Thursday, March 13, 2014

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Friday, October 2, 2009

Invading Their Space

Within minutes of walking through the door when Brittany comes home on a college break or for a weekend, her laptop gets turned on, set up and logged on to Facebook. I always ask her why she came home when all she did was “talk” to her friends back at school. (To her benefit she doesn’t say laundry.)

Facebook is a popular website, which until recently was only open to college students and alumni with a school email address, Brittany has 901 friends scattered all over the country. (I know this because every time we get together she shows them to me – after all they have put new pictures on and added funny new quotes since the last time she showed me!)

She told me once that it was hard to leave the site and said “I know what every one of my friends is doing this minute by their away messages!” The kids work hard at leaving interesting away messages!

My Space is probably the better-known site though. NPR reported on a program about that online communities are replacing malls where kids hang out. USA Today reported that My Space has become the dominant force in the social networking sphere. They have over 200 million members. In fact, one of the two founders, Tom, had 230,004,827 friends the last time I looked. (He comes with every person’s My Space page when they join). Do you suppose he makes his mom scroll through all his friends? His personal page has 793605 comments. Things like “You are my hero!”

I’ve seen all this because I joined too. Yep. Adults are members too. In fact it is well known that it’s a great place for people with online stores to advertise. (Which is why I’m there.) It takes awhile to figure it out. And there is a lot you just have to ignore. The site itself is kind of junky and at times incredibly slow, but you can post free classified ads, join groups (everything from fitness enthusiasts, vegetarians, sororities, fraternities, schools, “over 40s”, shopping addicts and a lot I wouldn’t want my mother to catch me looking at! (And I don’t!) You can also listen to new bands, download music, add music to your homepage, play games, rank friends from pictures they submit and blog.

Any adult who thinks there is something wrong with this hasn’t been on too many online forums. I read several different business related ones regularly and all of them have the ability for their members to join groups, private message other members, put people on their buddy list, add a picture and even a profile about themselves which include hobbies and interests. We seem to be a world of people looking for connection.

I wasn’t really thinking about Brittany when I was surfing around I was pretty sure she was a member, but knew she spent most of her time and energy on keeping Facebook up to date. But, one day I typed her name into the “search for friends” bar and there she was in her low cut red formal. I typed a message to her: “Hi, I’m here to promote my site – what are you promoting? Mom”

I’m not on the site very much at all and really haven’t done much to my page. The only reason I put my picture on it was because the default picture was one of those head silhouettes like the police shoot at for target practice. Brittany’s page (besides the picture in that dress) has music and pink and brown polka dots!

She doesn’t mind me being there. She even asked to be on my “friend” list. (one of my 8…the rest are some of her sorority sisters and of course Tom.) In fact she also asked that I send her messages through rather then her regular email. She says they are easier and faster to get and respond to.

She has changed her picture though to one where she’s wearing an aqua sweater!

If you'd like to buy my book; 'In These Days of Cell Phones, Texting & Social Media ... Can the Nest Ever be Truly Empty?' visit:

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

College Students Should Be Poor!

I got so much feed back from my story about Brittany wanting a tattoo! One person emailed me, “Does Brittany know that tattoos are PERMANENT?” in very large font and then went on to suggest that pink and blue sharpies would work just as well!

Her aunt emailed to ask if Brittany knew she wouldn’t be able to give blood for a couple months. (and Brittany gives blood every chance she gets.)

A very sweet lady stopped me after church and said, “I’ve been meaning to ask you about your daughter? Have you checked her over? I hope she doesn’t get a tattoo!” I told her so far Brittany hadn’t been able to save enough money for one and she replied, “Then don’t give her any money!”

I’m probably safe. Brittany is not and never has been a saver. She has babysat since she was 11 years old and worked for Jersey Mikes Subs for two years in high school. She also has housesat, pet sat and plant sat! She has always made good money, but it goes out as fast as it comes in. Seriously, she made a lot of money over Christmas break and was broke within three days of returning to school!

Part of it, I can’t fault her. She is very generous and buys very nice gifts for people. She also has been known to call her dad on her way home and tell him not to have lunch; she’s bringing him one. She has brought me flowers, treated me to manicures and taken me out to many lunches all for no other reason then she thought of it and felt like it.

However she’s feeling the pinch in college. And she doesn’t like it much. We had told her we didn’t want her working her Freshman year and that we would put a certain amount of money into her bank account every week. This is supposed to happen every Friday. Usually about Wednesday the call comes, “Could you transfer the money a little early?”

The first time this happened she said she had no money to put gas in her car. But, she had bought an orchid for her dorm room!

We have a family phone plan and a couple months ago were stunned to see a charge for $49.00 worth of text messages! While we were still staring at the bill in wonder though and saying, “This is ridiculous! Why is she doing this?” John’s phone received a text message…. from Brittany…saying, “I “heart” you, dad.” And of course dad says, “We can’t take her text messaging away!” (We have since paid to put her on the unlimited plan!)

