Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Meet the Morgans

Couldn't fix the eye problem.  FOILED again by my inability to comprehend technology.
 Who cares, right?  You get the idea.  

OK, I have these friends who are all sisters and everytime I am with them I wish that I had a camera crew because they would make an AWESOME reality show.  In my mind, I keep drawing paralells between them and the Kardashians because they have a younger brother, Will, and they are all bat shit crazy in one way or another.  Not the "crazy-eyed crazy, you see from time to time outside your child's room after parent-teacher conferences", that's more like "needs to be medicated" crazy or "overmedicated crazy" - no, the Morgan sisters (that is what I will call them because that is their maiden name) are "uninhibited crazy" and "crazy witty crazy" and let me tell you they are a BALL to go out with, as long as you bring a backbone, that is.

So the other night, as is a tradition I have with these hookers, we all went to the Rowe fashion show.  I usually am pretty confident when I dress myself, but when you go out with the Morgan sisters, you had better bring your A game.  Well, I got busy doing other stuff (read: Pinterest) and I started running late, and then I told myself I didn't care and my hair was wet when they came to get me and I put on this (what I thought) was this really cute slate grey dress I got from Anthropologie that was short sleeved and all tight in the bodice with a long flowing ankle length skirt with pockets.  Simple, understated, elegant - can't go wrong, right.  Well, just WAIT.

So, let's back up.  I've been rude.  Let me introduce my characters.  Megan, is my neighbor, and is the oldest, and is the first Morgan that I met.  But, if you meet one Morgan, you are going to meet ALL of the Morgans and their friends because THAT is how they roll.  Megan is one of my dearest friends and is the subject of the blog, The Guilt Free Generation (http://gratuitousguidance.blogspot.com/2011/04/guilt-free-generation.html) that I wrote a few years ago.  Megan is irreverant and hysterical and empathetic and FIT and I am bonded to her forever, whether she likes it or not.  In terms of Fashion, she brings it whether she is mowing her lawn (I soooo wish I had a picture of her that day she mowed her lawn in her husband, Mike's basketball shorts and high tops) or if she is going out to get her DRANK on.  I have NEVER seen the girl without a face full of makeup.  Truth.  We've even been camping and to the lake together.   It is an anomaly, fo'sho'.

This is Meg and I trying to do a Miley Cyrus selfie.  It didn't work out.

See what I mean about her hair and make-up.  Flawless.

Oaaakkkaaaay.  I'll put you out of your misery.  I know how vain you are.  This is Megan.

The next player is Brooke.  She is gorgeous and skinny and dresses amazing and is RAUNCHY.  I. LOVE. HER.  I mean, she is a person who WEARS her clothes, they NEVER wear her, which is NOT a statement I can echo about myself.
Didn't take me long to find this one.  Nice hair color, too, ya' douche.

She got me my ill-fated job at Vutech and Ruff, as she is an agent there, and she would make me look forward to the Monday morning meetings because she always speaks her mind and I just LOOOVVVEE when people squirm in their chairs in an office setting, especially if I am invited to the squirm session.

Brooke works at Rowe, too,  and is best friends with the owner, Maren, and she will look you up and down as she asses your outfit and your make up and your hair and tell you what is wrong with it, and what is right , and you revel in the compliments and contemplate botox, and examine your pores in the florescent glare of your make up mirror that night, when you are off the mark.  I am making her sound like a bitch, but she's not.  She's just trying to HELP you and she will TOTALLY hook you up with a stay-at-home retired dermatologist who gives injections in her home for a discount, or come over with a box of highlights THAT NIGHT to touch up your roots and edit your closet.  All bullshitting aside,  she's a ROCK and we have a TON in common, believe it or not.  You can tell her ANYTHING and I HAVE, and she's given me some of the best advice I have ever gotten.  Fact.

Kim and Brooke, my ROCK.  Thanks for the booties.  My arch is now gone.

