who cares? Do all of your friends really need to know what you are doing at that exact moment?

The texts I receive from my daughter can be occasionally annoying and suspect. Suspect because if I get one during the school day I can picture her plain as day thumbing away beneath a desk during Mr. Dockum’s science class. Annoying because the text may read, “I have a free in half an hour. Wanna bring me a *$ ?” (That’s shorthand for “Starbucks.”) The time I received that particular ditty I texted back: “How ‘bout No!”

It is impressive and intimidating and fascinating watching these thumb typing bandits as they walk, talk, sip beverages, chew gum, snack, shop and/or watch t.v. or school sporting events. It’s simply intoxicating for them.

And we’re left scratching our heads with our fingers, opposable thumbs clumsy and slow and uncool.