Friday, May 14, 2010

Exciting news, We've Moved!

I'm a dot com!
I'm moving over to!
My daughter, who's in PR told me that being a dot com is more "meaningful" than being a blogspot. Who knew? I'm sure Google has something to say about that. But I'm giving it a try. A dear friend is joining me, so our blog entries will be a little more frequent and she'll be chiming in on being a Mom of Gen Yers' topics (in her own voice) too.
We'll also be adding to the website... a "book" that we've been working on, on parenting these Gen Yers. You know what I've said, "once a mom, always a mom"! We're going to do that in installments, think "Great Expectations!"
Our website is still under construction, this learning curve has been pretty steep, but I have to say, the folks in customer service of these sites have been incredibly patient and helpful for us neophytes! Thank you and!
Some people ward off Alzheimer's with Bridge and Soduko, we're warding it off learning social media, setting up blogs and websites! It's fun!
So please check us out at:

Monday, April 26, 2010


What are MFO's? Mandatory Family Obligations.
A friend of mine coined the term years ago and I instantly adopted it! "Imitation is indeed the greatest form of flattery!"
MFO's are those non negotiable things that a kid has to do when being a member of your family. Everyone's MFO's vary from family to family, here are some of ours:
Learning to swim
Learning to ski in ski school (ski school, that's the key) through middle school!
Learning to sail / boat handling
Eating dinner with the family (you parents of teens know what I'm talking about)
Going on family vacations (another familiar tune amongst teens' parents)
Taking and passing the American Red Cross Babysitting course... (whether or not your kid ever babysits for others, it's a great thing for each child to know when they are left home alone or watching little brothers or sisters.)

As your kids are growing up, just think about some of the struggles you have, getting your child to do something. The power of an MFO is that there's no argument. Once you state this is an MFO, that's it. The importance is how you implement it and then your follow through. No wavering, parents, stick to your guns! We used MFO's sparingly, more bang for the buck.

We live on the coast, water is everywhere and when our kids were growing up we lived in California and pools were everywhere... learning to swim was non negotiable. Did we have tears, absolutely. But once over the hump, swimmers!

We ski and we wanted our kids to learn to ski so we could vacation as a family and participate in something together. There aren't many sports where you can do that. And going to ski school is the only way. They're with their peers, they learn the correct way, not Mom's Stein Erickson's method, and they actually have fun, meaning they want to get back out there the next day or the next time. Now our kids can tackle anything, with anybody, and they have a ball.

Boating skills? Since we do live on the coast, there are many times when there's an invitation to go sailing or boating and to have knowledge and (some) skill means another invitation because you're helpful, not to mention it's much more fun.

The eating together as a family is a tried and true MFO, always! There were definitely times when it became a real challenge with sports and extracurriculars, but MFO dinners were ever present at least twice a week.

MFO vacations, I've never understood those family friends that gave their kids the option of whether or not they wanted to join the family on a trip to wherever. It was always an MFO in our household.

And as for the American Red Cross' Babysitting course,I highly recommend it for any 11-15 year old. It gives your kid a real self confidence in knowing how to handle an emergency and feeling more comfortable if left on their own or in charge of younger kids. Not to mention Mom's piece of mind.

Now that the kids are older and living on their own in college or really on their own, it's harder to use the MFO moniker, but I'll confess, though I probably didn't have to, I did resurrect it for a wedding not long ago.
MFO gets their attention and they realize and understand the importance of something. It's been a very useful tool over the years.
What are some of your family's MFO's?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Roommates after college

Now, let's talk about roommates after college.
Similar questions as when they were in college, but there's a real difference, the kids may be moving to a city where they don't have any bffs or anyone they really know. Your Gen Yer may be making the decision to live in a particular city because of the roommate, they're bffs, and they've agreed on a city together, ya never know? The other important thing to note is that you may not hear much about this at all, until after the fact. After all, they are over 21. But you can inquire because you care or are curious (and you are the mother). But again, ratchet it back parents! This is their life, not yours. Besides, your kids now have had real roommate experiences (and oh btw, much more recently than you have). They know what they're looking for, what they can and can't do as far as what / who they can live with. Trust them.