Finally, there is Sarah, aka "Saucy", as she is known in certain circles - the youngest of the Morgan girls. She is absolutely single and has more confidence in her little pinky than I have in my entire body. Sarah is an absolute PRESENCE.  Brad met her before I did, one night after some sports game, where the Morgan sisters dragged him out to a bar where Saucy was holding court.  OK, that last sentence seems totally implausible, so let me announce RIGHT NOW that I am ALWAYS game for three beautiful younger women to take my man out late night, so is he, so HAVE AT IT.

ANNNYYYWWWAAAY, Brad wakes up the next morning and he is going ON and ON about Sarah, Megan's youngest sister, and what a pistol she is.

"I mean, it was like something out of a mooooovie," he was saying AGAIN.  "She was standing at the bar, and all I saw was this Yankees cap that she had on backwards at first, and she turned around as Megan introduced her and she was about to do one of a line of shots that were in front of her, and she starts handing them out to us (he was with his DD and friend Joe) and Joe was all 'Uh, no thanks, I'm driving his sorry ass' and then she was all 'C'mon, ya' pussy' and then I was all 'Um, he's in AA' and then she was all 'Sucks for YOU, then' and grabs his shot from him and shoots that one, too.  I mean, SHE IS AWESOME."

O.K. I am not gonna lie.  Up until this point,  I had a "half listening" marital cap of my OWN on, but after that story I was DEFINITELY intrigued.  And jealous, to boot.  Not that she was going to steal Brad away from me, or even that he got to do shots, but that he met her FIRST.

Folks, meet Saucy.  Saucy, meet my blog followers.  You are welcome, EVERYBODY.

Words do not do her justice.  Just the best gurrrl EVER.

So, I get into the car after I have mouthed "Two minutes" to Sarah as I display my two fingers in a "V" and I am standing in the doorway of the garage with the garage door open wearing my robe with a towel on my head, and Saucy, who is idling in my driveway mouths back through her windshield, "No, ONE minute"and she raises her middle finger to illustrate the ONE.

Oh, and the reason Sarah even DROVE for the night is  in the group text below.  Enjoy:

Brooke:  "Sarah, you can pick Moogie (Meg) up at 6ish, then Johnna, then me.  If Kim (our other friend at V & R - equally awesome AND impossibly stylish) is ready, we can get her last?  How does that sound for everyone?

OK.  I'm not gonna lie.  I totally didn't want to drive, but I had already offered so I say...

Me: "That's fine with me, but I feel bad that Sarah is driving."

Passive-aggresive, I know, but don't act like YOU'VE never danced this dance, or you're a LIAR.

Brooke:  You can drive?  I have baby seats so I can't.  And I am super sad about it.  LOL.

OK.  It's starting to get REAL, y'all.

Me: "Listen, I wasn't OFFERING.  I just feel bad.  Don't worry.  I'll be fine."

Passive-aggressively, I continue in another text.

Me:  Teasing.  I am a slave to the Morgan girls  I'll do whatever you guys want.

Sarah Morgan:  "Sounds Good."

What?  WHAT sounds good?  Am I driving or am I NOT driving.  This is why I was really late.  Too busy texting and being passive aggressive, instead of showering.

Sarah:  Johnna, don't feel bad for me driving.  I feel bad for all you moms out there that can't average three nights of boozing.  This is my good deed for the day.

Me: "Is that a challenge.  Ooooooh!  I am so gonna throw up in your car tonight!"

So you don't have to scroll up.  IT'S FROM ANTHROPOLOGIE, DAMMIT.
And the pockets.  Did I mention the pockets?

So, I get into the car and Sarah says, "I like your onesie."

"It's ANTHROPOLOGIE!" I retort.

"I'm just sayin'," she says emphatically with her hands in the air.   "I decided to go CAZZZZSSSHH."

We all nod in approval.

She's wearing a shirt and jeans and looks amazing and all the sudden I feel like a dick.

