It Is Like Your Mom’s Facebook Page

It is Like Your Mom’s Facebook Page

“Can we go back to using Facebook for what it was originally for – looking up exes to see how fat they got?” Bill Maher

I heard two twenty-somethings having this conversation I didn’t hear the question but the answer was, “You know, it’s like your mom’s Facebook page.“

Hmmm. They couldn’t be talking about me. I’m totally cool and of course, you are too if you are reading this. I’m a parent and I love parents. But Facebook does broadcast our lives across the internet. Here are some things that might be bothering your kids.

1.The good news is that your parents have actually learned how to work a computer. As soon as we get on Facebook, our first friend request is always our kids. Your kids grudgingly accept because they have no choice. How do you not accept your mom’s friend request? Mine had rules. “Do not like or comment on my page.” Without those rules, I would have commented on every one of their Facebook statuses and retagged their photos on friends and relatives pages.  I would have left embarrassing personal messages for everyone to see. That is what they believe. Then we add their friends who also don’t really want to say yes but do.

2. There are parents who post way too many pictures of their kids. I get it. B being a parent is life-changing. I have flooded social media with many photos of L and K at different stages of their lives. Moving brought out a ton of the old photos. I have no ground to stand on. When I’m not posting my kids, I’m posting my dog because you know the internet needs more cute dog photos.

3.There is always an alarmist in every group of parents. Giving overprotective parents who don’t use Snopes a social media platform is a disaster of misinformation. “If you don’t post this legal copywrite, Facebook can steal your photos”. I mean don’t you think they can do that anyway?

4.Bragging on social media is part of the deal. “Look at my son’s cute Harvard sweatshirt.” “Really, fifth grade already?” “I love our family matching outfits.” “My son in law has another song out.”Everyone has a perfect life on social media.

5. And then there is commenting which could be worse than bragging. “Oh, your son or grandson is walking at one year. Mine walked at eight months. All kids are different.” “Where are you getting married? My daughter got married in Africa but everyone is different.” “Your daughter is a comedian, that is so cool. My son is working at Google and has great insurance’ ”Oh, you traveled to New Zealand alone? Here is a photo of me with my family in New Zealand.”

6. Facebook is a safe place for parents to vent their frustration about their kids. “Anyone else sitting in the emergency room at 11pm because their son decided to climb out the window?” “Here is a photo of my son driving cross-country on his motorbike.” “Here is my daughter crying on her first day of camp.” “Anyone else’s kid’s college dorm room look like this?”  We don’t want advice from other parents. We just want to vent about our kids who are also on social media. 

7. Hipster parents and ”cool” parents (There is no such thing’) Hipster parents are always showing photos without kids. Here we are in Cabo or Vegas, having dinner at Nobu, at yoga, training for the marathon etc. If they do pose with their kids, everyone is hipster dressed. Older parents are always doing something cool. Here I am at a rock concert, climbing a glacier, at Hamilton (everyone posts that photo-including me finall),, at the Vanity Fair party, in Hawaii, Paris or on Safari.

9. Perfect Facebook Families. They have beautiful houses, smiling faces and luxury cars. They travel all over the world together. Their children are flawless and brilliant at school or in their careers.  They either look like supermodels or haven’t aged or gained a pound since they had kids or became grandparents. They have beautiful family dinners and holidays.  No one has ever seen them fight or worry about anything.

The reality is once we started joining in large numbers, Facebook stopped being cool. I guess like your mom’s Facebook page is not a compliment. I believe that this has been the downfall of Facebook and why the teens and twenty-somethings have moved to Instagram, Twitter and Snap Chat. These are things that many of us have not mastered yet though I love Instagram. When you are in high school, parents are the least cool people imaginable.  We stay on Facebook because it is a comfort zone and most of our friends aren’t on Twitter or Snap Chat.  Parental embarrassment on Facebook is becoming less of an issue because everything is always changing on the internet. 