One of our son's had a great idea and posted his move on Facebook, saying he was moving to Boston and looking for a roommate. Shortly thereafter a mutual friend from college connected him to a buddy of his from high school that was moving to Boston too and voila! It worked out great, that six degrees of separation thing is a good thing! I, as the Mom, really liked the whole idea much better than a random Craigslist listing, because there's comfort in knowing who someone's "people" are. :) Spoken like a mother, I know. Another son has FB messaged friends from high school that attend college in Denver, looking for a sublet situation for the summer. I thought that was a good idea too. If your student is looking for summer housing in a city because of work/internship, suggest they look into University housing. Our daughter did this. FYI: NYU offers summer housing to students even for non NYU students, they just have to prove they're a student somewhere (NYU students have first priority), so it's worth checking to see if other universities offer this. In this housing situation it was much like freshman year, you don't know who they're going to room you with. It's only a summer though, right?

What about a roommate of the opposite sex?
Are they a friend.... or more? Is this "living together?"
I've heard of and know of a lot of different situations, so it really depends. Not that as the Mom you have much say,but hey, you're asking. If it's a "just friends" scenario, then questions that come up are:
Are you going to be able to relax comfortably, ie., wear your jammies on a Sunday morning while reading the NYT? Are you comfortable sharing a bathroom? Now you'll probably get the eye-roll or the equivalent look that we gave our parents, that "you're such a square"-look. And you may be asking these questions only if you have a daughter (sexist, I know), but ask. It's worth throwing out there, so you know your Gen Y kid at least thinks about it.

As for the "living together" scenario.
It's a big commitment. And I think the pivotal word in that sentence is "commitment." They're not a "roommate". It's more than that, it's very different. Some of you may be asking, "why don't they get married?" and others are saying: "living together is a good idea. How else are you going to know if this person is "the one."
It's a personal discussion, one that needs to happen between the couple and if either one of them chooses to speak to their parents about it, then as parents, we listen, we offer advice if asked, we ask questions that they may or may not have thought of, (going right for the jugular) ie., "what happens if it doesn't work out? How do you separate?" And you may get a response like: "We're certainly hoping it DOES work out, but if it doesn't, it's really no different than when you move out from a roommate that is your bff and you lived with them for a few years." And you think and may even say, "not exactly. I'm just hoping you've thought this through and that it all works out." And then you smile and think, this is their life, their decision. All I want for them is to be happy and happy with their choices and decisions... and so far, they sure seem to be.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Roommates after freshman year of college

Let's talk about roommates. Remember freshman year? Think back. Most colleges and universities assign freshman roomies. I blogged about it last Spring. Well, now I'm talking about roommates after freshman year and beyond. Your Gen Y kid gets to choose.* Last week a friend of mine shared that her son called to just bounce some thoughts off her about what he was thinking.

*Please note: This is not a time to insert yourself as a parent! This is their choice and decision. But if asked, well then. Otherwise just be a sounding board!

It made me think about those times when my kids called and did the same:
Do I live with just one person or
Do I live with three, four, or five?
Do I try to go for a single?
I really like these guys but they're all a bunch of slobs and I don't really want to live in a pig stye for a year.
I get along great with her, but she has a boyfriend and I really don't want to "live" with him too. Or
She has a boyfriend and I know since he lives off campus, she'll be over there most nights, so I will be virtually living by myself.
I know it'd be really fun to live with him, but I'm afraid it'll be too fun and I won't get anything done.
A couple of different guys have asked me to room with them and they're from totally different "groups," how do I say "yes," to one guy and "no thanks" to the other, because we can't all room together, it wouldn't work out.
I want to live in housing that has a kitchen, so I can cook my own meals, if I live with her I know I'll be the one always doing the dishes, what should I do?

Some of my throw back responses were along these lines:
Do you want to live on your own? Will you be lonely?
If you're thinking about more than one roommate, do you get your own room? If not, how are you guys going to decide who actually rooms with whom?
Are several girls too much drama? Are several boys too much like a frat? Is that a bad thing?
What about the boyfriend thing? The girlfriend thing? Really think about that. You may feel that it's a bonus to have a "single," but then again you may really want a roommate.
If there's a kitchen (or a private bathroom for the suite), how are you going to keep it clean? What are you going to do about food purchases? Your own separate shelves? Purchase together? What's mine is yours and yours is mine?
Things to think about.

