The Sort of Hope Whose Son Is 17

Jan 5th will always be one of the most special days to me.

It is the day that I gave birth to my son, Nicholas Michael.

Last year, for his 16th birthday, I made him this video. It has taken me a whole year to figure out how to convert it from “just tv viewing” to other viewing. At the risk of someone complaining ” Well, there’s 12 minutes of my life I’ll never get back.” I do realize that videos like this are rarely appreciated by anyone other than the family involved. I enjoy viewing things like this for more than just face value. I like to watch the evolution of film. The evolution of photography, and of someone’s talent. I like to watch how a child evolves, too. I like to see how their friends have grown as well.  Sometimes, people just take things for what they are worth and forget to actually ‘look’ at them.

Anyway…

I’ve always said that my son is the sort of child that I could wake up at 2 am and he’d smile at me and say ” what do you need, mom?”  He’s truly my SONshine.  My constant source of strength. Nick is quiet, but he is funny.  He is a lot like his father in that way.  He is talented, smart and handsome. He is strong, but gentle. But don’t ask him to sing!

Nick will flash me his smile with his dimple and I feel like I want to hand him the world. ( If  only I could). He works hard. He has a goal and I admire his determination.

Nick was 4 when I got sick. He probably doesn’t even remember a healthy mom or the things we used to do together.  And that’s ok. We’ve done plenty of different things together since then. He’s also grown into a more compassionate, empathetic, understanding young man because of my condition. So in a way, I guess it’s not all a bad thing.

So, before I cry ( again),  Happy 17th birthday to the biggest and best surprise of my life.

The Progressive Sort of Hope

Let’s talk about Social Media.

I’m in a bit of a heated debate with someone right now about Social Media and children, specifically teens…

When I was pregnant with my now 16 year old son, I sold homepages to companies. Imagine if you will, a world not familiar with this thing called The Intenet. It was not quite 2 decades ago. These large companies I was calling to offer an internet presence to had never even heard of this thing called “The Internet”. Back then the only people with email addresses were college students, Libraries and some very large companies. I remember a collegue and close friend of mine trying to sell a home page to a very respected retailer when the CEO told her ” No one will ever buy anything over this thing called ‘the internet.” I’d imagine he would like to eat those words now. He probably didn’t have that title for very long, either.

Shortly (in relevant terms) after the Internet was born , Facebook was created. Then Twitter and things like Instagram, etc. New and fascinating pieces of Social Media are being born for this world to enjoy (or not) practically every day. Along with Social Media, come the ways to use that media. Laptops and Smart phones, iPods and iPads. I know my children, especially my daughter and her friends document practically every moment of their day with their Smartphone. Photos of her and her friends and their daily movements are plentiful. Heck, they even take pictures of their conversations!

My kids, who live in the same house, saying goodnight to each other. Natalia kept a screen shot of their conversation.

To that end, it is my contention that Social Media is here to stay. I take the stance that rather than deny kids access to things like the Internet  and it ‘s offerings ie: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc , it is our job as parents/adults to teach them how to handle such things. We need to teach them how to deal with the ramifications of their behavior on said sites and how to use them wisely.  It is our responsibility to teach them that whatever is posted today, will be there in their tomorrows.

I have come to learn that not everyone shares these views and some people close to me believe that it is better to shelter the children from these things. Lock them away, if you will. Deny them the right to use them. I fear that doing so will only harm the kids and make it worse for them once they reach the age that we are no longer in control of their actions. I feel as though behavior like that is as antiquated as the dial phone.  

Social media is a part of everything we do these days. We can order our dinners, select our new clothes, even turn on our lights, start our cars and control the environment of our homes all in an instant and all within one or two clicks of a mouse or swipe of a finger. I think that we are foolish to think that our children should not be involved in that world.

If someone bullies my child in the Social Media world, rather than yank my child from that world to shelter and protect them,  it should be my job to teach my child how to handle it. To give my child confidence and strength. To teach them what to do about it and provide them with the valuable lesson that bullying is never ok, whether it’s a spoken or a written word.