"Leave her alone," Megan jumps in from the front seat, "you look fine."  Megan looks like a super model.  I couldn't even BEGIN to know how she did her makeup.  She's all urban and has cool layered jewelry....I could go on forever, here.

I look down at my adult onesie dress that hits my ankles and explain, "It has POCKETS.  At least I'm comfortable."

Well, the Morgan sisters are about to change THAT.

Next scene, Brooke is approaching the car after ten minutes of waiting.  SHE is representin' with a blue sequin jacket, faded and ripped boyfriend jeans, and she is carrying two purses and two pairs of shoes.

"Oh, here we go," Megan says, "It's all about HER."

"Which shoes do you like better? The booties or the heels?"

Brooke does a series of various looks in the driveway as we all get out and give our two cents and then she says, "I just feel like if I wear these then they should be rounded," when she is wearing the heels.

"What's supposed to be rounded?" I innocently ask.

"The TOE, dumbass," and Brook slides in, takes one look at my shoes and says, "Are you REALLY gonna wear those Jesus sandals?"

"They are Charles David!" I whine.  "I got them in Chicago!"

"Like, what, twenty years ago?" Brooke asks.

"No, longer ago than that," Sarah chimes in, "because Jesus was alive, so it must have been during the period when he lived in Chicago and they made shoes in his shoes' likeness."

Ok, the BACK story about the Jesus sandals is that I actually bought them with my friend, Alissa, in Chicago on our annual Mother's Day trip and I came home with only one of them in my suitcase (which is TOTALLY plausible for one of these trips), so I found them on Ebay and bought them AGAIN, and Alissa bought a version of the same thing, and I now I am fairly sure that I am going to start my next bonfire with them.
I totally threw away the third one because I didn't want to make the inevitable
mistake one day of wearing two left shoes. Practical, no?

"Do you like my jacket?"  Brooke asks us all, once we get rollin'.  You know, cause it's time to BOUNCE.

Brooke continues, "I was gonna wear my leather shorts, but Maren said that EVERYONE is going to wear their leather shorts and she insisted that I wear the jacket."

"Oh, yea.  I was TOTALLY gonna wear my leather shorts instead of my onesie dress and my Jesus sandals, and I even had them ON, but then I put them back for that very same reason."I responded as I rolled my eyes.  "Because, you know, EVERYONE has a pair of leather shorts in their closet."

The rest of the car jumped on Brooke like a bunch of hippies at a nitrus stand and I smiled to myself because I now know what it is like to have sisters.

You see, I am constantly mezmerized by them because I have three girls and I have always wanted a sister, so being around them is a constistent source of amusement to me, in terms of what my future holds, and also what it is like to be in their presence.

I have always felt more comfortable being made fun of, because you know you BELONG.  I have no idea what that says about me as a person, but I have NEVER felt more relaxed around a group of women than I am when I am with the Morgan girls, and that is my TRUTH, whatever that implies.

OK. back to my story.  So we go to the Megan, Brooke and Sarah's parents' home in our neighborhood because their parents are out of town, and because it is the EPICENTER of the family's life, whether their parents are home or not.  We then promptly open up a bottle of The Prisoner (my favorite wine in the world) and pour it into red solo cups.  But, not before Brooke AERATES it, as it is poured in.

The Prisoner +
The Sharper Image Wine Aerator  =

A perfect blend of sophistication and travel.  Point.  Blank. Period.

Above is a reinactment of that scene.  It is also an excuse for me to buy myself a bottle of The Prisoner, which I totally intend to drink a glass of once a finish this seemingly neverending blog, and then i will give the REST of it to the Morgans to make up for the wine that I stole and aerated into a red solo cup because technically I only had one glass and also because I am classy like that.  Word.

"Here.  You are wearing my booties," Brooke announces as we toast each other with our aerated solo cup lovin' Prisoner.

They are impossibly high and I can barely walk, and I am more physically uncomfortable than I was on my wedding day, hands down.

Just imagine these as booties an I have a red solo cup in my hand, oh and I am wearing an adult onesie maxidress.