Bottom line with roommates: Expectations should be vetted BEFORE moving in together. I think it's probably safe to believe that if people go into a roommate situation expecting that everyone is going to get along then most likely, they will.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Fronting the money, does that make sense?

Sometimes you have to learn from experience.

Here are some examples in the money category: Your Gen Y kid fronts the money for something and is told that they'll be paid back (by their friends). Well, not exactly:

1) Getting a storage unit for the summer. Your college student has got to move out of the dorm, move his/her stuff into a rental storage unit and it makes sense to go in on this unit with a few friends. The rental company requires payment in full for the three months, your kid takes care of it and his buddies say they'll pay him back. It takes months and months to collect after many very uncomfortable conversations, emails, etc.

2) Your kid is on a club sports team. He volunteers to help organize a BBQ after the game with the other team. He heads to Costco and makes all of the purchases, paying for the shopping spree himself. He's already communicated with his teammates that everyone needs to chip in X dollars. Collecting the money from each team member proves to be a real challenge. He's left holding the bag to the tune of a few hundred dollars!

3) Your college kid puts the money down to secure an apartment for next year's housing. He's not flush with cash, so he's counting on being reimbursed for half by his future roommate right away. They talked about this upfront. The roommate doesn't ever get around to paying him back.

Needless to say, each of these scenarios leaves a person feeling:
disappointed in people
upset with oneself
irritated that they volunteered/signed up to be the "front guy"
questioning one's own judgement
feeling differently about someone that you thought was your friend
and not to mention: out the money!

In a word: Lousy.

What are some of the learnings?
And.... Where does Mom come in? What kind of advice do you give or do you?
Well, I listened, I chimed in when asked (OK, maybe even if I wasn't asked), but I think I've learned through the years and my kids that listening and then "couching" your comments in a way so that your kid feels like you're bouncing ideas around....much more effective, much much! So...
The "tough" advice and obvious: Without the money upfront from everyone, there's no BBQ, no storage unit, no.... whatever.
If that's not an option and the money's been spent, one of my kids did this:
First, asked repeatedly for the money he was owed. When that got more and more irritating and uncomfortable, then he sent out an email to everyone (bulk, so all could see) who paid + owed money and specifically highlighted those that have paid. That got a few more to pay up. And for that last couple of stubborn people that just would not pay him back, he sent an email (again copying everyone) letting everyone know that a letter was going to go home to the parents about the money owed to their son's college friend. This worked (before the letters went out). But I'll tell you, it was months and months before he was fully reimbursed and it certainly left a sour taste in his mouth.
As for the BBQ? That was a very expensive lesson. (My son didn't choose to listen to Mom, but in his defense he may not have chosen to share with his mother until after the fact and he sure didn't want to "hear it", at that point.)
And the apartment? Haggled over the first and last month deposit, the roommate had to anti up more to make up for the IOU. Mom's advice.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Don't do anything rash!

"I'm thinking about swooping in on my college kid and yanking him out of school!"

"What? Are you kidding? Calm down. Don't do anything you're going to regret."

That's how a handful of conversations have gone with friends over the last couple of years!

Sound crazy?

Not really. Here are some of the various scenarios (all altered a bit, for obvious reasons):

1) He's come home from college for Spring Break and much like Christmas, he's sleeping in until noon, not very helpful, not very communicative, seems totally unmotivated to do...much of anything. Now, come to think of it, as a parent, I haven't seen any grades all year...what the heck is he doing at college? This is a really expensive 'sleep tank,' if that's what he's doing???

2) The conversations with my daughter have become less and less. The texts, on her end, consist of one word responses. When I do talk to her, she's disrespectful, busy telling me that she's an adult, doesn't have to do what I say...

3) My daughter isn't communicating with either parent, virtually at all. Doesn't respond to texts or emails. There've been all kinds of flags. I'm worried, really worried.

