Technology


<Sniff!>

The Boy left in the custody of his grandfather at high noon today, ready to do battle for his honor and house.  He carried with him 8 swords, body armor, billet-doux from his three sisters sweet, and a boyish grin that belied the certain, hairy shadow evident on his upper lip.

He will spend his next 3 days dueling bouts against other youth warriors of the blade.

This is the first travel competition The Boy has done without a parent or coach.  It was an even toss this morning to determine who was most anxious:  The Boy, The Grandpa, The Papa or The Mamma.

His travel kit included entertainment:  books, The Papa’s iPod Touch, and a cell phone.

The cell phone was a highly contested item when we gave it to him for his 12th birthday.  We felt like we had caved to a want our budget couldn’t afford and his need did not justify.

Little did we know that a blink later, he would not only need a cell phone, but we would need him to carry one to offer us communion like The Bread of Life.

Cell phones text:

Jan 14, 2011 3:23 PM (GroupMe w/ The Boy established.)

Papa:  Hey The Mamma, it’s The Papa.  I added you to the “The Mamma & The Boy” GroupMe w/ The Boy.  Reply #exit to leave or #help

The Boy:  Testing testing 1 2 1 2

Jan 14, 2011 11:14 AM

The Mamma:  Gottcha!  xoxoxoxo

Jan 27, 2011 11:51 AM (The Boy & The Grandfather just departed.)

The Papa:  Miss you!

The Mamma:  Love you, Son!  Have a blast.  xo

The Boy:  Miss you 2

The Mamma:  Xo.  We will now leave you alone for at least 5 minutes!  Ha!  Good work getting it all done so you could go well and free!

The Boy:  Thanks. Girls ok?

Jan 27, 2011 12:17 PM

The Mamma:  Every girl in house cried. Especially The Oldest Girl. And yes, I do mean me too.  Well begun?

The Boy:  Yep

The Mamma:  Very good. xo

Jan 27, 2011 3:oo PM

The Boy:  Just stopped for bathroom and gas.

The Papa:  Cool.  Deep into _journey_?

The Mamma:  Eat something too.  Love you!

The Boy:  Not sure. It’s getting chilly.  Huge hills with tress covered in snow, very pretty. What are you guys up to?

The Boy:  We are gonna stop later for a sitdown meal

The Mamma:  Very yummy.  Yay!  I just finish with the Mcs.  I am getting my hair done and Papa is working/with the girls.

The Boy:  Cool.

Jan 27, 2011 4:19 PM

The Boy:  In _landmark_.

The Papa:  Yee ha!  Making great time.

The Mamma:  Really?  Wow.  Doing well?

The Mamma:  Been thinking about what a big weekend this is for you, how much opportunity you will have to fence over the next couple of months. Makes Mamma happy, happy.  Xo

The Boy:  Only 2 hours and 26 minutes left.

The Mamma:  So good.  Bet you are hungry.  Did you start the Card book?

The Boy:  Yeah

The Mamma:  Like it?

The Boy:  Yeah.  Two hours in. Is great.

The Mamma:  Every time I read anything about time, I think of Anthony’s Chronos living backwards, outside of relational intimacy.

The Boy:  Yeah. That was a strange book.

The Mamma:  Love how you love to read.

The Boy:  =)

The Mamma:  Oh, wanna have The Oldest Girl take in your Js to Ms F, so you get all good props for being prepared?

The Boy:  Sure.  That’s fine

The Mamma:  Rock star. Those turned out well.  Xo

Jan 27, 2011 4:30 PM

The Boy:  =)

The Mamma:  🙂

Jan 27, 2011 4:50 PM

The Mamma:  Hey.  What’s your theme song?

The Boy:  My theme song?

The Mamma:  Yeah. Pumps you up. Sings your creed…

The Boy:  Oh uh. Actually the song If It Gives You Hell by All American Rejects

The Mamma:  Good one.

The Boy:  Why?

Jan 27, 2011 6:57 PM

The Boy:  At hotel.

The Papa:  Cool. Plenty of time to get a bite and some rest.

The Mamma:  Hotel nice?  relax and have great eats!  xo

The Boy:  Yeah sounds good.

The Boy:  Gonna leave phone to charge while we eat

The Mamma:  Ok. Enjoy.  Xo

Jan 27, 2011 8:14 PM

The Boy:  Back.  Had the biggest meatiest cheesiest lasagna ever

The Papa:  Oh, yum. Nice carb load for tomorrow.

The Mamma:  Delicious!  Way to carb load!  xo

The Boy:  Yah

The Mamma:  Love!  xo

The Boy:  Just opened my suitcase. Tell girls hello for me?

The Mamma: 😉 Xo (The girls secretly handmade scrum-dil-i-ic-ous cards and hid them in The Boys luggage.)

The Mamma:  Hugs from us all!  We love you.

The Boy:  MONKEY (The Boy had left me with his most recent first place trophy, THE MONKEY, to keep during his trip.  I snuck that into his suitcase too.)

