Parenting, Politics & Perpetual Texting

by: dear occupant

Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 17:33:36 PM EST


I woke up from my weekday post-work, cozy on the couch nap around 11pm, dozing off during one of the MSNBC shows and shuffled on down the hallway, to check in on my daughter.

Little O is 12 and she was hosting a school friend on a Friday night sleepover. I peeked in to find them laying on the foldout futon with their backs facing the door, shoulder to shoulder, an earbud in one ear, legs splayed and toes wiggling, their heads bobbing to a personal beat as they each watched a youtube music video on their separate smartphones.  

It was a picture worthy moment, the two of them, friends since second grade but now in different schools quietly enjoying themselves. The soft uplighting was perfect but flashing a pic, well, that just seemed invasive. So I resisted the temptation to reach for my camera and let the moment pass into memory. There was a time and it wasn't all that long ago when and without any hesitation, daddy would have snapped that pic but my daughter is twelve now...... twelve going on eighteen?

Yeah, things are changing and they're changing rather quickly.

Proceeding to the end of the hallway, I found Ms. O at her desk busy knitting away, as one eye kept an eye on a Breaking Bad episode she was watching via NetFlix on her MacBook. Glancing up, she grinned as I told her about the girls and she raised her eyebrows in that, 'Yup, yup, I know' expression she flashes me sometimes, when she's kinda' busy. I have one of those looks too. After 10 years of marriage most of us do, I hope.

Turning but still in the doorway, I stood there for a moment, murmuring,

'We've become them?'

dear occupant :: Parenting, Politics & Perpetual Texting

I'm not a big fan of commercials. I'll be very blunt, I despise them. All of them. Shiny happy people dancing around holding yogurt containers, the squawking insurance duck and earnest spokesfolk for energy monopolies get an immediate MUTE from me, followed by a detour to Bikini Bottom until Rachel returns.

Spongebob and Patrick are silly but at least they're honest.

SpongeBob Squarepants is always good for a giggle and a flood of good memories too. It was Little O's favorite and lucky for me it supplanted Dora the Explorer. Always up for quality cartoon time, we would both slouch on the livingroom couches when she was younger and laugh ourselves silly. This room that doubles as my writing space and her bedroom when she visits, was totally decorated with SpongeBob paraphenalia. I still remember the day we both went to Target and filled the red cart with bedding,
a lamp and at the time, a huge stuffed SpongeBob.

For many years, it was her huggy I handed her as I tucked her in, that and the click, click, click, click of my keyboard, helped her fall asleep. She has a noise machine now. Stored away in boxes are all the neon yellow, SpongeBob items and this room is now being redone. Gone is the private loft and ladder I built for her, after removing the folding doors of an extra large closet. She's grown so tall, so fast that she no longer fit underneath.

We still catch a few episodes of SpongeBob together and she still squeals with delight.

But this is the same twelve year old who, this past summer, lay belly down on that same futon editing a neatly stacked, clasped, inch thick manuscript of a book written by a classmate. Spending the better part of her weekend, she dutifully wrote detailed notes on the reverse side of almost every page. As a fellow writer, I was intrigued and a little curious about the novel and was told it was autobiographical, but not much else. I sensed she was being protective, so I praised her generosity and went back to my own writing, shaking my head trying to absorb it all.

And that's a thing about parenting; it's the click, click, click, click of the everyday, when you think maybe you just might have it figured out and then...whoosh!, it's readjustment time again.

Sometimes it's hard to keep up.

Not keeping up with technology is a pursuit I've been somewhat actively involved in. Sure, I own a computer, a reconditioned Samsung Netbook, snagged at halfprice online attached to a large Visio flatscreen monitor, also reconditioned and until six months ago, a not very complicated phone. I write, peruse the web and store pics. I don't game, Facebook, Tweet or belong to any social networks, so my tech needs are very basic and I've liked it that way. I realize I might be an anomaly but I'm more than OK with that too, it wears well or at least it did.

I worry about our adherance to technology, worry about what changes are taking place in our relationships, our interactions and in our society in general.