4) College seems like a "big drink'em up." As a parent, I don't sense he's going to any classes, all it sounds like he's doing is partying. His Facebook page is full of pictures with red tumblers! Every time I call him, I seem to be waking him up.

5) There's been a death in my child's world. She sounds very down. She seems to find it hard to go to do anything.

OK, the line of first defense is the college. As a parent, call the Dean of Students. A girlfriend of mine was the Dean of Students at a small liberal arts college and she used to say her title was "Dean of "Parents."
These people are there to help! Talk to them! But here's the kicker, you have to be open and honest with this person. Lay your cards out on the table, whatever they are. They can't help if they don't know the real picture. They are going to be able to:
A) Suggest people you and/or your child should talk to. Resources.
B) Check in with your student, either directly or through their RA.
C) Make recommendations on various courses of action. (ie., notifying professors, etc.)
D) Rest your (and your student's) mind at ease.
and most importantly,
E) Help you sort things out from a distance so you can take the appropriate action or not take any action.

Regardless of what parents are told today about letting their kids go, you know your kid best and you need to recognize the flags and then decide whether or not you should intervene. But don't do anything rash. Often times things work themselves out, but sometimes not without some parental intervention.

I have a friend that did drive down to college X, found their son in the rack, accessed the situation, had a conversation with the Dean of Students, and everyone decided that a semester off was best. During that semester he had a job, responsibilities and guess what? He turned it around! It took more than one semester, but he did. Another friend, saw the "flags," flew out to get a visual of her daughter, realized that her daughter's health was in serious jeopardy and intervened with the help of the college.

We've all heard versions of these stories.
Some takeaways I've learned:
1) When your child (Gen Yer) signs up for classes when they first get accepted, be SURE they check the box to have their grades come home to you. Just because you're paying the bill does NOT mean you're privvy to anything! :)
Getting their grades helps you have somewhat of a handle of what's going on.
2) Get the telephone number of their roommate or good buddy or a significant other. You never know when you might need them.
3) Don't hesitate to call the college and speak to the Dean of Students (or someone like that).
As a CU Boulder spokesperson said, when my daughter was a freshman, "you have resources in your hometowns for you. We have resources here for your son or daughter. Please don't make your kid your "couch" and don't you try to be theirs. Call us if you need us to help direct your student to those resources." Good advice.
4) Don't jump in the car or board a plane. Have a conversation with your kid, first, if that gets you nowhere and your flags are still up or hoisted even higher, then call the Dean of Students to get some advice.

Any of this sound familiar?
What are your takeaways?
What's your advice?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Spring Break!

It's that time of year again! Has anyone else noticed that colleges seem to have juggled the weeks in such a way that Spring break doesn't fall in the same week for everybody. Could it be that they've coordinated calenders and actually communicated that it's not such a good idea to have all breaks fall during the same week? (Judging from times gone by, Ft. Lauderdale and Cancun barely survived. MTV made reality shows about this week.)
Now here's the question: who funds Spring Break? Do you parents, do you Gen Yers? Is there a shared expense? Seems to me that there's this expectation that has evolved over time that senior year of college there's a "senior trip." Is that a graduation present? Assuming they graduate. Or is it "on them." AND if it is on them, are you, Mom and Dad, willing to let go of control over this vacation? You know what I mean,

the list of questions:
Who's going?
Where are you staying?
How are you getting there?
How many in a room?
Is it a hotel, a condominium, a house?
Is it owned by parents of friends? Grandparents?
Did you find it on Craigslist?
Did you use a travel agent?
Do you need any shots?

And then the comments:
(In no particular order)
Bring Pepto Bismol.
Don't drink the water.
Be sure you have cash.
Be sure you keep your passport on you at all times.
Don't take rides from strangers.
Use the buddy system.
Bring your hotel key (those plastic cards) home with you and destroy it! You know it has all your personal information on it, including your credit card info.
Don't drink too much.
Bring sunscreen.... wear sunscreen.
Mind your P's & Q's, I have zero interest in receiving a phone call from the authorities about you.

Let's be honest, whether you pay, supplement or not you're going to ask those questions and make those comments regardless. We just can't help ourselves! We're your parents!