The Mamma:  I know, right? 🙂 xoxoxoxo

The Boy:  Yay

The Mamma:  To remind you you’re a winner.

Jan 27, 2011 8:59 PM

The Mamma:  Going to bed soon?

The Boy:  Soon

The Mamma:  K. Want to talk, or just ready to get still?  Xo

The Boy: Kinda tired and wanna get still.  Love you and good night.

The Mamma:  Good night, Boy.  Godspeed.  Love you.  xo

The Boy:  Night, poopsie.

The Papa:  Night, buddy.

The Mamma:  xo

The Boy:  Night dude

I no longer have any idea why I thought, “He doesn’t need a damn cell phone!”

That damn phone texts.

That Boy used that blessed phone of his to keep us connected with his travel in an easy, conversational, relevant, real-time way.

TXT spells LOVE!

xoxoxoxo

Well baby I’ve been here before
I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew ya
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah!

the Onion makes me cry again today with their post New parenting Books Sparks Outrage:  (Their satirically brilliant post below.)

New Parenting Book Sparks Outrage

Last week, Penguin Press published Amy Chua’s book Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother, which criticizes “Western” parenting and advocates an “Asian” approach that includes forbidding playdates and being highly critical of children in order to make them more successful. Here are some other tips from the book:

  • Take your children to Chuck E. Cheese’s and let them play any game they choose, then make them watch as you burn their tickets
  • Ice cream is a great motivator for kids; promise them that if they do everything you ask, they can have some when they turn 18
  • Inform your child that televisions receive all of their power from flawless renditions of Brahms’ Violin Concerto in D
  • Only let your children have a pet dog if they can tame the most rabid dog at the pound
  • Should your child express interest in spending more time with his or her friends, simply pack up and move several hundred miles away
  • To ensure academic excellence, inform your children that there is a mark higher than an A-plus and then shame them for failing to attain it
  • Replace their frail little limbs with less fragile prosthetics
  • Remember, you may have to put up with one or two suicides before you finally craft that perfect child you’ve always wanted

I love the clipped tonal quality of these outrageous suggestions. I imagine a stiff-lipped, speaker with the impeccable posture only genuine, Zen control can erect from the human spine. Her words intone this clearly elucidated smack from the diaphragm, like a Cambridge neurologist enunciates a prognosis. The tension is delicious, and unsavory enough to make  readers worry if they can get to the potty on time.

Anyone with a finger on the pulse of the media cycle knows Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother did more than strike a vein of controversy, it severed an artery. The blood spray has stained even the coolest of shirts. People are well beyond offended by Chua’s book, commentators are rabid and hysterical.  High pitched and raving, these percussive utterances spit from the throat though loose, moist lips that splatter saliva as rapidly as they shoot words of outrage like machine gun fire.

What exactly has our American, parental panties in such a bundle over this one? Why is everyone so offended?

Why Battle Hymn of The Tiger Mother Sparks Such Outrage

Penguin Press opened Pandora’s box last week with their release of Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother, by Yale University law professor, Amy Chua.  Certainly, Chau unapologetically details how she and her husband chose to raise their two daughters in “the Chinese way,” that emphasizes academic excellence and individual superiority over social engagements and extra curricular activities. However, the backlash of controversy in response to her book exposes the very insecure fish bellies of modern parents.  Here are some possible reasons our American, parental panties are in a bundle:

  • We’re more like Ron White than Sartre.  Like yesterday we were snuggling on a beanbag chair naked, eating Cheetos, and we said, “Yeah.  We could make a baby.  How hard could it be?”
  • My daughter is the Props Manager of her high school’s Drama Club.
  • My daughter plays concert Kazoo.
  • My 187 pound, 12 year-old daughter goes to the bathroom whenever she wants, usually during Oprah commercials.
  • We wanted our 15 year-old daughter to play Carnegie Hall too, but she had to drop out of school to go to rehab before her baby is born.
  • We’re going to get around to teaching our daughter Mandarin Chinese once she brings up her F in English.
  • I don’t know which friend’s sleepover my daughter’s attending; she hasn’t been home since Friday morning.

I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!

BlogHer is an awesome space.  It’s like one big, cozy den in a real girlfriend’s house.  It makes me think of my friend, TJ’s, house.  Her place slings hash and parties more than any NYC bistro. Everybody feels happy and heard in her bright, citrus kitchen… children, couples, adults, girlfriends, and in-laws alike.  TJ knows her crowd, speaks the truth, and lives in a land where polka dots meet sass.  So when I’m stuck at home with a sick kid, or actively avoiding laundry, or coming down off work, or checking the pulse of recent headline buzz, I show up on BlogHer like I often wander over to TJ’s house.  I love places where I don’t have to worry what I wear, Starbucks is always welcome, and make-up is entirely optional.

I plugged into some BlogHer voices like passive-agressive earbuds more than usual last week, in bold procrastination of my urgent need to plan and host a weekend event.  I had one big case of Mamma- Performance-Anxiety, and believed I couldn’t consummate.  While there, I read “One Chinese Mother’s Voice,” The post is not only provocative and profound, but it challenged me to Surrender on a new level.