The thing is college kids don’t know how to be poor anymore! They have way too much stuff: refrigerators, microwaves, laptops, futons,

In our first house while living in Germany we made a bookshelf from concrete blocks and boards. I always remember when the German packers were packing up our stuff to move back to the states and seeing boxes labeled “rocks”. (Yes, your tax dollars moved my “rocks” across the ocean!)

But, where is the satisfaction that someday after eating Ramon noodles for years while going after that medical degree they realize that as a doctor you can buy a restaurant or two!

What will they have to look back at as a measure of how far they’ve come? Already they drive nicer cars then their parents!!

We’re doing our best to teach Brittany there is a lot of fun to be had as a poor starving college student.

At least it keeps her from that tattoo!

If you'd like to buy my book; 'In These Days of Cell Phones, Texting & Social Media ... Can the Nest Ever be Truly Empty?' visit:

To purchase the hat above, shop HERE

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Parenting your College Student – or Saying No Long Distance

When people used to tell me that the reason I was involved in so much was because I didn’t know how to say no, I would joke, “Of course I can say no! I’m a mother! I can say no without hearing the question!”

It’s a good thing I got all that practice!

Brittany called me during her second week at college to tell me that two of her good friends who were attending different schools from hers had gotten their noses pierced! I have known both of these girls since early grade school and neither is the type I would expect to do this. But, I knew Brittany wasn’t telling me this just to pass the news along. With teenagers there is always a hidden agenda.

And it’s not that she wanted to get her nose pierced herself!

No, it was the beginning of a different campaign.

She loves to take pictures and when she does, she puts them online in folders to share with people. When she sends them to me she makes sure we are both on the phone looking at them at the same time so she can tell me about her new friends.

“Look, Mom! That’s my friend Andrea. I went with her when she got her tongue pierced!”
“She pierced her tongue?” “UH! You took a picture of her tongue???”
“And, Mom, look where Taylor pierced her ear. I think it’s cute! Have you ever seen anyone pierce that part of the ear before?”

Actually I hadn’t. It’s the part of the ear that holds your iPod earbuds in. You know, the part that looks like it would really hurt if you put a hole in it!

Brittany has three holes in each ear (all around the rims) and I’m pretty sure she’s happy with that. So where was she going with all of this?

Tattoos! Yup! Christmas break freshman year she was home for a whole month. She planned to babysit and save the money to get a “small, tasteful tattoo.” (I personally don’t think those words go together.) When she was telling me about it she suggested a tiny pink cross. I told her pink would look like a scar. She said, “Well, maybe teal then.” I wrinkled up my nose.

I told her I would write about this for the newspaper. She said “Wait till I get it and I’ll take a picture of the tattoo to include!” I know she could get one in a place I would never see. I also know Brittany is incapable of keeping a secret from me! So we are at a friendly standoff….it could be a whole lot worse!

If you'd like to buy my book; 'In These Days of Cell Phones, Texting & Social Media ... Can the Nest Ever be Truly Empty?' visit:

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Can They Come Home Again?

Brittany made her first visit home from Western Carolina University for her fall break in October. It was also the first time she had made the drive by herself and although we told her to use MapQuest for directions, I don’t think she had them with her. John got a call on his cell that afternoon and heard her voice say, “Quick! Hendersonville or Asheville?” Luckily he is quick and realizing she was coming up to an exit, (and most likely very fast) said Asheville!” She replied, “Thanks!” and hung up.

She brought all her laundry. All. Toward the end of her stay while I was on the fifth or sixth load I mentioned there couldn’t be much left in her dorm room. “There’s none!” she replied proudly, “I even brought the T-shirts I hadn’t worn yet because they were all wrinkled in my drawers and I knew you’d smooth and fold them”!

She seemed to have a great week. I marveled at her executive skills as she juggled phone calls, putting different friends on hold while finalizing all their plans like a giant jigsaw puzzle. She managed to see everyone she wanted to and still get some sleep!

The only complaint I heard was actually overheard when she told a friend of mine, “I knew I was home when I opened the refrigerator. They have no food in the house! There was milk, carrots and some yoghurt that I put in there two months ago! I have more food in my dorm room then they have in their whole house! I should have brought them food!” (I haven’t taught her my secret talent of making meals out of nothing yet. It never ceases to amaze John.) Not that she was home for more then one dinner in the five days anyway!

She was back again for Thanksgiving and since we spent most of that long weekend at her aunt’s in DC, the refrigerator was still empty when she arrived. But, she had one day here before heading back to school and we spent it decorating the house for Christmas and making our own turkey dinner so we could have leftovers, which I packed up for her, because she told me the kids at school said they always bring Thanksgiving leftovers back with them. “That’s what’s done!” She left me with the decorating about 5 minutes after we started to visit different friends and then left on Sunday in a whirlwind. At least she took the 6 pairs of shoes that spent the weekend at our inside garage door!

