By Carol Rood
When I decided to become a mother it was no light decision for me. I had always said I didn’t want children, and to be honest, I meant it. I had many men come and go in my life, and never wanted to have children. Then the day finally came and I met a certain man and decided maybe being a mom wasn’t such a bad idea.
A few years later along came my “Joe Cool”. I was so excited, and scared all at the same time. I was also full of hormones and went through a short period of “postpartum blues”. It probably didn’t help matters that I transferred from San Diego to Pensacola Florida when Joe Cool was only 6 weeks old. That was a bit crazy. Trying to schedule a military move, and handle being a new mom was quite a doozy!! Not to mention I had a C-section and had to recover from that as well. But we managed, and life went on.
Then a couple of years later we were handed a surprise baby, “The Genius”. He was so different from Joe Cool. He was wiggly, and wouldn’t lay still, and full of energy. Energizer bunny baby for sure!
We definitely had our hands full. Their father was a stay at home dad and went to college in the evenings. I was in the Navy working a full time job, and taking care of the kids in the evening while hubby went to school. It was a busy time. I thought It was demanding. I thought it was difficult. Joe Cool is currently 16, and The Genus is 14. Looking back on those times when they were little and required so much attention, I now realize that those were the easy times of being a parent.
Now don’t get me wrong, those days had their challenges: Learning to poop and pee in the potty. Learning how to do things for themselves. Letting them “cry it out” at night as I sat outside their bedroom doors listening to them cry and call for me, and crying myself. But even with all of that, those years were wonderful years. My boys adored me. I reigned supreme as “The Mommy”. What I said went, and there was no arguing. Just a little time out could work wonders. I always knew where they were, who they were with and what they were doing. (Yes, I know I am a control freak.)
Now that they are teenagers things are so much more complicated. They have internet access, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and Twitter accounts. They have phones (as long as they can pay their phone bill), with internet access. So I learned about Facbook and Instagram and Twitter etc, so I would understand their world. I put programs on the house computer to monitor screen shots and keystrokes, etc, so I could see what they were up too. I set parental controls on their phones so they can’t text during school, or after 10:00 when they should be in bed on school nights. All of it exhausting work.
Then I had to become a detective. Asking, “Who are you going to be with?” “What are you doing?” “Where are you going?” “When will you be home?” “Who is driving?” “Will there be adults present at this event?” “Will there be girls there also?” “Do you like any of them?” “Will there be adults present?” Around and around I go.
Then just to be even more sure I was getting the straight story I put a “Locator” service on our phone account where I can see where they are based on where their phone is. Anyone who has a teenager or young adult knows that they are NEVER very far from their phones!!
I was proud of myself, and thought I was on top of things. Boy, was I wrong. Because THEN I found out about Kik.
Kik is an app they can download onto their phones for free so they can text other people that have the app, and it doesn’t go through the phone account. So they can text all night long, and I would never see anything on the phone bill, and although I can “lock” their phones at a certain hour, I can’t make the data stop at a certain time, so they can still have access to the internet and their apps.
And THEN I found out about Snapchat. Snapchat is an app where they can send pictures, which can be viewed for just a few seconds, and then never viewed again. What a great way to send “taboo” photos that don’t stay in your gallery so your parent can see them if they scroll through your phone. So sexting via Snapchat has become the new rage. GREAT!! And of course as an adult I know that once something is on the internet it is there forever, but try convincing a teenager of that!
Luckily for me I love in a community where I know many of the parents of my kids friends. I have met them at swim meets, or soccer games, or school events. If I don;t know them personally I probably know someone who knows them. I call this group of parents my “mom posse”, and have used the posse many times over the years.
As a matter of fact I utilized it just the other night. Joe Cool was at work and Karol and I decided to go to the movies. Towards the end of the movie Joe Cool called me three times. I guess he forgot that you shouldn’t talk on your cell phone during a movie (note my sarcasm). When the movie was over I called him and asked what he needed. He said, “Hey, M. and A. want to go to the baseball field and watch the meteor shower tonight and they want me to go with them.”
Now even though Joe Cool is usually honest with me, I was like , “Sure, of course three teenaged boys want to go to a dark, empty field and watch a meteor shower…….right……” So I immediately texted both of the other boys’ moms to check if the meteor shower story was “legit”. I received a response form M’s mom that went something like this: “LOL, yes it is legit. I am on my way to pick up Joe Cool now.”
When they pulled up, I went outside and M’s mom and I had a good laugh about the “mom Posse” and how these teens won’t be able to get away with much of the stuff we did. The boys didn’t seem to think it was as amusing as we did. Oh well!!
I will say that it is a different world then when I grew up in the 80’s. There is more available for kids these days to lure them into trouble. Sure the drinking and experimentation is the same, but there seems to be more opportunities for those things to happen now than when I was a teenager.
So being a detective is as important as being a mom, and unfortunately for my boys, I will always be in their business and trying to keep up with what is going on in their lives. I am not their friend, I am their mom. I can be their friend later, when they have graduated college and they are living on their own. For now I need to parent them and keep guiding them in the way they need to go so they CAN get to college, graduate and be out there on their own living their lives!