I see it on the sidewalks in Chicago, the hordes of commuters doing the Smartphone Shuffle, headphones on, head down, texting or listening to tunes. They bump into others and just like a pinball, bounce off and continue walking without acknowledging the interaction. People in cars are texting and for some reason get annoyed and out comes the finger, when you remind them that the light has turned green. I've seen folks walk head down into an intersection and a cyclist texting with both hands, while riding in traffic.

Yeah, I realize these might be anomalies too but maybe it's a symptom of something bigger, all of us retreating into a personal smart device cacoon and the slow, incremental technology creep infiltrating almost every facet of our lives. And despite my anxiety and my efforts to keep it all at arms length, it's happened to me and my family too. The 'We've Become Them', technology creep began last year in three, unrelated and random events.

Ms. O and I are movie buffs and the last and best video rental store in our neighborhood finally had to shutter its doors, the result Netflix. Little O won an IPad in a school raffle and now to sync up, an upgrade to an IPHONE for Christmas. The company I work for went 100% digital and all our communication, updates and work orders etc., are now directed through our smartphones. Result, Little O helped me pick out a Samsung Galaxy Note, with a stylus that can be used on the keyboard to text, instead of my uncooperative thumbs.

So waking up that night, leaving my own TV and now smartphone accompanied cacoon, finding Little O with her friend in theirs and my wife in hers was, a tad.... unsettling.

It reminded me instantly of another recent commercial I dislike.
A 'typical two kid mom and dad family', all frowned and frustrated because there isn't enough couch space for the four of them to watch a movie together, a compromise choice they all dislike, so no one's happy. They upgrade to a 4g service that allows them to record and view, four separate shows in four separate rooms. Suddenly, shiny, happy faces break out simultaneously in all four rooms and life is so much better.


See, the thing is, I'll still take that detour to Bikini Bottom and continue to despise commercials. But slowly, imperceptably, there's no denying that 'We've Become Them.'

We didn't plan to but here we are and I still worry about the effect of so much tech in our lives. But I've also, slowly, come to enjoy my smartphone and it's 4g features. Will I now become a Smartphone Shuffler, text in my car or while I'm riding my bike. No but I think NEW RULES need to be adopted so that we don't fall into the 'tech cacoon in separate room family', all the time.

Me and Little O, who has now become a perpetual texter, have a new texting relationship we didn't have before. She doesn't enjoy talking on the phone and neither do I, if I can help it. We make all our plans now without her mom as a middleman and I'm proud of her. It's a big step for a 12 year old.

Oh and then there's that cool app from her school that alerts her mom and me, if she's no longer getting straight A's and is in danger of sliding off the deans list!
I got a text from her a while back, asking me to sign and pass along the petition to protest the awful 'Kill the Gays' law in Uganda. I clicked it, passed it on and thanked her for caring about such an important issue.

Click, click, click, click......whoosh!  

That's a thing about parenting; sometimes you have to keep up.

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hey look...words. :-o (2.00 / 20)
thanks for reading Mooz. seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.

Don't go setting our expectations too high... (2.00 / 12)
That first diary was hard enough to get through! ;~)

I have always embraced teh tech enthusiastically. While friends far to my right and left crow that they don't have TVs at home (and home school, inevitably) because of the Evils of modern life (commercialism/secularism) we have wired our children's bedrooms from the day they could hold a mouse.

Our son is an avid gamer, born in 1995, who has a collection of Gamecubes and other old platforms. We got him a high-end game PC (that he speced himself) last Christmas and his primary gifts this year were to make it better (new headset, RAM, 1TB drive,...). Since we have moved throughout his life - and since "online gaming" has changed into more of a medium for communication than individual games - this has allowed him to maintain a group of friends regardless of our physicality. Last Friday he had dinner with a friend and his family who had traveled to see Grandparents here in Knoxville, after knowing the friend for years.

My own social circle is similar, a combination of people who I met in the physical world and those I met online in one medium or another (email, concalls, forums like this, ...). The line between online friend and "real" friend is so blurred for me that I often can't recall which people I have met in the flesh without thinking about it.

I fervently believe that all of this electronic cloud around us is not only a net benefit but so much so as to shatter the concept of what our lives could hold for us. Before the telephone - my grandparents' time - it was impossible to ever speak with someone more than ten feet away. Truly hard to imagine, in the literal sense of the phrase, the limitations that would place on us today.