And I'm afraid that continues well into your 20's. Our 26 year old has just left for a little R&R in Florida, a vacation from work. I covered the questions with her months ago. I even made many of the comments. She humored her mother and responded, she even texted me when she landed safely and I'm imagining her on the beach, soaking in some rays... and thinking about Spring Breaks I had.... those were the days!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Once a Mom Always a Mom

I had an interesting conversation with my neighbors the other day. They're in their 80's have raised four kids, have 9 grand children. Mrs. asked me "how's the book on parenting grown kids coming?" I replied, "we've got it written," or "we've got quite a bit of it done, we just need to hear what others' think." She stopped and then said, "you realize that once you're a mom you're always a mom. It's a lifetime vocation. Well, at least until you're about 79."
"79?" I asked.
And she explained that at about 79 the roles tend to shift and change or "at least you kids seem to think they ought to."
We went on to have an interesting conversation about how throughout each stage of life: school, real world, jobs, marriage, birth, kids', their schooling, their real world's, their jobs..." (you see a trend?) That with each stage comes a new set of questions, of comments, of consultation and advice. As parents, your "kids" are calling with their thoughts and questions, seeking your consult or advice, but somewhere along the way, 79 in this example, kids decide that they need to play a new role, more of a parental role.
I know in my life, with the sudden passing of my Mom at the age of 77, she was still very much my Mom. I hadn't done the role reversal, none of us had. I think back though and I think she was hoping we might have taken on some more responsibility, help lighten her load, but we didn't bite. Now my Dad shows no sign or interest in having his load lightened or responsibilities shift. But I do hear in some of my siblings' conversations a slight shift in tone....a "suggestion" that maybe it's time to have someone else take care of some things....

Back to my neighbors, because it's of course much easier to have this discussion with others than with your own immediate family...

I asked them if they minded the roles shifting? Mrs. responded with a smile and "we just ignore them." Mr. smiled.
I of course, holding onto the "Mom thing" asked if they really have stopped feeling like a parent or being a parent? Mrs. responded, "I told you, once a Mom always a Mom... and a grandmom, now that's the best!"

One thing at a time! :)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Celebrating a Birthday Away from Home

We've all been there, away from home, having a birthday, but as a parent of four grown kids who all are away from home celebrating birthdays, it's proving to be more of a challenge than it used to be!
"Check your PO Box!"
Why is it that college kids don't check their PO Boxes?
"Why should I? I never get any mail."
Kids who've graduated, figure out very quickly that they better check the mail because good stuff, like bills are sent that way. I know, not for long, or not if they check that box to have it sent electronically, but for the most part, at least for now, snail mail.

Not only is not checking the PO Box a challenge, but then there's the big question of what do you send? Is it better / easier just to send money or transfer money or tell them to buy themselves something and you'll pay them back... That's assuming they have the do-re-mi to make the purchase up front, not likely.

Do you send them an electronic birthday card? Is that where you tell them that they'd better check their PO Box or that you've sent something UPS or FedEx to whereever it's supposed to be sent at their college, (ie., their dorm).

Or if they've graduated and living in a city, can you send something UPS or FedEx and not worry. Is there a doorman? Or a place that takes their packages safely? Is it better to send stuff to their work address? All of this is a challenge. What do you do?

Colleges make it a little easier with their "Parents' Clubs" that offer a cake delivery with balloons to the dorm room. Are kids horrified by that, embarrassed or are they secretly thrilled that you remembered and went to the trouble of ordering that?

Do you send a big box filled with stuff? I've got friends that basically unload Hallmark into a box: paper plates, balloons, streamers, party hats... It's a party in a box! As for the cake, it's delivered by a nice "Mom volunteer". The box also contains an article of clothing, maybe a coffee mug from the local store, so they don't forget "home", maybe some fun earrings or makeup or a local team T shirt just so they don't forget their old allegiance!!

It's a dilemma!
You want them to know that you're thinking of them, after all, you were there all those years ago! Whose birthday is it anyway? I mean really! :) You used to make such a production out of their birthdays when they were little: clowns, excursions, inflatable trampolines... all of their nearest and dearest came, OK OUR nearest and was a scene! And now? How do you just stop? And then to make things more complicated, what you do for one you sure as heck better do for the other, or at least something comparable, because if you don't think they notice or compare notes, you're sorely mistaken. Right guys?