"You look awesome."  They all say simultaneously as I strut around their parents' living room looking like some sort of cartoon Natasha, who's gait is distinguishable by a torso that lags behind her incredibly long spidery legs.  All that is missing is a cigarrete holder, and I AM ELATED.

Well, we go to the show and it is a blast and the liquor is free and I am inundated with gossip at every turn and we are shopping and drinking and eating hor deourves and at that moment there is no girlier place on the planet and I am truly, deeply happy.  Then, as we are all congregating in the front row that we so lovingly staked out early in the night, I spill my water all over me as I sit down, of course, because if I didn't do something stupid like that when people are watching me,  the Earth would stop spinning on its axis, and I spend the entire show with my lap drenched as my soaked to the skin onesie dress puddles around my bootie heels.  Classic.

At the end of the evening, Saucy is driving us home and she is explaining to us something called "Bacon Night" at this local pub, Byrne's, that she is planning on heading to after she drops our "lame asses" off.

To bring you up to date, a recurring theme of the night is that Kim has to service the account when she gets home (see: http://gratuitousguidance.blogspot.com/2011/03/servicing-account.html for an explanation) which we are all familiar with, except Sarah, and is yet another reason why we disgust her. You see, Kim sold her proverbial soul to her husband to get yet ANOTHER night on the town.

After Sarah exclaims, "BYE, ONSIE!!!" to the amusement of her loaded car full of equally loaded Moms, THIS is the last group text of the night:

Sarah:  "Good night, Moms."

Me:  "I love you.  Thanks for driving my ancient ass."

Megan: "I am jealous.  That bacon looks amazaballs."

Sarah:  "Going.  Going. Gone."

Brooke:  "I was already asleep.  Sarah, so happy to wake to you enjoying your bacon and we all know that Kim had some sausage.  XO.  Peace out.

I imagine all of us, all awash in the glow of our IPhones, illuminating our skincare and eye balm, laughing hysterically that can only be the magical result of a mixture of technology, red wine and a running inside joke on a perfect evening among other women.

"Meet the Morgans. Midwest's answer to Keeping Up with the Kardashians," I think, again, as I smile at the picture of bacon in a jar.

My advice to you, today, is two fold.  If you have sisters, embrace them...HARD.  And if you don't, adopt some, like I have.  Only, fuck off if you have your sights on the Morgan girls, cause I have FIRST DIBS!

Also, go to Rowe if you live in Columbus, or at least visit their website for inspiration. (www.roweboutique.com)  I am positively OBSESSED with their Smythe blazers and jackets.  The plaid boucle one below is very Chanel-like, and on my unattainable fashion wish list.
Seriously?  So cool, and sooo not in my tax bracket.

Kim said that I had good taste when we turned the tag over to reveal the whopping $795 price tag, but my Dad would just site this as another example of my "champagne taste on a beer budget".

Make that "champagne taste on an aerated Prisoner in a solo cup budget", beaaccchhees, cause I'm lookin' down at the World from my sky high booties from now on!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Transitioning and the Power of Female Comraderie

Too inappropriate NOT to use.

In the past two years, I have experienced what my Mom would describe as "a lot of life."

In a nutshell,  and in accordance with the timeline, my husband lost his job, I began working again after ten years of staying at home with my three daughters (I've already quit, natch.), my Mom died, my husband purchased a company (read: works/lives out of town most of the week) and my Dad is now engaged.  Exhale.

The week that my Mom was dying, I was extremely raw, as you could imagine. I mean,  I would literally tell anyone ANYTHING that I was thinking if they would ask me.

Believe it or not, I can be very guarded at times, and I had become even more so when all of this shit started to hit the fan. I like to control my own PR with this blog, resplendent with its exaggerations and half truths.

I wish that I could be more eloquent, but the only way to describe what it is like to watch your Mom die is that you live in a vacuum. Then, you go through the funeral and the rest of it, and you are spit back into your life and expected to act accordingly.