A big part of being a teen is pushing and testing limits. When we were teens I am fairly certain ( if failing memory serves) we cursed, we complained and we teased. The difference being,  it was probably in our best friend’s basement or in the school yard. It wasn’t visible for the world to see. Now, it’s available  for all of our “friends” to see AND to comment on 24/7.  (Friending- a whole other blog I can’t wait to write…) I suppose that’s the incredibly big difference. We could shut the world off and go to sleep, safe in the comfort of our homes and away from the constant drama.  But our children can’t . It never goes away for them and it is up to us as parents to set their limits and to educate these children how to balance real/tangible life *and* their Social Medial lives that they live “in” their Smartphones.

How can we expect our children to evolve into successful adults unless we provide them with the experiences and tools that allow them to grow, to succeed and yes, to feel hurt and also to fail?  (The real world is not always a positive place, as much as we wish it were so.) Maybe once upon a time those experiences happened on a playground, but now those life lessons sometime happen in a laptop or on a Smartphone. These devices are every bit as much a part of their world now, too. Rather than shelter them from it, I want to allow my children every opportunity to learn from these new worlds that I can.  And just as their world around them is changing so,  I believe, are the roles of  their parents.

I feel as though denying our children access to these amazing ever evolving things like Social Media and Smartphones would be denying them , as well as ourselves access to the  future and I for one , am too excited about the future to do that.

Your thoughts?

This pics from May of 09. Couldn’t find any other pics of me or the children on the computer. Best I could do. I need to take some random pics for this blogging thing, it would seem.

The Shady Maple-d Sort of Hope

**16 Days til my Philadelphia Freedom!

Today marks one of my favorite days. It’s how the James Girls kick of the holiday season. Dawn breaks and Dad throws us all in the car. We then head to the place where cholesterol parties and desserts dance, otherwise known as The Shady Maple Smorgasbord.

Dad is the only male allowed and girls may only join provided they are of the James lineage and only under the stipulation that they have reached high school age, as it is often times a rated PG-13 ( at best) function. {*refer to an earlier blog entry about my obsession with balls. This obsession seems to just flourish around the holidays as balls are found around every corner and my sisters really feed into my obsession.} This year we welcomed my Natalia into the sisterhood.

The ride to Shady Maple is beautiful. It’s all country views. Cows, farms, green fields. Endless blue skies today.

Veteran’s Day was observed today for some schools today so it was a bit more crowded than our normal breakfasting/ shopping excursion. Mom seemed a bit disturbed by it but dad didn’t seem to mind. 

Little Sister Rachel>-> who will not be pleased that I posted this with Mom who shocked us all with this outlandish behavior. Mom is ever the lady.>–>

^Holly , the big sister with Dad. Holly is a poser. Dad, The Marine and proud Veteran, never stops eating long enough to partake of such shenanigans. Eating is serious business for a Marine. Many a time he has regaled us with the tales of having to eat maggots out of his helmet along with his food and therefore he is always just grateful for food in general. Daddy is delightful at dinner. 😀

During breakfast Holive entertained us all ( as usual) in the way that only Holly can. Which won’t be funny to anyone else so I won’t attempt to try to relive it. Suffice it to say,   Holly is fascinated by the most mundane little things and can make just about anything funny. Today it was a collapsible brush. Who knew such a cheap thing could provide such entertainment?

After we got our feed on, we headed to the gift shops to spend what my dad calls “all of our egg money” , which is dad speak for all the money we saved all year for this very day.

^ HOPE is the thing with feathers. ( Emily Dickinson fans ? )

Holly found a HOPE ornament with a ball in the O.  SCORE.  Posed in front of some fuzzy white and red balls for me, too!

.. and the winner of the strangest thing I saw all all day goes to this piece of blown glass poo… I mean slug. (Apologies to slugs everywhere).

We laugh, we eat, we shop.We laugh some more.  This close to my next treatment, it’s going to take me at least 3 days to recover from our excursion, but I don’t mind. Today not only signifies the beginning of the holiday season for me, it also reminds me how lucky I am. I’ve got sisters. Great, beautiful, kind sisters and I still have both my parents. Sadly, I don’t spend enough time with either of my sisters or my mom and dad, which is really quite a shame. But the time I do spend with them is always filled with laughter and love. And for that I truly grateful.

My fav jam from the ride! You gals “made my day”.  ❤