Maybe you enlist the help of a friend, a significant other? Maybe you just send a check? Do you make a big deal or a bigger deal out of the milestone birthdays? 21? Is 25 a milestone? I think so, I'm not sure why, but I do. If you're hundreds or thousands of miles away do you rely on crossing your fingers and hoping one of their friends comes through and commemorates the day or do you actively engage and ask them to rally on your behalf for your kid? Maybe one of their friends or siblings or significant other has taken care of the celebration on their own with no engagement from the mother, now that's a milestone! Thanks girls!

Why am I even thinking about this? Today is our youngest's birthday. No more teenagers in our family. What did I do to commemorate the day? I used Facebook and texting, I even uploaded a photo to HIS Facebook page (that took a few minutes to figure out how to do), I called and left a message on his phone... and a few days ago I sent a package with a few assorted items, nope no party in a box, but definitely a couple of "heartstring" reminders of where he's from AND I told him to go to his PO Box. (Btw, when he did, there was a package from Valentine's Day that I'd sent....that was weeks ago!!! argh!) And finally, one of those nice "Mom volunteers" will be stopping by his fraternity with a cake today/tonight. I think he's going to be mortified...but secretly pleased that his Mom remembered him. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Leap of Faith

It takes a leap of faith when you get the phone call and your child says:
"Mom, I'm quitting my job...."
"Mom, I've QUIT my job...."
"Mom, I'm making a move to another company.... it's smaller, more entrepreneurial...."
"Mom, I'm starting my own business..."
"Mom, I've got an idea for a business, so I'm quitting my current job to work on it...."

I'm suggesting that, as the recipient of said calls, you have to have faith in your kid and that hopefully you've helped lay a foundation where they make good, sound decisions... that they're not chucking caution to the wind, that they've thought this through, that they've still got health insurance, COBRA, something! That they've figured out how they're going to pay their rent? Eat? AND that they've ideally NOT quit their job, until you've had a good vetting conversation....

These Gen Y kids are adults, they're making decisions on their own every day... that's what we want, right?! They're becoming more and more independent. Arguably, they are independent! At least if you ask them, they are. Again, that's the goal, right?

Here's a suggestion: IF you suspect that you may have a kid that's thinking in any of the above directions; rather than wait: don't close your eyes, cross your fingers, pray,... whatever,... that this will all go away or that they'll "come to their senses" and keep their job, especially in this economy... don't do it! Don't wait, have a conversation. Bring it up. Get them to talk about it, think out loud with you!... they just may surprise you. They actually may have thought their decision through and they just may have a plan!

This is my thinking, our thinking: they're young, no mortgage to pay, no mouths to feed (other than their own)...when else is a good time? When will they take a chance / a risk, and try something new, especially if it's their own idea?

OK, I have to admit, this took some time to get to this point, "risk-adverse-mother-that-I-am". I know to some, it sounds good, and to some of you, you're probably thinking, "has she lost her mind????" "I would never behave like this as a parent!" "Take control! Tell your kid they can't quit!" And some of you Gen Yers reading this may be thinking: "I WISH I could quit and start a business!" "I have loans to pay from school" "my parents would kill me!" "There's no way!"

First of all, good luck to you parents who try to "take control." Let me know how that goes. Second, though I'm incredibly risk adverse, especially when it comes to my family, if there's a good, well thought out plan (more than a germ of an idea) and you sense your child's conviction, I mean, what the heck? You've picked them up when they've fallen before, who says you won't pick them up again. This time the pick up may have conditions or a timeline or may come a little later... but let's be real...

The process itself of researching, budgeting, figuring out how to start your own business or going with a start's all a very steep learning curve, but incredibly worthwhile! If they get "hungry" enough, either you'll hear from them (or perhaps, see them) or it will force them to move in a different direction or make a different decision or decide to put together Plan B (maybe graduate school?) or network a little more or market a little differently or switch up their selling technique... but is any of this a real negative? Really?

