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There is a
video circulating around that you may have seen—it’s of a cat dressed
as a shark riding a vacuum and chasing a duck, and it’s the most fabulous thing
in the world. I didn’t want to keep this genius all to myself, so I tried to
show it to my 14-year-old. She did the “talk to the hand” gesture (don’t teenagers
know that maneuver is so five minutes
ago?) and said, “Mom, stop 'showing me things on the Internet.'”
this with that last part framed with a hefty pair of air quotes, and by the
tone of her voice you would have thought I’d just shown her something
offensive, like pigs being herded into a bacon factory or people over 30 kissing.
that she didn’t think it was funny (because
c’mon, it was a cat dressed like a shark! Riding a goddamned vacuum!) It
was this: After sending her some videos I found hi-larious, knowing the words to a few too many of her favorite
songs and offering up my opinion on a couple of her friends’ love lives, I’d
exceeded the limit of what she considered teenage behavior. She was afraid that
soon she’d see me wearing a snap-back, a cropped tee and posting selfies on Instagram.
into this a lot these days with my teens—having to straddle that fine line
between trying to share in their world and staying on my side of the room.
While I think we have a pretty open relationship and share a lot of things,
it’s natural for them to not want their parents to be too familiar—or
involved—with every aspect of their lives. It goes back to that old adage,
“Please act like my mom, and not my friend.”
years ago going to a party with my now-husband for an old classmate of his
he hadn’t seen in years. His friend’s mom was there, talking and mingling
easily with the 20-somethings. She was dressed in skintight pants and a long
flowing caftan and, while we all thought she looked great for her age, nothing
could prepare us for what came next: She broke out a dance routine that I
recall being a cross between flamenco and Kevin Bacon’s dramatic Footloose solo. Sure we clapped at the
end, but you know we were all thinking to ourselves, “Thank God that wasn’t my
mom out there.”
I’ve been told that constant interaction and commenting is absolutely forbidden.
that’s a little more egregious than sharing a cat video, but to me it just
showed a mom trying a little too hard to relate to her son’s world. While
doing a simple two-step as she crossed the room to refresh the dip bowl
would have been acceptable, she went too far. Luckily for her, the
“talk to the hand” gesture hadn’t been invented yet.
media poses a whole new set of situations that require some thought to crossing
the line. While it’s fine to "Like" an occasional post on their Facebook page,
or share a link once in awhile to something that might interest them, I’ve been
told that constant interaction and commenting is absolutely forbidden. This is
where they “hang out with their friends," albeit virtually, and being too
present in their online world is like the adult who bursts in with their lame cat
videos and bad dancing.
even think of asking to see their Tumblr pages. According to my teens this is
strictly their territory, having already seen their parents take over Facebook with
their crockpot recipes and Bejeweled scores.)
they’re with other teens it’s the same dilemma; interacting just enough to let
them know you’re there, without infringing on their privacy and driving them
crazy. Even though they’ve told me their friends think I’m “cool,” I don’t want
to be the parent who pulls up a chair, pops open a Dr. Pepper and starts
telling stories like “the time I woke up in a park naked.” (True story: I
remember a friend’s mom telling us this when we were in high school. I couldn’t
look at her in carpool ever again, knowing the secrets she hid behind those
curlers and housecoat.)
But I’m not
going to stop sticking my toe over that line, because guess what? The day after
I tried to show my daughter that brilliant cat/shark video, I showed her
another one of a puppy licking a blow-dryer and she loved it. She probably
figured it could be worse—at least I’ve never shown up to any of her parties
in a caftan.