My great-grandparents had never seen a giraffe, a volcano erupting, the faces and voices of people 500 miles away much less on the other side of the world. The information available to them dripped down tubes months or years long, the diameter of coffee-straws. Their ability to understand their world was so incredibly limited as to be in the full definition of "beyond our capacity to comprehend".

And we wonder why regionalism/racism was so common from then back to the dawn of time? People they had not met existed in a conceptual realm moreso than today the dark side of the moon does to us.

The downsides of the various evolutionary states of this communications mesh are, to me, mere growing pains. Needing new shoes every year is a problem that pales against the joy of seeing a child grow and realize their potential. Fast-forwarding over commercials in DVRed shows or seeing an ad on the side of the screen no more than minor nuisances that, almost literally, I do not even notice.

No, bring the First World Problems of companies underwriting my infrastructure by making me see their products over the dark and lonely age of global ignorance. The advantages of being able to connect with the thoughts of others, with the images and information of the world around us, so far outweigh the uneven pavement of the Information Superhighway that they barely bear mentioning in the same conversation.

Give me - and my family, my children, the children living in darkness in Yemen and North Korea... - communication and information, or give me death.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
Spouse & I don't have TV (2.00 / 4)
but that's largely because there's no shows worth watching (in our opinions) that don't turn up on Netflix at some point.  On the other hand, we have tech out the wazoo.  Part of that is for his job - systems administrator; he's constantly accessing work machines remotely and configuring stuff or compiling things or updating things, etc.  Neither of us do social network stuff; I have a few message boards/forums I participate on, and do email (and yes, texting); likewise for him.  Single player video games only.  

[ Parent ]
Yeah, TV is almost dead. (2.00 / 4)
We have Direct TV now, being beyond the reach of cable. I give traditional two years until it is on nothing but life support and watched primarily by older folks without computers.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
Heh. That would be my parents (2.00 / 3)
Although they either have direct tv or satellite rather than cable.  They might have picked up a net connection if one was offered by anybody other than comcast, but out in the boonies where they are it's comcast or nothing, and they choose nothing.  Can't say I blame them, really.  :-)

[ Parent ]
well, i agree about traditional 'TV'. (2.00 / 3)
i haven't watched a single show for who knows how many  years now.

we have DISH with hundreds of channels but my viewing is primarily the MSNBC lineup and HBO, SHOWTIME. there are shows on Sunday night, that i still regard as appointment worth. Dexter, Homeland, Game of Thrones, Boardwalk all are broadcast on Sunday and then repeated, so i can catch them all.

unfortunately, i got hooked early, so waiting for NetFlix...sorry, just can't wait. seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.

[ Parent ]
We watched (2.00 / 3)
Fish Called Wanda last night on NF.

You can also find Cleese's Clockwise there, which is perhaps his greatest movie.

The Man From Earth is one of my favorite NF finds.

The Intertoobs take TV to 11. When I first got 'Netted the future of media (in large sweeps) flashed in front of my eyes. Being able to see whatever you want, whenever(!!1!1!). Just in entertainment it both opens us up to experience infinitely more than TV or theaters, and frees us from being slaves to programmer's schedules ("I have to wait for the commercial!!").

I lost Music for a few decades until it came online, now I have it again. Other than news, TV has been dead to me almost forever. Old movies are now a staple I love (I might watch new ones if Hollywood would remove head from butt).

But traditional TV is for me already dead and I only open the coffin to watch "cable news" for a few minutes while I have a snack, and since I am sitting there DVR a few things (antiques roadshow) that I could probably get online, anyway.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
I podcast Rachel's show (2.00 / 2)
and watch them the next day on my iPod.  The Daily Show posts their full episodes online, so I can view those when I want (I usually save them up for Friday).  That's pretty much the only 'current' TV I keep up with.  Netflix we primarily use for movies, but we are (very) slowly working our way through Warehouse 13.  We're somewhere in the middle of Season 1.  And Mythbusters we watch too, although the episodes on Netflix are all out of order, I think.  

[ Parent ]
Daily Show and Colbert have it right (2.00 / 1)
Hollywood is so bass-ackwards that no less than Scientific American ran an article a few months ago about it.