It is the most bizarre existence I have ever known. For the first few weeks you literally walk through your life, without experiencing any of it. I guess that is known as shock. I could not tell you one conversation I had with the exception of the one I had at my unsuspecting neighbor's house on July 4th.  The party was the morning after the parade, following a four day power outage that was a result of this insane storm that occurred the night I got home from my Mom's funeral.

Soooo, I struck up a conversation with a girl from the party, and this sweet, unsuspecting guest at my neighbor's house asks me what I have been up to. She had CLEARLY unknowingly brought a knife to a gun fight.

Thaaat's riiiiggghhht.

I tell her. "Well, my Mom just died and I just got back from Louisville, where the funeral was, you know, where I am FROM, and then the power went out so I have been staying with friends of ours, and I am just now back home....and well, herrreee I am."  You're Welcome.

The air was thick as molasses and somehow I managed to add conversational flour.


Well, she didn't skip a beat, this young friend of mine (she is probably 10 or so years younger, with kids much smaller than mine) and she elbows her impossibly beautiful younger sister sitting between us, who is knee deep in a conversation of her own, and blurts, "Oh my Gawd, I am soooo sorry. Our mother died four years ago and we are STILL not over it, are we?"

Her angelic sister chimes in, rapid fire, "I moved into her basement, and she was married with these two tiny babies, and I was single, and I went to work everyday, came home, went into the basement and didn't come out again for four months!"

They are both stunning, in every sense of the word. They were empathetic and real and insightful. It was an unexpected connection with two complete strangers. These two girls saved my life that day.  In addition, to explaining to me that "there is your life before you lose a parent, and then your life after,"they inspired me to "look for signs."

"Because they are REAL," the younger one said. as she nodded in unison with her sister.

I told them about the bumble bee that kept bumping into my window at work, head first, over and over before the storm hit the night I arrived back in Columbus.  My office was on the second floor.  It was so bizarre.  I hadn't told ANYONE about that.

I told them I thought it was a sign from my Mom because she was obsessed with all creatures, big and small, and she had been a nervous Nellie. who was one to call me up because she saw on the news that we were about to "get some Weather".

Their heads started bobbing again.  "Uh-huh. Absolutely," they agreed, in tandem.  "That was a SIGN. Pay attention to them.  We still get them today.  They are REAL."

So, one night last year, the television in the basement erupted about two decibels above a shell exploding next to my bed, and it was blasting an Amber Alert through the vents from two floors down, at exactly 11:11p.m, and woke me out of a deep sleep.

I raced downstairs and was enveloped in a bellowing male voice describing two missing children and their clothing and their last known whereabouts.  I turned off the sound and noticed the television was black.

Immediately, I went to check on my three children. I found my last child, Eva, in tears that she could not explain to me. She could not stop crying.  I brought her into bed with me.

I had been thinking about my Mom alot that day - wondering if she was doing okay, and lamenting about feeling alone in my grief - even conversing with her outloud at some points, because the house was uncharacteristically vacant, except for me, and I found myself alone with my thoughts, which had not happened in a long time.

The following morning, my Dad informed me that he had sold my childhood home. I didn't even know it was on the market.

But, I also discovered this essay contest on Facebook about "Women and Transitioning" and entered this story in it.  I had already written part of this blog, entitled at the time, Disconnection and Regeneration, but I could not bring myself to write anymore, so I saw this are her "urging me from the grave to follow my dreams and return to what makes me happy." I mean, it was all SO PERFECT!

Apparently it was the house, though, because my entry has since been rejected. I like to imagine the reviewers sitting around an oval table after reading my essay, and one guy sighs as he presses his fingertips together in a prism, and he says, "Ohhhh, I don't know, it's just not SAD enough.  I mean, if she would have put more EMOTION into it.  I don't know.  I just wish there were like,  a MESSAGE."

Although, my Mom COULD have been setting me up, which is entirely possible.  LOL.