I figured out fast, or maybe just remembered from when I was in college; it’s best to just let them go. They will be the first to tell you that no one at college tells them what time to go to bed so for short breaks let them make their own plans. You can deal with the rules and chores when they’re home for the whole summer. For now just ask if they had fun when they come in and listen to their answers, knowing that the house can’t get too messy in a weekend or a week and you can get it back to normal after they’re gone again.

Because after all when they are gone is your new normal.

If you'd like to buy my book; 'In These Days of Cell Phones, Texting & Social Media ... Can the Nest Ever be Truly Empty?' visit:

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The Competition Of Parent's Weekend

I went to my first college parent’s weekend this month. As a parent that is, I’ve been to plenty as a student. I started to feel the edge of competitiveness a couple weeks before when Brittany mentioned that a friend’s parents had been up to visit that weekend and had filled her friend’s refrigerator and left her a big check. The next week she mentioned that her roommate had gone home for the weekend and came back “stocked up”. I didn’t ask what she was stocked up with, because I didn’t want Brittany to know I was catching the hints.

But, we arrived at Western Carolina University early that Saturday morning with a big Halloween basket filled with goodies, a sack of Halloween decorations for her dorm room since she had told me the dorm was going to have a decorating contest and invite local kids in to trick or treat, and a pair of earrings we had picked up for her on a trip to Blowing Rock, a cute town in the North Carolina mountains, the weekend before.

There were parents everywhere. All were carrying huge loads of things into the dorms. It almost seemed like moving in day all over again!

Ok, so maybe I hadn’t brought as much stuff as they did, but we would have so much fun that she would beg us to come back the next time! We took a picnic to Dillsboro which was having an antiques festival and was all decorated for fall. It was charming and fun. Well maybe more my kind of fun then hers….so after the picnic I bought her a window decoration she liked for her room.

From there we took her to a play, “The Complete History of America, (Abridged)” which she was suppose to see and write a paper about for her theater class, but had waited for us to come and buy the tickets. It was a very funny play. At least her dad and I thought so.

Finally after much talk about how the money on her meal card would certainly not last until the end of the semester, we took her shopping. Somehow among the boxes of macaroni and cans of soup she managed to sneak in a new coffee maker (her other one was too small), more shelves, beauty supplies, gum, and cases of diet coke. (Now she looked like she was having fun!)

Then we took her out to dinner – her choice – which was “anywhere she wouldn’t have been able to afford on her own.” After fixing some problems with her computer and putting all her new supplies away we headed back to Hickory with the hoped for words ringing in our heads, “Today was great! You guys should come up more often.”

Which we will, as soon as we’ve paid this time off!

If you'd like to buy my book; 'In These Days of Cell Phones, Texting & Social Media ... Can the Nest Ever be Truly Empty?' visit:

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In these days of cell phones, emails and instant messages, can the nest really be empty?

We took our one and only child to college this week. I ended up doing most of the packing myself. I gave her a cooler to sort through her bathroom of beauty products and came up an hour later to find her with a green mask on her face and marveling over all the great earrings she forgot she had! That’s because inspite of three earring holders she usually tosses the ones she takes off into the back of the drawer.

It was faster for me to pack for her!

I too found lots of things in her room I’d been missing – mostly silverware! I guess I really did have a 12 piece setting! I’d begun to think I’d only bought an 8 piece set!

We loaded up her car and ours and made the two hour drive to Western Carolina University. The kids starting college now are the Millennials. 81 million young Americans born after 1982.

An article in my sorority’s magazine, ‘The Angelos’ said, “they’ve never watched TV without a remote, can’t remember a world without cell phones and think first of their computers when they hear the word ‘virus’. Barbie always had a job, spam and cookies are not necessarily food and popcorn is always cooked in a microwave.”

Raised by their baby boomer parents who doted on them these kids were given every opportunity. They grew up feeling wanted and valued by parents who were heavily involved in their lives – even when they went off to college, which the group began doing in 2000.

The Boomers and Milleniums are tight. Lucky for us all there are so many ways to keep in touch!

When I went off to college I got a weekly letter from my mom and sometimes a care package to which she would add mail that came for me at home. My dad would call occasionally from work, usually when I needed airline reservations to fly home for breaks. (He worked for United Airlines.)

John and I were still in the car on our way home from Western when Brittany called the first time. There was an answering machine message on our phone when we got home. The next morning John said he had heard from her again. I asked if she had called and he sheepishly said, “I IM’d her.” (This from someone who’s always believed IMing corrupted computers!)

She had mail here when we got home. We scanned it and emailed it to her, then I tossed the hard copies in a basket in case she wants to touch it when she comes home.

Well, I’d better get back to cleaning her room. I thought it would be a treat to have it clean for longer then five minutes. And I don’t really mind – I’ve already found two pair of earrings and a cute shirt she left that I’m going to borrow!

If you'd like to buy my book; 'In These Days of Cell Phones, Texting & Social Media ... Can the Nest Ever be Truly Empty?' visit:

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