The old model of monetizing video content is gone, pretending otherwise is obtuse.

Before I dreamt up a firewall and got into security I thought about the music industry. Got all excited, ran into my boss' office (a former and once-again music producer) and told him we should make products for the music industry. Who else in '91 had electronic content ready to monetize online?

"No way. I know these folks, I was one, they will have their thumbs in their butts ten years from now."

And, of course, they did.

Hollywood is still there, and TV is still largely there as well.

My commentary at that time is still my view. If you cannot find a way to monetize something that millions of people like it is your fault, not theirs.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
And this, (2.00 / 12)
That's a thing about parenting; sometimes you have to keep up.

Is so true.

Donna and I have worried - as much as it is our business to do so - about the children of friends who cut them out of the communications world their peers are growing up in. Whether us old codgers like it or not (get off my lawn!) our children will live their entire lives in an increasingly connected environment, and it will not surprise me to see as the decades unfold a gap between those who had grown with this environment and those who did not.

That gap is concerning when we look at children the same age here and in Yemen, for example, where until the Arab Spring there was virtually no Internet service (1.8%). A 17-year-old boy in a village outside Sana'a has nothing like the exposure to the world as Damien, and is entering adulthood where catching up to his international peers gets harder with each passing year. Compounding the poverty he is undoubtedly experiencing is a wall that keeps him from taking advantage of the opportunity to have a career where he is involved with people around the world, further increasing the odds that his life will follow an all too well known path.

In Sana'a in November I gave a lecture to almost 500 students at Sana'a University in Yemen. These students are privileged among their peers in-country to be able to go to college at all. They toppled their dictator from that very campus and crowded in to hear how they could find a path that held more than the cloistered corruption their parents' nation offered them. They are not asking that we keep up with them, they are demanding it.

As parents we need to keep up with the world our children live in. As adults we bear the same responsibility for all children, keeping up with the world they live in so we can provide guidance to their futures, rather than our pasts.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

It occurs to me (2.00 / 4)
that the internet and assorted technology is making the younger generation much more world-conscious than previous ones.  For instance, when I was growing up (which was in the 80's), the world for me was pretty much 2 counties in South Jersey where my parents and grandparents lived (with occasional vacations beyond).  24/7 cable news channels didn't exist.  The internet wasn't widely accessible and didn't have the vast amounts of content on it.  I think a lot of kids' lives were school, related activities, etc., and you only heard in an offhand way about stuff like the Berlin Wall coming down, and it wasn't really meaningful.  The world was very insular.

Now, there are programs in classrooms where a class can video chat with another class on the other side of the world.  YouTube, Skype, and other networking sites means that not only can they know kids or people in other countries and have dialogue with them, but they can participate remotely in events.  I think this makes the younger generation much more aware of the world at large, and that's a good thing.  

[ Parent ]
It really is amazing. (2.00 / 4)
The downsides so pale against the upsides I don't know where to start. The democratization, liberation, education and enabling of hundreds of millions of children is going to continue to make the future unknowable.

I hope I don't kick off too early, I want to see what these amazing kids do over the years.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
chris, i wholehartedly agree with you. (2.00 / 2)
'The downsides so pale against the upsides I don't know where to start. The democratization, liberation, education and enabling of hundreds of millions of children is going to continue to make the future unknowable'

on a macro scale there's no doubt about this and i applaud your efforts to make that happen for those children.

but in the micro, in my little family where access is a given, encouraged and has been for years, there's the parental caution seeping to the surface with everyday stuff.

is it ok for little o to have her head down, texting while crossing the street? is it ok for her to reply constantly to incoming texts while we're having a meal, or doing family time activities. is it ok for nannyboyz 92 year old grandma to be shut out from communicating with her family because she's not familiar or not comfortable with communicating via text? is there a downside, eventually to all of us, all the time ensconsed in our cacoon at home? these and other everyday issues are what i'm beginning to question.

i am profoundly aware of the upside. that my 12 year old can send me a petition about a piece of horrible legislation in UGANDA, is proof of the incredible potential for social activism and education.

but i'm also actively part of her network too and i think that makes a big difference in her world, as it does in mine. as i said upthread?, i'm someone who often sees both sides of an issue, i prefer to be proactive when i can.

just some thoughts from 'the cautious parent' in me. :-) seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.

