Monday, July 18, 2011

Virtual Reality

In 15 days, the teenager has sent and received...wait for it...4,081 text messages.  Holy crap, Cole.  That is an average of 272 per day.  I expect it'll calm down when the novelty wears off a little but WOW.  That's a lot of texting.  (He totally cracked up when I told him, by the way.  I'm guessing we'll add to that number when he texts his friends that information.)

When I posted the phone contract, I had a good friend ask me if I thought I was invading his privacy by reading his text messages.  She said, "would you read his diary?"  I thought about it briefly before I responded that it's not apples to apples.  What the teenager says in public...via text message or facebook is just that: public.  Therefore, it impacts his reputation and it impacts other people.  His diary would be for his eyes only, and wouldn't impact someone else directly.  I do not ever want to say, "I had no idea my kid was..."

I have checked his phone a couple times.  He always hands it over willingly.  He says, "Don't worry.  I told my friends I'm not allowed to swear."  SUPER.  Nice.  Good job, Cole.  It's vanilla. Nothing to worry about.  I don't read for content (trust me, it's almost all nonsense!), but for red flags.  If knowing I'm "peering over his shoulder" makes him think twice about behaving inappropriately, so be it.

When we were teenagers (a hundred years ago), I have no doubt that the boys sat around the fire or in someones bedroom on Friday nights and tried on bad words.  They talked about girls, and practiced swearing.  BUT that was the primary extent of their opportunity.  Those moments.  Now, kids have 24/7 access to each other.  What is the consequence of that?  If they start using that language now, at that frequency, I'm pretty sure it becomes part of their vernacular.  No thank you.

And what's the consequence of having primarily virtual relationships?  Do you learn to communicate well?  Do you learn eye contact?  Do you know how to read body language?  I am worried about these things. Therefore, I will continue to make sure the teenager has real face time with his friends.  I will continue to talk to him about relationships and how to treat women.  In real life (in addition to via text).

It's complicated.  This is the first generation of kids who will have access to their social network at all times.  I do wonder what the result/benefits will be.  I read this article while getting a pedicure tonight, which mirrored a lot of my thoughts.  Take time read it if you're interested.

4,081.  Seriously.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

High School

I've only told a few people sporadically, but after a heartwrenching struggle to figure out what's best for him, we have decided that the teenager is going to high school here!  God bless his mother for putting his wishes before her own.  We could not be happier.  And you should be too.  Now I'll be able to share photos of his life in detail.  (Did I mention we're not supposed to tell him about this blog?  :))

Friday, July 15, 2011

Everything that Glitters

I have been getting some killer swag in the mail these days.  Everyone should have friends like me.
(And I should mail stuff more often.)

"I made a few cards just for me and decided that this one was clearly meant for you," she said. 
She's right.
(You can check out her whole beautiful line of cards here.)

I won a contest.  This is the last package of Kool-Aid.  I hope she sends more. 
But I owe her a bag of lollipops, so I'm guessing she won't.

I finally know what I'm going to do with this beauty.  She is so thoughtful.

I don't have a lot of stuff, but I'm wealthier than most in fantastic relationships.
My mail proves it.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Where there's a Will

Holy sweet mother.  That totally sucked.  But we now have legal, notarized last will and testament (and health care directives) for both of us.

We were fortunate enough to have been able to participate in the Wills for Heroes program. The attorney we worked with said that a will is most important for parents of minor children.  Us.  YOU?

But then, you have to think about who would raise your children were you no longer here.  ACK.  Torture!  NO ONE would raise them as well, love them as deeply as I do.  But I'm surrounded with lovely people in my life.  So I say to my executor, "You're going to have to do this for me.  Because what if I choose "Sam and Sally," But they're breeding rottweilers at the time of our death and have no spare room?  What if I choose, "Charlie and Charlene," but they're about to embark on a two-year Safari?  What if I choose Mark and Mary but they suddenly decide they're REPUBLICANS?!  (teehee)"  No one knows these circumstances. might be on the list.  (Don't worry...they're cute rugrats.)

Then the attorney gives me a list to write down my personal property and who I would like it to go to (who wants the captain's Dodge Stratus?!).  But I realize I have no valuable personal property.  Except my wedding ring.  THAT, my friends, is valuable.  Well, kind of. Sentimentally. 