You see, watching a parent die, to me, is the equivalent of being in a car accident and suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In a serious automobile incident, just before the moment of impact, your brain and nervous system literally shut down because it is too traumatic for your body to process.  This is why many people experience memory up to a crash, but no memory of the actual collision.

At first, after you watch someone that you love, slowly being drained of life, you have constant unexpected imposing memories, or flashbacks, of the entire experience, and the simultaneous impact of their immediate absence. If you are lucky enough to plan their funeral, and deliver their eulogy, that is just bonus material for your subconscious. To me, that has been the hardest part of losing my Mother - when memories and antecdotes literally grab me around the throat, when I least expect it.

There, of course, is a silver lining to losing a loved one.  You regenerate. Again, "There is your life BEFORE you lose and parent, and then your life after."  No truer thing has been said to me since. The important thing is to embrace your perspective, because you will never be this raw again, and so you have to incorporate that into your new personality, because as Socrates said, "The unexamined life is not worth living".

It sounds sad, so I want to make sure you do not misunderstand.  I am not some shell of a person, I am just changed.  When my Mom died and my husband lost his job, a piece of me was torn away, but the beautiful thing is, that there is this appendage in it's place.

I am a little wiser, a little sadder, a little softer, a little harder...but, mostly I am someone who sees a bigger picture, rather that individually connected moments, and you gain the most important thing you have to show for your emotional bruises  - experience.  You could say that my eyes are more open, but mostly, it is my Soul that has changed the most.

You see, those beautiful, kind, empathetic girls that impossibly hot July 4th day, could have made an excuse to get up and get themselves another Bloody Mary or tend to their children, when I burst into their lives, with my swoolen eyes and accompanying dark cloud - but they sat with me, and they comforted me and they shared their stories as if we had known each other since childhood.  They did that because they had been changed, too, and they had come out the other side of the worm hole that is grief.  They reassured me that I would be whole, again, one day, but that I would grow back together with a new and improved part that was cultivated by an empathy and understanding that I had never before known.

As I tell my three girls when they are going through some tween angst, or they fall off their bicycle, or get fourth place at a gymnastics meet because they forgot to take out their earrings, "Well, now you have the experience of what THAT feels like, so in the future you will be wiser for it.  Unfortunately, it is the experiences in life that are HARD that shape you.  I wish that everything in life could be easy for you, but then you would not posses CHARACTER, which is the best part of a person who has gone through something negative and then overcome it."
Whaaatttt?  Bitch be CRAY!

They, then, always look at me like I am crazy (especially when they are just trying to ride their bike and I go all Billy Graham on their ass), as I would look at my Mom when she would try to impart some hard learned lesson to me.

Just use it in my eulogy, I think to myself. Believe me, it is the annoying things that you will miss the most, because they are the most REAL.

What I have come to believe is that, unfortunately, the only way to truly transition in life is to embrace that transition - accept it, internalize it, and then share it with others, because everyone and everything transitions or it dies.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Nature, Nurture & Instagram Accounts

Lake photo- before the account abduction.

I've been taking a good hard look at my kids lately, and I have been weighing the arguments for the social science argument between Nature vs. Nurture.  For those of you not familiar, NATURE is what your children, and you, and EVERYONE inherently get from their forebearers and NURTURE is the type of environment the child grows up in.  I tend to believe that dispositions are predisposed, but critical thinking is entirely environmental.  The "guidance" part of parenting also has EVERYTHING to do with the way YOU were raised, whether you embrace your past or reject it.  But, now what do you do when you are faced with raising a child who is growing up in ENTIRELY different social circumstances than you did?