[ Parent ]
Without active parenting there isn't much that is not harmful. (0.00 / 0)
We may as well talk Caramels, as Will Hunting suggests.

Little O is our Roxanne's age: a time for very active parenting (which is ofted about actively resisting action, but that is parenting, too).

Whether which of those is cause for intervention (other than crossing the road) is a parental decision with no arbitrarily right answer. Not being able to have an opinion because the parent isn't paying attention is the only true fail.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
This is so good dear occupant! I wish I were a writer but am not. I (2.00 / 12)
do, however, have thoughts and feelings.  

I loathe texting.  Why?  Because my step kids use this as their go to mode of communication.  No phone calls, not even email anymore... no, we text or we perish.  I find it cold.

My Mom will soon turn 92 and is the last of the real letter writers, snail mail if you will.  It's a lost art I must confess I haven't partaken in for years.  Yet folks love Mom's letters as do I and we live 5 minutes from each other. It's special because of the thought and effort it takes.

Our kids and grand kids text, IF THEY HAVE TIME.  That's sad.

Not saying anything negative about your post, which I love, but about our communication, or lack of, any more.  Mom is the last of a WWII generation and much more.  And the last real communicator, IMO.

"Pin your money to your girdle and don't talk to strangers."  My Grandmom's advice when I went away to school.  I don't wear a girdle and have never met a stranger.  Sorry Grandmom!

There are lost arts, true, but new ones as well. (2.00 / 11)
Some of those arts never existed for long, so our nostalgia for them is often somewhat misplaced.

Your mom and my step-dad are the same age. He and Mom send over 2,000 Christmas letters every year, and while there is a common part to all of them each is also written to the person (boggles).

My grandmother would be over a hundred now, she was quite the letter writer.

But in their time they were the exceptions more than the rule. Most people have never been such great corresponders, and going back each generation further, fewer and fewer people had the literacy to communicate beyond speech at all.

Our 12-year old daughter won't answer her phone, but she texts like a mad hatter. She has dragged Donna and I into the medium, and through her I have gotten a window into how kids are using it.

Rather than being cold, it opens an additional channel to communicate more, trading jokes and observations frequently where a long telephone conversation would be unpractical.

All of my childhood I communicated with my grandparents on rare long-distance calls (keep it short, that's expensive!) and even more rare letters. I wish my grandmother had been around during cell phones, so I could josh with her in texts and pop pics of me and my children to her.

Be happy you have so much chance to communicate with your kids and grand kids at all. I would trade a lot to have had that opportunity to share slices of my life with Gramma.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
Well Mr. Chris Blask I thank you for drawing out truth. Although (2.00 / 12)
a part of me wants to smack you upside your head.  But truth is truth.  Our extended family, steps and all, suffer from just that.  Years of mis and or bad communication, judgements, hurt fee fees, as you call them here.  I feel jealous sometimes when I read posts like yours and dear occupant's for their seeming normalcy.  

I won't degenerate into self pity, our family is what it is.  I miss talking.  I find myself curious as to why do's post prompted me to respond as I did, but I did.  That's for me to glean.  But I bet I will feel a bit safe to investigate that here.  I hope.  Maybe.  Among you guys.

Thank you dear occupant and Chris Blask.  Sincerely.


"Pin your money to your girdle and don't talk to strangers."  My Grandmom's advice when I went away to school.  I don't wear a girdle and have never met a stranger.  Sorry Grandmom!

[ Parent ]
Thank you. (2.00 / 11)
You just made my day.


John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
I was gonna say "well crap" but just can't be dishonest with (2.00 / 10)
you.  I'm 61 and well used to the elbow gouging at the orange diasphora.  I didn't start out as an elbow flinger, I learned it in life and online.  Honestly, I don't like it.  Not my thing but I've become adept.  Ya know what I want?  To be unadept.  Peace.  The family?  That's for another day, year, whatever.

You're a gifted man Mr. Blask.  Thank you.  You're likely of an age to be a son.  Hope springs.  It's good work you do here son.  I hope you take no offense at that, it's meant so very warmly.