The post speaks for itself, and I encourage you to read it.  Though its entirety compels, an Hallelujah rose like a phoenix from the ashes when she sang:

Sure, the little voice produces an adult who knows how to work hard, achieve, and get into an Ivy League school. She believes she can accomplish anything if she puts her mind to it.

But that little voice also produces a person who worries about not accomplishing enough and frets about the next accolade.

The little voice produces a person who cannot accept the fact that there are actually things hard work alone cannot accomplish.

The little voice produces a person who can’t accept the fact that her competence comes in Christ alone.

The little voice produces a person who can’t accept the fact that she needs a Rescuer.

The truth is, all the hard work, grittiness, and achievement in the world cannot make you right with God.

That comes from admitting to Jesus that you can’t work hard enough, that you don’t know all the answers, and that you really can’t be confident of anything in life except Him.

When you let God’s grace invade every part of your life, it’s not so easy to suddenly turn that little voice off.  Thankfully, God’s grace, embodied in Jesus’ love, speaks a whole lot louder than the little voice.

Ester Feng, http://www.blogher.com/frame.php?url=http://www.estherfeng.com,  unglued me like bad 80’s hair on a too humid day.  The Holy Dove moves through her to minister to my heart.  Her premises about “the little voice,” are not to be denied.  In a cathartic spasm of PTSD, I realize how my own little voice still sometimes deafens me from the Still, Calm Voice of Peace.  I wish to plant no such little voices in my children’s intellectual maps.  Have I constructed a family culture wherein anxious children measure accomplishments with fretting fingers, strumming ever-shifting emotional abacuses in search of the next accolade?  Have I embedded the message that they need a rescuer like an in-grown toe nail to falter their steps in Faith?  As I intone the mantra, “Quality matters,” have I diminished their reality that true competence comes in Christ alone, and that there are things their hard work cannot independently orchestrate?  Is my own heart a place that Grace invades so that I may lead them toward Godly relationships and Love?

I walked away from the screen the first time I read Feng’s post, and knew she’s struck a secret chord, and like David pleased the Lord.

This Mamma needs be still, and know that God will be God to my children.   Only His voice may speak clearly enough to consistently mute the noise of this percussive world, so that my children may turn to him as their Him as their Portion Deliverer.

I need to be inside-out on Message with this Truth… My children belong to Him, and all the interactive book reports, music lessons, soccer tournaments, and healthy lunches in the universe don’t compare to the Glory of the Provision He brings to the lives of my children through Love.

Surrender.

Love wins.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah!

In Starbucks Siren, I opined that a googol is a big number.

A googol is actually a mighty big number.

Any guesses out there how many zeros are in a googol?  10, 100, 10,000?

For those of you that chose 100, pat yourselves on the back!  A googol is the number 10 to the 100th power:

10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000!

So, Google, the search engine gurus, created an intentional homophone of this mega number, coined by a 9-year-old Milton Sirotta in 1938, as the name of their search engine.  Milton’s uncle,  mathematician Edward Kasner, made hay with young Milton’s concept in his book Mathematics and the Imagination.  Even the book title itself mainstreams the fancy of any one who googles as a verb.  Google made its own hayday with young Milton’s term.  They fractured its spelling to Google and began to sell their promise of a googol of ready hits on any topic you could want to search and have become their own irrefutable icon in the tech community.

So, a couple nights ago I was swapping sass with a new reader, Sara, and suggested in a comment that Google was delicious enough to have its own ice-cream flavor.  She insisted that I patent the idea immediately.  In the in-between, the fam and I have formulated a couple of possible recipes and seek your opinion.

Just what googol of yummies should be in iGoogle Ice-cream?

Please note we’ve been design intentional… two Os make us reach for things round, and a time or two we went clever (Google can be a life saver with research, thus Life Saver Gummies…)

BTW, I know you’re out there and reading.  I can hear you breathing.  This time the question is neither rhetorical nor esoteric.  Let’s hear your voice or ideas.  One voice, one vote.

I plan to tabulate your responses, research patents, and plot a pitch to Google!

iGoogle Ice-cream i: Vanilla bean ice-cream, Life Saver Gummies, mini-chocolate chips.

iGoogle Ice-cream ii: Chocolate ice-cream, Fruit Loops, coconut.

iGoogle Ice-cream iii: Mocha ice-cream, yogurt covered almonds, toffee chips

iGoogle Ice-cream iv: Cherry ice-cream, milk-chocolate covered cherries, white chocolate chunks.

iGoogle Ice-cream v: Vanilla ice-cream, pretzel rings, brownie-batter ripple

iGoogle Ice-cream vi: Coconut ice-cream, graham cracker, dark-chocolate covered peanuts

iGoogle Ice-cream vii: Caramel ice-cream, macadamia nuts, hot fugue ripple

iGoogle Ice-cream viii: Chocolate ice-cream, Oreos, Nilla wafers, chocolate-chip cookie dough

Raise your hand if you can tell I gave up ice-cream as part of my back-to-fitness New Year’s regimen!