These are the Dance moms and their kids.  They are RIDIC!
I believe genetics plays a huge role in who our children are, but that what we teach them about how to deal with certain life situations is the REAL enchilada.  My problem, as a parent, is that my children seem to learn through MODELING, rather than the weekly lectures I bestow upon them while we watch Dance Moms.  Don't worry it's never about those bitches' behavior, it is mostly about their ridiculous clubbing outfits they wear to the studio when they are just sitting there watching their kids and complaining.  I usually say something along the lines of "Now, girls, NO ONE puts their phone on speaker as they answer it.  That is scripted."  or "When you are 45-years-old or older, cut outs along the midriff look stupid, especially when you are sitting down and all your loose skin hangs out the openings, and then she is just EXACERBATING the issue by snacking on beef jerky.  Y'all Feullin' me?"

Beyonce's Instagram.  I also follow Harry Styles.  He has artistic photos.
I'm no Cougarphile.  He wears skinny jeans for Pete's sake.

For instance, all my children are excellent twerkers.  Just kidding.  Well, not really.  To be honest, none of us are very good at it.  In the privacy of your own home, who cares what you do during family pajama parties, right?  It's all well and good until your six-year-old mimicks your 11-year-old, who is mimicking Beyonce - who is spokeswoman for the wholesome Pepsi.  For the record, I think twerking was invented by my dog, Scarlett, who likes to do it on top of Mills' stuffed animals.  Who would have EVER thought that Scarlett's gyrations would define an entire generation?

Respect.  Mills asked me where she learned to twerk and I said Miley Cyrus.
 Moomoopotamus watches entirely too much late night T.V

I mean, with three girls and "viral technology," how in the hell are you supposed to keep your children innocent, while still remaining AWARE.  It is a fine line.

For instance, my daughter Hallie had this Dance Moms Instagram account that was totally innocuous,  in which they would switch audio on the video parts of the dance competitions and they had like over 500 followers and they were PSYCHED.

Well, we were at the lake and some girl "KIK"ed Hallie (a frightening form of texting that is instantaneous and "goes away after a few seconds) and asked her to exchange account passwords so they could combine their accounts and long story short, Hallie and her friend's Dance Mom Instagram account, was stolen.
Look it up, if you aren't already familiar.  There is also a video version of this where teenagers are videoing themselves without clothing and thinking that it just "goes away".  Nothing "goes away".  Just ask Vanessa Williams.


Look, you can say what you want about yourself and your superior parenting skills, but it is only a matter of time before a version of this happens to you and your kid.  That is why I am telling this story.  Not so you can judge me and form opinions about what I did or did not do right or wrong, but so you can learn from this, and have the AWARENESS I mentioned earlier.  Once again, I am a martyr - sacrificing myself and my reputation as a Mother for the sake of others.  You're welcome, America!

I have WARNED and WARNED and WARNED my kids NOT TO EVER talk or "kik" or freakin' email or whatever WITH ANYONE THEY DO NOT KNOW.

I have explained to them ALL that just because you have a photo in the corner of an account with an adorable spaniel puppy or little girl with pig tails, it is more often than not, some gross perspiring middle aged man in boxer shorts, wearing a body hair v neck sweater, hunched over his first generation Apple computer luring you in with promises of fame and understanding and whatever else his sick mind can create.

So, I was obvioulsy flabbergasted when she ran downstairs and told me that she had gotten her Instagram account stolen because she traded passwords with a stranger who did not keep their promise and then promptly changed the password and account name and then blocked Hallie because she was in competition with Hallie's Instagram.

I mean, WHAT THE FUCK? My biggest problem when I was 11, was when my bell bottom cords got stuck in the spokes of my bike wheels.

I tend to be nostalgic about my 70's upbringing with it's faux wood paneled station wagons sans seat belts and Falls City Beer ring tab necklaces, but at that moment, I actually had a flutter of sadness that formed in my heart that was a seed of realization that I am bringing up children in a "Technological Age" where they are far more savvy than I'll ever be.  My children are more proficient than I am, at something that we have not completely realized the social ramifications of, yet.

It is something that I, and every generation or parent before me, has zero experience with, and therefore, I have zero guidance from anyone, other than my gut and my deductive reasoning skills.  My children and I are the prototype for all future generations in terms of raising children with texting, Instagram Accounts, Facebook, and everything else that some 18-year-old douche bag in Product Development (or in his basement for that matter) can imagine.