"Pin your money to your girdle and don't talk to strangers."  My Grandmom's advice when I went away to school.  I don't wear a girdle and have never met a stranger.  Sorry Grandmom!

[ Parent ]
You'd have to have been a young mama to me mine (14 ;~). (2.00 / 9)
I cannot ask for more than what you have said. I'll try to live up to it, and hope my failures will not dissuade you entirely.



John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
Well Chris how about we forge ahead and discover together? No (2.00 / 9)
matter who is this old nor who that.  I meant to put a question mark there, didn't and don't feel like redoing.

Now, from what I've read, no disappointment will be forthcoming but you can bet your butt, if I feel it I'll let you know.  You'll do the same for me please?

I think you can help me learn... thinking outside the box, writing, expressing, and I do have a mouth on me, just not always articulate.  Dang it, I'm not a writer!  But you are.  So, how about this?  You help me learn to write and express myself.  Well, that won't work, I got nuttin' to offer you.

I'm 61' a retired surgical nurse, worked in the OR for 32 years.  I became a nurse manager for an ambulatory center and went on to become Director of Surgical Services for an internationally renowned infertility practice.  I'm quick on my feet still and remain fleet of mind.  Passionate about politics and people.  Well, blah blah blah.

You touched me, I wanted you to know.


"Pin your money to your girdle and don't talk to strangers."  My Grandmom's advice when I went away to school.  I don't wear a girdle and have never met a stranger.  Sorry Grandmom!

[ Parent ]
nannyboyz, i understand believe me i do. (2.00 / 9)
and maybe answering both your comments here, i don't think you have anything to apologize for. and yes, i feel very comfortable exploring whatever feelings you or i have HERE, imho. this post was started 2 weeks ago THERE and i just couldn't post it.

as a writer, i'm really encouraged to see little o follow in my creative footsteps. she is actually improving as a writer as she becomes more adept at all the other forms she communicates with. maybe that's just the educational arc she's on, i don't know.

our personal communication, our banter has actually increased because of texting, we talk about it all the time, she shows me the Pinterest images she sends out, she teaches me how she is communicating, she likes that i take an avid interst and we're sharing something we wouldn't normally be sharing. all good things, in my world.

more experienced parents tell me there will come a day that maybe we won't have that much to share. maybe, it's not always what we can communicate but how we communicate.

just some random thoughts on my end. from a writer that couldn't fully express myself adequately in a tweet or a text.

i'm old skool but i can learn. seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.

[ Parent ]
Thank you for your response! I'm thinking of how I (2.00 / 7)
teased you about links, which I did with a warm heart.  I got such a chuckle, so glad you were brave enough to test the waters here before me.

You're a wonderful parent and I'm hopelessly out of date and honestly resistant about the latest modes of communication.  And, as I explained to Chris our family has "issues".  I placed those in my comment to you because I'm so envious of your communication with littleO.  Do you understand?  I reckon you do.

Thank you for responding... I so look forward to what you write and share.


"Pin your money to your girdle and don't talk to strangers."  My Grandmom's advice when I went away to school.  I don't wear a girdle and have never met a stranger.  Sorry Grandmom!

[ Parent ]
well, i'm not sure there is a family without issues, NB. (2.00 / 7)
we have ours too, heck she's a child of a divorce.

i'm not up to snuff on the latest/greatest new toy either, that's why i brought her with me to teh tech store. the phone i got has a stylus, it feels to this old skooler, just like holding a pen or pencil as i tap the keyboard. it was the phone she chose and it took all of 2 minutes for me to realize that she was right.

and here we are, talking and i'll call it talking, all the time. more than we did when we both just had phones. the perpetual texting is only a recent thing for her and as she's using it more, so am i with her. seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.

[ Parent ]
Thanks for talking me through your process. Yes we all have issues. (2.00 / 6)
Our kids, really my husband's, are also from a divorced family.  They are now 45 and 43.  I just like how you deal with things.  Thank you.  And, you write beautifully!

"Pin your money to your girdle and don't talk to strangers."  My Grandmom's advice when I went away to school.  I don't wear a girdle and have never met a stranger.  Sorry Grandmom!

[ Parent ]
thank you NB, i rally like your style too. (2.00 / 7) seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.