I think I slobbered all over the keyboard.

Excuse me, I need a napkin.

And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

and drool on my chin!

Greek mythology teaches us that the Sirens are mythical creatures with the head of a woman and the body of a bird.  Native to Sirenum scopuli; three small rocky islands, they lured mariners to their watery graves with their seductive melodies of their irresistable songs.

Sirens

In the Odyssey, the Argonauts were able to dodge the sinister song of the sirens because their dude, Orpheus, recognized their predicament in time to pull out his lyre and sing his own Hallujah clearly and loudly enough that it drown out the sirens’ sexy and deadly tunes.  A bit of a maverick, Orpheus was clever enough to travel to the underworld and return.  A classic epic-hero-kind-of-guy, Orpheus travelled to hell and back in a bold attempt to rescue his wife, and knew how to weave and dodge.  In another trek close to the sirens’ island, for example, Orpheus instructed sailors to stuff wax in their ears to secure their safe passage.  Orpheus himself, however, had an appetite both for the sirens’ voices and their wisdom.  Lore told that sirens would impart mysteries to each soul that came close to them, a sagacity that quickened the spirit and mind.  He wanted him a double scoop of those goodies, so he ordered the crew to tie him to the mast such that he could hear their beautiful songs without willingly throwing himself forfeit to their fiendish hymns.

Now I am going to tell you something that might seem totally unrelated.

Don’t say, “Again?”  I can hear you when you say that.

CNN reported today that Starbucks has changed their logo.

For those of you that don’t know, I am a Starbucks girl.  If you don’t know my regular order by now, well, I guess you don’t really love me.  I think the only legal tender could be Starbucks gift cards.  The only way to gift a better experience is to give a Barnes & Noble gift card… books and beans, Baby.  Shaky Zen, and you know I love me the juxtaposition of trying to meditate with the quad pump shakes.

As you can see below, the use of the Starbucks Siren has evolved since 1971.  Clearly, the Siren was a somewhat closeted figure, and come 2011, Starbucks is all done with their Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policies.

Starbucks unveils new logo

I began with a brief overview of Siren lore for a purpose, People.  Let’s recall that Sirens are like mythological serial killers.  Before there was ever a CSI crime lab, these seductresses stole the lives of innocent sailors for seeming sport.  As much of a Starbucks fan as I am, I still gotta wonder how this murderess became a coffee selling icon.  Does the coffee lure innocent people to spend ridiculous amounts of money for an addictive drug and smash their financial peace on the rocks of their corporate island?

Or is the swift and heroic Starbucks consumer like Orpheus?  Will the go-juice administered by a friendly barista imbue nuance to aid our recognition of predicaments?  Will a venti skim quad shot no-whip Mocha stimulate in us enough acuity to prompt when to pull out our lyres and sing our own Hallelujahs clearly and loudly enough that it drowns out the sexy and deadly tunes of the world?  A bit sleep deprived and overworked, is the Starbucks consumer instantaneously transformed like Superman in a phone booth to become clever enough to travel to hell and back and return?

As delicious as are their $12 scones, and really if you have tasted the raspberry, I know you will back me up on this, does any modern day consumer have a yen for the sirens’ voices and their wisdom?  Lore notwithstanding, we’ve got Google to impart mysteries to souls that draw nigh.  Google sagacity quickens the spirit and mind… Do you know how big a google is?  It’s a big number.  I already got broadband, of course I want a double scoop of those goodies.  I order coffee so I am awake enough NOT to willingly throw myself forfeit to fiendish hymns.

I love Starbucks, but consider tea as I reflect.  Is it the product or the allure that sings the Siren’s song?

Yeah, I admit it, the wench can sing, but I think she looks better from the closet after I’ve had a cup of coffee.

And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!

Today is a day of many lists.  We’ve heard the count down of the Top 100 songs on the radio on the way to the mall for the biggest sale of the season, and tonight they will drop the ball in NYC.

One of our family favs is the list of banished words.  This year’s list includes several technology terms like “viral,” and “Google,” as well as “Facebook,” as verbs.  A couple of nuggets from Sarah Palin made the list like, “refudiate,” and “Mamma Grizzlies.” I won’t miss, “I’m just sayin,” also listed, but will grieve, “epic.”  The list is compiled using public input on words that are regarded as “so over,” (BANNED) from mis-use, over-use or uselessness.

Our family comprised our own List of Phrases Banished from the Family’s English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness.

From The Children:

“It’s gonna be a big day.”

“Don’t forget to set your alarm.”

“You got this one wrong.”

“That was due today?”

“It’s due tomorrow.”

“Sectionals are today.”

“Get out your planner.”

“Quality work matters.”

“Time for bed.”

“Have you played your violin?”

“Whose turn is it to do the litter box?”

“No, no, not like that, like this…”

“Are you paying attention?”

“How long have you been on the computer?”

“Brush.”

“Should you be eating that with those braces?”