Have a little faith!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Broken Hearts

Broken hearts. Tough. Seems like a good topic since we're surrounded by hearts this time of year.
I'm not talking about your heart, I'm talking about your kid's heart, and you may or may not know that it's been broken. We all go through it, it's part of that "life experience" thing, but just like so many other aspects of being a parent ... you wish your kid didn't have to go through the pain.

Well they do.

Now the questions that arise as a parent (assuming you know) are:
What do you say?
What kind of advice can you give?
Do they WANT your advice?
Is this a time to share one of your broken heart stories?
Do you jump in the car and "drive to the rescue?"
Does there need to be an intervention?
Is that person you, to be doing the intervening? A roommate? A good buddy?

Well there are several different scenarios I've heard about: from jumping on a plane and "flying to the rescue!" not doing anything but listening,... to calling a good buddy and asking if they'd check in on the broken hearted,... to ignoring the situation and pretending it's not happening to your kid (now that's a good parent)...

I think as their Mom (or Dad) you need to gage your own child...listen for those various flags or a girlfriend shared with me, "I was super concerned about the spiral downward, he sounded so bummed out, I couldn't just sit back and watch and wait, I had to get a visual, I didn't want him to do anything drastic!" FYI: She and Dad went to the big city, got a visual, helped their son move (now that's a whole new entry, living together!) did some major cheerleading, told their tales, suggested strategies that their son might use to keep moving forward, suggested activities to get involved with after work, exercising, etc. And now it's all good.

As for other scenarios, it may be more of a bruised ego than an actual broken heart, but I must confess, sometimes it's really hard to tell the difference at the time.

I know some of you are thinking to yourself, butt out, tell your kid "you're sorry it didn't work out" and that's it. Move on! Maybe so.

What do you think?

My poor kids have heard my tales of whoa. I'm not sure that's a good or bad thing, but it seemed like the right thing to do at the time?!? Why let my kids think that I have no idea how they may or may not be feeling, right? Emapthy's a good thing.

The other thing you may be thinking, is tell your kid "to get back on the horse," (sorry) "to get back out there..."
"no groveling!"
"no begging to be taken back!"
"this too shall pass"
This is always a fave....NOT!
"there are other fish in the sea!" those! :)

In my experience, broken hearts mend and you learn from them! Hopefully.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sick without your mother

A phone call or a text, "Mom, I'm not feeling well. My throat is killing me, my stomach aches like crazy...I got hit in the head and I feel nauseous..." Does this resonate? It's flu season and even if it wasn't, it doesn't matter. Unfortunately, this is life! But, here in lies the challenge as a parent: They're at college or living on their own somewhere and you aren't there to evaluate the situation yourself.

So you drill them with questions: Do you have a fever? What hurts? Do you have a rash? Could it be something you ate? What are your symptoms? ...

If need be, you've convinced them to go to their school's clinic, their doctor, or the Emergency Room. Well, once there, things can get "interesting":

They've told you that's where they are, but guess what? There's no cell service in a hospital, you know that they headed there or were actually there, but after that, it's the great abyss. You might not hear anything for hours! As one girlfriend said to me, "I of course, was going to every dark corner in my mind, imagining the worst." All you want is to know how your kid is? What's the prognosis? Diagnosis? And the next steps?

They're also considered adults, 18 and over, so it's difficult to get any information. Here are some thoughts and suggestions that I've learned along the way. Of course nothing is fool proof and I'm sure you have some thoughts and ideas too.

* Get the name and phone number of their roommate, so if you need information about your kid, they are a good place to start.
* Suggest to your sick child that they A) tell someone they're going to the ER B) Ideally have someone take them and stay with them, at least until they're all squared away.
* Be sure to get the name of the hospital, clinic or doctor they're going to. (When you're in a different city, you have no idea where or who). Just in case you need to start sleuthing.
* If you're not getting any information, no communication with your kid, try calling the roommate or good friend that you HOPE went with them. Text them if all else fails.
* You don't have a phone number or email for a friend or roommate, but you have a first and last name: go to Facebook, go to "friends", go to "find friends," you can refine your search and add the college or state they're from and see if you can deduce which one of the names that matches is your child's friend. If you think you've got a match, then send them a message. Kids read their FB page, so they'll see it. Of course, all of this is if you don't have any contact info.
* Try calling the hospital, get connected to the ER, with luck you'll get a person on the phone that's a Mom. Pull the Mom-card. Tell them you're the Mom of someone who's there, you've heard nothing for 4 hours! You're concerned and would like to know that they're still alive. OK a tad dramatic, but you get the gist. You just may be pulling the Mom-card with a! She just may tell you something, gather information and call you back! It's worth a try.