It is daunting at the very least, and depressing at the very best.

Now, I have always EMBRACED technology, and I am all about MOVING FORWARD, but it is very difficult to do that when your children are more savvy than you are about a huge part of their adolescent social life.  I keep trying to come up with an example of generations before me that have had such a jump in advancement in such a short time that impacted the way society interacted, and I just CAN'T.  Honestly, the only thing that comes close maybe is the Vietnam War, just in terms of generations divided and young people being drafted into a situation that was entirely different than they anticipated.  I'm pretty sure I just insulted a SLEW of Vietnam vets, as they are a large demographic slice of my blog audience, but I am just comparing the generational gaps and cultural phenomenons of the two, not jungle warfare and government-issued LSD experimentation.  Ya' dig?

True. I do not have to worry about Mills dying of a dirivitive of the HPV virus because of recent advancements, but I DO have to worry about the emotional and psychological impact that Instagram has on my child when they are not invited to a sleepover and they are continually exposed to a succession of Instagram photos of said sleepover until they finally cry themselves to sleep.

So what is the solution here? Avoid technology?  Refuse to let them engage in social media?  Fat chance.  I don't know about you all, but whenever I have a child over for a playdate who has restricted television priveledges, they are glued to my looping Disney Channel like a crack ho' with a brand new glass pipe.

That's EXACTLY the way your children look at my house
as they scarf down illegal ho ho's and watch Good Luck Charlie reruns.

My point is that the only way to truly manage what is going on with the new social media revolution is to police it.  There simply IS no other way.  If you take it away, there will be a black market for it, and then you have no control or information at all.  (READ: Prohibition and Arrested Development reruns.)

It is the equivalent of scrubbing your face in front of your Mom every morning before school and then lugging a purse full of make up to your middle school bathroom.  As a parent, you are either part of the conversation or you aren't.  Fact.

Here is what I did.  Hallie found her account that was hacked and I wrote a comment on the girls' account for all of her (or rather, Hallie's) followers to see.  It read as follows:

"This is Hallie's mom.  I know you hacked her account and took her password.  I am going to contact Instagram and shut down EVERY SINGLE ONE of your accounts (the bitch, or hairy middle aged man, had like 7) if you do not contact Hallie and give her the new password to access her account. You have 20 minutes.  GO."

The GIRL immediately KIK'ed Hallie saying that she had no idea what I was talking about.  I replied back, "This is her Mother.Time is running out."

The GIRL kik'ed again asking WHICH account Hallie's was.

I replied, "How many accounts have you hacked?"

The GIRL then gave Hallie the new password.

I contacted Instagram and reported the whole thing anyway.  That is where it stands right now.

Hallie now has her phone restricted at bedtime and EVERYTHING is an open for me to look at.  The whole episode scared the shit out of everyone in our family.

So you know, I hatched this whole plan after a sleepless night of gut wrenching parental soul searching.

No one ever tells you how hard it is going to be when you decide to have that third glass of wine in your twenties and you and your husband decide to just "roll the dice".  Parenting is rewarding and explorative and a box full of chocolates and all that other bullshit, but mostly parenting is MENTALLY EXHAUSTING if you have even an OUNCE of self-consciousness, because the beauty of it all, is that you can ALWAYS blame yourself.

That is my advice to you today.  Not to NOT have that third glass of wine.  That would be ridiculous.  And hippocritical.  My advice today is to find your new normal, in terms of raising your children in the Age of Social Media.  People our age can totally reject it because they are old, and that is what old people do (Andrew), but if you have a child, you cannot ignore it, because it is like a Tsunami.  You either take a deep breath and bear hug the trunk of a palm tree or you will end up doing underwater sommersaults into the depths of the ocean.

We cannot afford to be out of touch, y'all.  Our children's futures are counting on it.