“When is that due?”

“Be careful.”

“Do you hear me?”

“Do you understand me?”

“What did you say?”

“No means no.”

“What is the problem?”

Anything that begins, “How many times have I told you…,” “Did you remember to…”  “Don’t tell me…” “Don’t forget…,” or “What did I say about…”

From the Parents:

“My bed is wet.”

“Can I go?”

“It wasn’t me.”

“No I didn’t.”

“My soccer game is at 9:00 a.m.”

“The cat puked again.”

“She won’t clean up.”

“I didn’t know.”

“There’s a dance Friday night.”

<At any meal> “I don’t like it.”

Anything that begins, “I forgot..,” “It’s due tomorrow…,” “I got assigned a long term project today…,” “Can I invite…”

Though the words vary, I think our family is in consensus on it’s more fun to play and eat ice cream than do homework or chores in 2010.

I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!

There are many firsts that young mothers compare over playdates or in phone calls to their BFFs.  First through the night sleep, first time sitting up, first time crawling, first steps, first day of kindergarten.  It goes on and on across generations and time like the tide.

There are other unpublished firsts that rarely make the coffee date agenda or conference call.  Unpublished, that was, until Facebook.

So, you know how you don’t usually get the low down on the first time your brother’s daughter French kisses a boy?  Never fear!  Facebook is here.

Thanks to the lesser touted and more pernicious gifts of modern technology, if your niece French kisses a boy, at say, a school event, or even better, a party she is not even supposed to be at, and her BFF catches all of it on her smartphone, then a complete stranger can post it on her Facebook account, tag your niece, and you, your parents, all of your niece’s friends, and even the tech savvy grandparents, who only have accounts so they can keep in touch with the grandkids, will have those juicy pics waiting for view the next time they sign on to Facebook.

OMG!

TNLMAO!

Both taboo firsts happened in my family today.

Call me conservative, but I think 12 is way too young for French Kissing.  And now, there it is, her premature choice available for family viewing and commentary.  Sadly, I think the family might be less kind an audience to the choice than her middle school brethren.

Not that I’ve talked to any of them about it… It’s not like I got a handbook on how to navigate sticky familial technology outings…

I am, however, smart enough not to call my brother to discuss it.

I also showed it to my kids.

No.

Not in a snotty, ha-ha, look what happened to her way.

There-but-for-the-Grace-of-God-go-you-and-I was more the touch and feel of that discussion.  My children adore our niece.  They were shocked that she would kiss a boy, her friend would post it, and that such private pictures of her could show up in their father’s, uncle’s, grandfathers’ feed.

Moments that used to be secret diary scribbles, are now irretrievable public data.  Once it’s out there, it’s out there, Baby.

Great pic for potential internship review committee members to sweep during all too typical applicant social-networking audits.

And don’t miss the point that the girl in the pics is 12.  You have to be 13 to even have a Facebook account.  It is widely known that kids just lie about their birthdays to get accounts as early as 8 and 9.

Facebook bit my family back today.

Think about your kids’ access, so the next time you log on to your account, you don’t see something like this:

About Me                 Child Youknow Personally

Basic Info
Sex: Female
Birthday: April 1, 1998

Parents: Dead to me.
Siblings: none
Relationship Status: Hungry

Interested In: Men
Looking For: A Hook Up

Current City: Miami, FL
Hometown: Las Vegas. NV

Favorite Quotations “Be Who Yu Are,, And Not Who Others Want Yu Too Be”… “If I Could Choose between Breathing And Loveing Yu , I Would Choose My Last Breathe To Say I Love Yu”…. “What Hurts The Most Is Being So Close”
Activities

Texting, Hanging Out With Friends, Dancing, Singing, Color, Shopping, Traveling, Talking to Friends, Chillin’ with any of my friends, Xbox 360, Laptop, Eyelinger, Phone

Music Never Shout Never, Drake, Micheal Buble, B o N, Big Time Rush, Lil Wayne, Owl City, Michael Jackson, Travie McCoy, 3OH!3, Justin Bieber, Randomly singing lyrics that fit what someone has just said, Hearing part of a song and thinking, “That’s going to be my next status,” I Like All Genres of Music, Cash Money and 55 more

Movies Toy Story, The Blind Side, I Shall Call Him Squishy, and he shall be mine,      and he shall be my Squishy…, The Hurt Locker, Easy A, Disney, Buddy the Elf, Finding Nemo, Disney Pixar, Paranormal Activity, Step Brothers, Official Vampire Suck Movie, Harry Potter, Are we Done Yet? and 4 more

Television MTV’s 16 and Pregnant, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Ghost Whisperer, Make It or Break It, Teen Mom, Jersy Shore, My Life As Liz, “I HOPE YOU GO BALD!” “I HOPE THEY CANCEL OPRAH!”   “YOU TAKE THAT BACK!!!” Spongebob’s face when he figured out Squidward likes Krabby Patties, Miley, don’t you know your party in the USA can’t start until KeSha walks in?, So You Think You Can Dance, Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory, Rob & Big, Jershey Shore and 25 more

And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!