But then I have to consider it.  I don't have a daughter, so to whom would it go?  The boys?  How about whoever gets married first is welcome to give it to his fiancĂ©e. If he doesn't want it, the next to be married can use it, or the third.  If no one wants it, screw 'em. 


When we were engaged, Cory's 1974 Camaro got stolen from his parking garage.  He was devastated.  So sad.  He loved that car.  (I'm exaggerating.  He had actually tried to sell it shortly before it was lifted.)  With the insurance money (LUCKY!), he was able to buy me my ring.  Every year, on our anniversary, I'm obligated to give it a little "vroom, vroom." 

So...Cory suggests the boys sell my ring and buy a retro Camaro.  Say WHAAA?  The only way I'll agree to that is if the boys buy it jointly and use it for weekend car time.  I wrote that in the will; don't try to mess with me.

At any rate, don't bury me with it.  That's a waste.

So that's settled.  One day of alternating weeping and planning. 
All for a document I will NEVER NEED. 


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Enger Tower

I cannot believe that in all the years I've visited Duluth, I never made it to Enger Tower.  I will likely never visit Duluth and not take the drive up there again.  It's beautiful, wonderful, magical.  This is the dedication to the tower.  Politically, I adore it.  We should celebrate our diversity on Independence Day and always!

Bert J. Enger
1964 - 1931

From common laborer to merchant prince, he demonstated in his own life that America is a land of opportunity for the immigrant, and that her civilization is enriched by his citizenship.

During his lifetime, by a very generous gift, he enabled the City of Duluth to acquire and develop the land adjacent to this tower as a park, children's playground, and golf course for the enjoyment of future generations, and at his death bequeathed two-thirds of his estate to the people of Duluth.  Hereabout, in his lifetime, he spent leisure hours in admiration of the panorama of Duluth and its environs, which you may see from this tower. 

In recognition of his devotion and benevolence, the people of Duluth elected him to their Hall of Fame, and will always cherish his memory.

Dedicated June 15, 1931,
By Olav, Crown Prince of Norway

Phone Contract

There are so many things I have to figure out about parenting a teenager.  Primarily, I have to figure out how to give him enough space to grow, but not enough that he'll do damage. 

We're super lucky, because the teenager didn't ask for a phone until he was 14. But once he decided he wanted one, he did NOT let up. So today, after a month of nagging, I took him to get one. He's thrilled.

He said that all of his friends have phones and they all have internet access on it (say WHAT?!).  So I told him his friends must have really nice, and wealthy parents.  Then I asked if any of them have to pay for their phones.  He said no, most of them are a reward for good grades.  I told him it's too bad he's such a crappy student (he finished eighth grade with a 3.7 GPA).  *sigh*  What to do?  Here's what we came up with.

He signed this before taking possession of his phone:


I, The Teenager, understand that the phone I have received does not belong to me, but is on loan from Dad and Leanne.  I can use it for my personal use so long as I follow these rules:

I agree to leave it on top of the fridge when I go to bed (or 11:00 p.m., whichever comes first), and I will retrieve it when I'm up for the day.

I agree that any of my parents can read my text messages at any time.

I agree that if any one of my parents asks me for my phone, I must relinquish it immediately, not after I 'clean it up.'

If any of my parents call or text me, I agree to respond within five minutes, unless I am at school or a participating in a school-related activity. 

I agree that any of my parents can take my phone away for any reason, at any time, as they see fit.

I agree to pay Dad and Leanne $10/month in cash, chores, or babysitting.  If I don't meet that financial requirement, I will forfeit my phone until that amount is met.

I recognize that this phone is for my personal use, but I will not use it inappropriately.  I will not use bad language, hurt another person, use inflammatory or derogatory language, or take inappropriate photos.  If I do these things, I risk losing my phone permanently.

I understand that my parents trust me, and will continue to do so until I give them a reason not to.

Signed by the teenager, July 3, 2011.

I gave a copy to his mom and patted myself on the back.  Nothing like making a contractual agreement with a 14-year-old.  I should have had it notarized.  Let the nagging cease.

Editing to add this link to another mom's post that I love that includes her contract.  For future reference.  :)