Fly safe,

JAZ

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Cleaning Out Stuff With My Kids In Los Angeles

Clearing Out Stuff With My Kids In Los Angeles

“I have learned that if you must leave a place that you have lived in and loved and where all your yesteryears are buried deep, leave it any way except a slow way, leave it the fastest way you can”. Beryl Markham

I  moved a lot  when i was growing up so I didn’t get to save things.  I wanted my kids to have their stuff and my house was big enough to save it.  Now I am moving and I can’t keep it anymore. I  really don’t want to let go of anything. I want to cram every exam paper, swimming trophy, essay,  dance tape, favorite stuffed animal and birthday invitation into a storage locker. I would know that it would be there if for some incomprehensible reason we would ever need it.

My kids started going through their stuff together. There were years and years of accumulation of things in this house. That is what happens when you have many closets.

“Here is your pile.” says my son.  I don’t need a pile. “It’s my college diploma, bar mitzvah stuff, first birthday invitations and all my baby pictures. Don’t you want  to keep that?“ I replied “Don’t you?” He said “I have no room for it so you keep it. Don’t you want memories of me?” Yes I think to myself.  I want to hold on to you both as kids forever. I want  very much to have all the pieces of our past.

He reads aloud his speech from when he ran for seventh grade president. “I remember that being a much better speech,” he said. The sorting continues.

“I need this, I’m keeping this, I can’t get rid of this, I must have this, oh wow look at this – all my Nintendo games. I have to get a Nintendo player.” His pile gets bigger and  bigger.

I once read that you are supposed to ask a question with each item. Does this bring me joy? If not, toss it. His reply is that ‘Maybe someone will make a documentary about me some day and they wont have any information about my past. We need to keep this stuff.”

My daughter finds something that belongs to him. “Here pass that to the ‘A Beautiful Mind’  pile” she says.”Look I found dad’s Bar Mitzvah invitation.” It was clearly something his mother had kept.  “Give it to me”, I say, “Are you going to give it to him?” “No.” I answer. They look horrified and snatch it back. I was going to save it for future grandchildren but I did not tell them that. 

My son starts taking pictures of things and posting to his friends. His friend replies “Great, send that to me in another ten years when you go through your boxes again.”

My daughter isn’t doing that much better. I start to pull out some of her discarded clothes to save for my god-daughter. “Why are you saving stuff for  her and not me?” “Did you want to save stuff? I ask.  “I didn’t know that we could. “Now she starts making a pile of things she wants to save and not take.

I pull out one coat I took when my mom died a few years ago. “Have you ever worn that coat?” she asks. She tries it on. “I would wear it today. You have never worn it.” I put it on. ”Uh, it looks like a bathrobe on you. It looks so much better on me. “ Now that is all true and probably why I have never worn it.  It is one of the few articles of clothing that  I took from my mom so it is hard for me to part with it. 

My daughter takes a lot of boxes out of the storage room and leaves them in the garage. Can’t we do this one by one I ask? I don’t want boxes all over. She says that she has to leave now. My son says quietly,“I agree with you but I’m not siding with you publicly against her.“

There are about twenty boxes unopened from our old house that no one has looked at in sixteen years. They are filled with their elementary school things. They carry all the pieces of my children that I was trying to hold onto. It was the same way I took things from my mom’s house after she died to hold on to her and her past. I realized that whatever was in those boxes, I hadn’t seen in all that time. I remembered their childhood without ever accessing the boxes. I didn’t need them and they probably don’t either. 

I know now that I will remember things or I won’t but I don’t need a storage locker filled with stuff. It is difficult to distinguish between possessions and memories.  The possessions do trigger the memories for me. The emotional cost of letting go of their childhood is high. These things connect me to a happier time in my life.

We are more than our  possessions.  Our memories are inside us and maybe writing my story is a way to remember. The most sentimental things aren’t things at all, but stories of the people and places we love, and how we spend our time.

Fly safe,

JAZ