A recent rash of semi-hysterical emails that Cc’d all the parents of The Middle Girl’s third grade class prompted my rehearsal of some common sense email etiquette tips for parents.

The trigger email of the series was penned by a well meaning, but emotional Mommy that wanted to understand why her son had become ill three times since October, and thought it might make grand sense if the other parents took their kiddos in for testing whether or not they were symptomatic.  The word “carrier” was used.  Naturally, this prompted enthusiastic responses from both sides of the sick bed.  Parents did not want their own child singled out because they had been ill, while others did not want their child to undergo unnecessary medical procedures.  Each exchange of the series was replied to all.

In all seriousness, before I begin my spoof of the day, Email Etiquette Rules for Outraged Parents, may I sincerely assert that time and research has proved two universal truths about email.  First, it is better to never, ever send an email to any one for any reason when angry.  A cool off period always aids reflection, and flame emails sent cannot be taken back.  There is NO DELETE KEY once that puppy has taken up residence in another account’s doghouse… and then you’re the one in the kennel.  Secondly, it is rarely helpful,  or even advisable to REPLY ALL.  In the vast majority of email communications, your response may be sufficiently rendered directly to the original or most recent sender.  Finally, nothing can understate the fact that EMAIL IS NOT PRIVATE!  Once you send an email, it can be forwarded and/or printed to any party without your knowledge, and certainly without your permission.

That is what happened in this case among The Middle Girl’s class parent community.  Nothing makes genuinely sane and loving people more situationally crazy than the righteous defense of their kids.  You mix the unconditional love of a Mamma Bear protecting her cub with partial information emotionally communicated to twenty other equally fallible parents similarly devoted to the own kids in the same classroom community, and it’s like Kryptonite.  Even Super Man gets the vapors in such a scene.  As a result, good people got mad and hurt.  Reputations were dented and egos were bruised.  It was messy, sad and avoidable.  REPLY ALL is a quick way to SUPER SIZE woe.

So again, I am going to kid soon.  What will follow in Email Etiquette Rules for Outraged Parents is PARODY.  I am sincere, however, when I testify email can be a communication tool that can bite back bigger bitter than a rabid badger.   You know that old woodworker adage, “Measure twice, cut once?”  I think email’s version is “Read twice, send once, and if angry, don’t send at all.”

On a lighter note, time to infuse some levity into this whole scene, so, as promised:

Email Etiquette Rules for Outraged Parents

1. Don’t send anything you don’t want Xeroxed 1000 times and stuck under every windshield of your child’s school parking lot.  (Faculty AND student.)

2. Avoid using REPLY ALL option.  Think about it, do you really want to scream in stereo?  Every email sent to school stakeholders adds or detracts from your family brand at that school.  You don’t want IRREGULAR as your family label!

3. Less is always more when you are angry.  Use as few words as possible.  Avoid profanity.  Profanity never translates in email and you can’t help your kids if you come across like a drunk that tossed too many at your first cousin’s open bar karaoke night .

4. Speaking of imbibing… don’t drink and email.  No good can come of it.  1-95 has signs warning against Intextication on billboards.  You cannot offer good tips to your kid’s school when tipsy.

5. Write in a clear and non-threatening manner.  You can’t help your kid if you’re in the local lockup or subject to a restraining order.  State your point briefly, clearly and as positively as possible.  See Rule #3.  Less is Always More.

6. Remember that emails may be forwarded without your knowledge or consent.  This is a literal as well as a figurative transfer.  Write email in such a way that the reader will not forward his response all over the head, psyche, grade or freedom of your kid.  If there is any possibility that what you wrote in your email can do more harm to your kid, don’t, for the love of .com, send it!

7. Don’t forward hoaxes.  If you don’t know or cannot prove the assertions of your text, do not transmit them to a stakeholder in your child’s school community.  It just makes you look a little hysterical and a lot ignorant.  Email is not talk radio, people, it’s not anonymously phoning in and getting it all off your chest time, it’s on the record and it has teeth that can bite back.

8. DON”T SHOUT.  In email, writing in all caps is considered shouting.  If you feel the need to hit the all caps key as you compose an email, this is like a Star Trek moment on the bridge, RED ALERT!  This is an email you probably should not send at all, and certainly not without a 12-24 hour cooling off period.

9. By all means, PHONE A FRIEND.  Get a tone check from a spouse or trusted friend.  Make it an accountability partnership.  Promise each other that you are going to act as one another’s SPAM filters.  Make a commitment to each other that you will honestly tell each other if your email makes you sound like a flaming ass.  That’s what friends do!  We tell each other when we’ve got lipstick on our teeth.  No one wants to look like an ass or have red delicious canines.

10. Cool off, cool down and walk away.  Flame emails usually hurt people.  Set a time limit you will honor for all emotional emails, 12 hours-one week.  Abraham Lincoln did this with letters.  He put letters aside in his desk drawer and rarely sent letters that communicated anger or criticism.  His legendary honesty was balanced by judgment.  Remember that it is difficult for people to be on your kid’s side if they are pissed at you as a parent.