[ Parent ]
*really* sp., sorry (2.00 / 7) seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.

[ Parent ]
hey chris. i might be a little slow in responding, (2.00 / 11)
i have an awful headache right now.

That's a thing about parenting; sometimes you have to keep up.

we have always taken little o's lead with whatever she expressed an interest in, knowing full well that us 'old codgers' needed to be as supportive as possible. the environment i grew up in is light years away from the exposure she has, with the diversity she's experienced in such a short time and i'm profoundly happy she has the opportunity to learn so much, so quickly.

as a person who so often can see 2 sides of an issue, this piece was a slightly tongue in cheek attempt to have a conversation with other parents and non parents alike, about how they deal with this issue in their families. if they have some of the concerns i do.

i'm a cautious person by nature and right now, my everyday concerns have more to do with safety and manners. we were crossing a very busy street the other day and i reached for her hand and it wasn't there, she was texting. :-(

i applaud your efforts to bring your expertise and enthusiasm of teh tech to the children of Yemen. your pics put a bit of a lump in my throat.
good on you. seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.

I understand. (2.00 / 9)
I'm the opposite of cautions by nature (foolish? rampant? ;~)  It's just who I am, but I make an interesting experiment of it.

As someone who focuses on security (as much as I focus on anything [ADHD Poster Child]) both in the electronic and physical world it provides a platform to test common concerns.

With my gun-toting friends I can relate plenty of experiences in situations they fear in which I have found no practical use for firearms whatsoever (quite the contrary, I'd be dead many times over if I had been armed). In this electronic world I have used myself (and my children, the poor little beasties ;~) as tests to disprove the fears that have arisen in their time.

During the mid to late 90s, when the Intertoobs were spreading, I watched with interest the public conversation on kids and computers: "Never let your child have a computer in their room, always monitor their use...". We did the exact opposite of all of that, relying on traditional parenting instead, and so far they haven't been swept off the planet by child molesters or ruined by Teh Pronz.

Risk management in the physical or virtual worlds is not much different than blog moderation. In fact, to me, they all have the same basis:

- Don't be an idiot, don't assume most other people are either.

- Be reasonable, but not so unstructured that you become a doormat.

- Don't be bound by tradition, and don't throw it away out of hand.

My biggest - overriding, all-encompassing, #1 - concern about the world today is the common perception of risk around every corner. The common belief that the only thing keeping others from taking advantage of you is some chain that binds them. My risk-blind life has shown me the opposite, despite evidence to support the theory. Sometimes people behave poorly, true, but by far most of the time most of them do not.

Our biggest risk is not an environmental collapse, exploitation by corporate overlords or Evil Liberal Conspiracies, guns in the hands of our neighbors or the gummit coming to take them away. Our biggest risk is our own fear, and the braking-effect it has on our ability to address the real challenges we face.

Great conversation, interesting article (ok, 'diary' ;~), glad as hell to share thoughts with you.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
'glad as hell to share thoughts with you', ditto that brother. (2.00 / 8)
i'm a cautious 'father or parent', in my other life, trained as a painter, open always to anything new, interesting, odd, dangerous, beautiful, i was and still am a risk taker. i believe i have to take risks as an artist, to continue to break down the walls of cynicism, of complacency.

i'm not afraid of teh tech as much as i, personally, don't want to spend all my waking hours staring into the interweb. and this is not a judgement on those who do, not by any stretch.

if i was younger, that would be me and it still might be?

but i was trained to see, to always look, to notice details, shades, and nuances. my head is full of images from decades of being an observer. those images inform my writing and i'm thankful i have them. i'm as thankful little o has images of the world we live in from being connected, those images inform who she is, as well.

it's just different, is all. seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.

[ Parent ]
This is such (2.00 / 7)
a wonderful diary, thank you.

I have some thoughts on this too, given I have two kids - ages 12 and 17, but I'm too lazy to put them all down right now. Having said that, I would say that I largely agree with you, even though I am constantly falling into the trap myself.

well, thank you taylorrmattd (2.00 / 7)
and i should really be asleep right now, so we're even. :-)

maybe you can revisit, i would really like to get your perspective as a parent of another 12 year old. seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.

[ Parent ]

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