Baby I have been here before
I know this room, I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you.
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah!

A little more than three months ago, the family packed up and headed out of town for a spontaneous beach weekend. See No Carb Left Behind and No Thing Left Behind for the whimsical touch and feel of that trip.

Today we travel in the same vehicle with the same children, but alas, we seem a quart low on the whimsy. Would that there were a dipstick for whimsy… We could measure how low we are, and top off at the closest Pick Quick.

As any parent of children of any age knows, however, we don’t have the technology for that kind of roadside assistance yet. The noblest of efforts to execute 800 miles with four children in one day simply invites the macabre. It is a good thing indeed The Husband appreciates gallows humor.  Even Jack Skellington would find the vehicle version of Time Out humorous. The child invited to reflect upon his/her choices must sit silently with their eyes closed for 15 minutes. No iPod, no movie, and no snack bag. Repeat offenders have to facilitate a road trip game, but that really punishes all for the offense of the one.  Since breakfast there has been mental combat over such world pressing issues like the cereal box, how one asked another to borrow a book, who got to fill up his/her water glass first, how to share a bag of Cheetos, and who got to open the foil package of Pop-Tarts. We still have 200 miles to go, and I am sorely tempted to violate the open container laws of Georgia.

On this particular trip, we travel to Florida to celebrate Thanksgiving and attend a family wedding. We will stay in three different family homes over our eight night stay and drive a total of over 2,500 miles. This reality adds to the already sharp edge of tired children who live an over-scheduled mix of academics, athletics, social, and church activities.  Our resources are tissue paper thin parentally as well. The Husband travelled last week, including the weekend, and I participated in a certification conference.

I miss the beach.  I miss that suspended free fall joy that comes outside of an agenda. I miss the sunshine pace and rolling waves and how no one wore a watch.  I guarantee you that Nana has had her nose pressed against the glass already, and we are still three hours out.  I want to hear a conflict about how much sand is in the bed, or that The Middle Girl’s face hurts from smiling so much, instead of her present condition of lips that are so chapped they bleed. I miss the lingering expectation of discovery and fun.

I haven’t yelled at anyone today, and know we’ve all done our best, but I wish I had mustered more of The Beach Mom persona for the kids today, rather than the somewhat crispy and frazzled mom that barely got us packed and on the road. I believe I am central to the creation of the tone of our adventures, and it’s time for me to shift my behaviors and choose to splash some unexpected fun on the scene. Maybe we can do backward dinner and start with ice cream sundaes. Maybe we can do parking lot yoga. Maybe I can shine light into the corners of this dark truck until they feel the love here and anticipate it in the home we will arrive at tonight.

And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!

THE DEPARTMENT OF Child Rearing and Correction Department

SUPPLEMENTARY REPORT


CASE FILE # 16-23-04 PAGE # 1
Scene:  Kitchen DATE:  10/14/10
OFFENSE:  DOMESTIC DISORDER SUSPECT: MINOR CHILD/REN

On 10-14-10, shortly before 6:00 p.m., I was notified by The Husband dispatcher, Father of Four, Department of Child Rearing and Correction Department, of an incident of vandalism in the kitchen of our residence.  The Husband called me from the basement to state that a disturbance had been found in the first room south of the garage of our family residence.  The Husband said that the scene was found disturbed upon his attempt to enter to get a cold beer from the ‘frig.  The Husband alleged that when he entered the kitchen to approach the Kitchen Aid refrigerator, he noticed the disturbance.  He asserted that he immediately left the scene and sealed it until I could be contacted.   He left The Boy to guard the scene while he made the necessary communications.

Upon receipt of The Husband’s report, I advised The Middle Girl to notify The Oldest Girl and The Baby regarding the situation.  The children immediately walked down the steps and reported to the scene, arriving shortly after I did.  My arrival on the scene was 1807 hours.

On entering the kitchen by the open door way adjacent to the family room, The Husband directed me to the rear of the kitchen on the southeast corner of the room.

Upon stepping to the doorway, I observed a pool of orange-beige fluid lying on the floor beside a shattered Simply Orange bottle.  There was juice splattered against the cupboards behind the broken bottle.  Droplets of liquid sprayed the counter across from the spill, and dotted the coffee maker above the counter, suggesting that juice had fallen from a considerable height.  The juice bottle fragments had been disturbed.  There was a drag pattern of liquid in the direction of the garbage can.  An area of splatter also covered the lid of the garbage can.  Droplets of juice fell to the foot lever of the trash receptacle.   Amid the floor tiles were clearly visible bare, foot tracks.  Next to these tracks were two, small droplets of what appeared to be blood.

Photographs of the scene were taken from numerous angles, both iPhone and Sony digital 640 by The Mamma, and The Papa took Flip video camera coverage of the scene.

The suspects stood at the boundary of the kitchen.  None of the children spoke to the others while the investigation was underway.  All were dressed in normal street clothes.  Only the Middle Girl was bare

PAGE 1 OF 2

THE DEPARTMENT OF Child Rearing and Correction Department

SUPPLEMENTARY REPORT

CASE FILE # 16-23-04 PAGE # 2
Scene:  Kitchen DATE:  10/14/10
OFFENSE:  DOMESTIC DISORDER SUSPECT: MINOR CHILD/REN

foot while the others all wore soccer socks.  She stood silently with both hands inside the front pocket of her hoody.

Observed also at the scene was an empty paper towel tube lying on top of the refuse in the trash can.  The paper towels in the can were sodden with orange liquid and sprinkled with broken pieces of glass.

The crime scene was further searched by The Papa.  Cookies and Cream Pop-Tarts crumbs were found on the kitchen table, roughly matching the nibble patterns of a clandestine snack attack.

The suspects were known to purloin forbidden after-school snacks.  All had incidents of such infractions on their records, except The Baby.

Evidence recovered was bagged and tagged.  The table was wiped cleaned.

The family assembled around the table to discuss the incident.  The house, generally neat in appearance had clearly been violated by intruding snackers.  It was difficult to initially determine if one child had acted alone, or in the company of a gang.

After a candid family meeting, The Mamma and her children carefully cleaned the scene.  Safety protocols and appropriate notification pyramids were reviewed.

The guilty party was treated for a minor cut of the right index finger at the scene, and was then sentenced to no dessert or computer for a week.

PAGE 2 OF 2                                       INVESTIGATING PARENT: The Mamma



THE DEPARTMENT OF Child Rearing and Correction Department

SUPPLEMENTARY REPORT

CASE FILE # 16-23-04                                                                                       PAGE # 1

Scene:  Kitchen                                                                                                 DATE:  10/14/10

OFFENSE:  DOMESTIC DISORDER                                                               SUSPECT:  MINOR CHILD/REN

On 10-14-10, shortly before 6:00 p.m., I was notified by The Husband dispatcher, Father of Four, Department of Child Rearing and Correction Department, of an incident of vandalism in the kitchen of our residence.  The Husband called me from the basement to state that a disturbance had been found in the first room south of the garage of our family residence.  The Husband said that the scene was found disturbed upon his attempt to enter to get a cold beer from the ‘frig.  The Husband alleged that when he entered the kitchen to approach the Kitchen Aid refrigerator, he noticed the disturbance.  He asserted that he immediately left the scene and sealed it until I could be contacted.   He left The Boy to guard the scene while he made the necessary communications.

Upon receipt of The Husband’s report, I advised The Middle Girl to notify The Oldest Girl and The Baby regarding the situation.  The children immediately walked down the steps and reported to the scene, arriving shortly after I did.  My arrival on the scene was 1807 hours.

On entering the kitchen by the open door way adjacent to the family room, The Husband directed me to the rear of the kitchen on the southeast corner of the room.

Upon stepping to the doorway, I observed a pool of orange-beige fluid lying on the floor beside a shattered Simply Orange bottle.  There was juice splattered against the cupboards behind the broken bottle.  Droplets of liquid spayed the counter across from the spill, and dotted the coffee maker above the counter, suggesting that juice had fallen from a considerable height.  The juice bottle fragments had been disturbed.  There was a drag pattern of liquid in the direction of the garbage can.  An area of splatter also covered the lid of the garbage can.  Droplets of juice fell to the foot lever of the trash receptacle.   Amid the floor tiles were clearly visible bare, foot tracks.  Next to these tracks were two, small droplets of what appeared to be blood.

Photographs of the scene were taken from numerous angles, both i-pod and Sony digital 640 by The Mamma, and The Papa took flip video camera coverage of the scene.

The suspects stood at the boundary of the kitchen.  None of the children spoke to the others while the investigation was underway.  All were dressed in normal street clothes.  Only the Middle Girl was bare

PAGE 1 OF 2

foot while the others all wore soccer socks.  She stood silently with both hands inside the front pocket of her hoody.

Observed also at the scene was an empty paper towel tube lying on top of the refuse in the trash can.  The paper towels in the can were sodden with orange liquid and sprinkled with broken pieces of glass.

The crime scene was further searched by The Papa.  Cookies and Cream POPtart crumbs were found on the kitchen table, roughly matching the nibble patterns of a clandestine snack attack.

The suspects were known to purloin forbidden after-school snacks.  All had incidents of such infractions on their records, except The Baby.

Evidence recovered was bagged and tagged.  The table was wiped cleaned.

The family assembled around the table to discuss the incident.  The house, generally neat in appearance had clearly been violated by intruding snackers.  It was difficult to initially determine if one child had acted alone, or in the company of a gang.

After a candid family meeting, The Mamma and her children carefully cleaned the scene.  Safety protocols and appropriate notification pyramids were reviewed.

The guilty party was treated for a minor cut of the right index finger at the scene, and was then sentenced to no dessert or computer for a week.

PAGE 2 OF 2                                                                                       INVESTIGATING PARENT: The Mamma

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