If you want to be proactive: When your kid is filling out forms for college, there will be a place where they can give parents permission to receive grades, be informed about emergency-like situations... encourage your child to check the box "yes." That helps. Also, when visiting your kid and you're introduced to friends and roommates, write down names, phone numbers and/or emails. You never know when you might need them. (That contact information can come in handy for birthdays too, if you want to surprise your child with a cake or something and you need the help of their roomie.) Arm your kid with information. If they're allergic to any medications, be sure they have that information, otherwise they rely on you and in an emergency that's not the best. Besides, if you're like me, who can keep track of who and what allergies, especially if they're not written down???

Being sick without your Mom can be lousy and as a Mom, having your kid sick away from you arguably can be lousier!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tech Support

Back in May I blogged about this technology stuff ... well, here we are, 8 months later and I'm going to give you an update. It seems fitting what with all of the press about Apple's iPad launch yesterday, folks are talking about tech...

Since May I have become an official Facebooker, I've gotten an iPhone (I'm a bit of an addict,) I'm blogging, I'm tweeting, I'm texting, I'm working on my Gchatting (there have been some complaints from my peanut gallery that I'm a lousy Gchatter. Can I help it if I leave Gmail open and walk away from my computer a lot, or if I'm not a terrific multi tasker when it comes to the computer!?) I have apps on my iPhone that I actually use...

How did this happen? Well, thank goodness for my tech support! My kids! They're part of the GenY generation, they've been brought up on this stuff!

My kids have been incredibly helpful getting me set up, communicating and sharing various apps I should take a look at, or websites I should check out...I was informed by Stanford that if I wanted to hear news about my upcoming reunion, I needed to join Facebook, because that's how they were going to communicate. My kids tend to text me now, more and more, just with a quick check in. I take loads of pictures, I used to leave them on my computer, just "sitting there", now I actually do something with them, whether it's on Facebook or making a book through Shutterfly or Apple. I took advantage of Apple's personal trainers, a really good deal and those guys are really helpful. I heeded my own advice about tutors and my kids, get the fight out of the kitchen, talk to a neutral party and get's good advice. Everyday things seem to be changing and between my kids, reading various newspapers and periodicals (which I'm doing more and more online or through the kindle) and my "personal trainer" I think I'm doing pretty well for a Baby Boomer. I really want to encourage you to get with the program. Don't dig in your heels on this. Ask your kids for help, hire someone, ask your friends, your work colleagues...just do it!

I must say, this is so much fun! And I am incredibly thankful to my tech support for their patience and help. I think they think they've created a monster though!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

It Takes a Village!

It sure does! That good ol' African proverb sums it right up. Our kids are figuring out more and more that they really need to depend on their "village" or network of family and friends in this rough economy.

I hear more and more stories from friends and associates about their 20 somethings (Gen Y) coming home. They're not coming home necessarily because they want to, it wasn't their first choice, but it's a "have to."

I'm also hearing more and more tales about the connections our friends are offering to our kids. It's good old fashioned networking! I blogged about connections back in June, but what's different now, or at least is more on my radar screen, is that the networking thing seems to have expanded.
What am I talking about? Well, the traditional kind of networking, finding out from your parents who they might know in a particular area of interest, to help introduce you to a potential job or internship...that still is happening and should be happening, but kids that have had jobs for a few years out of college and now find themselves unemployed, they're being forced to re-think things, maybe reinvent themselves.

Kids, ask questions. Sit down and talk to your parents or friends of your parents, or older siblings of your friends... and ask them about how they got to where they are? What was the road they traveled? If they had to do it over would they do the same thing? If not, how would they? What do they know about the qualifications needed in their field of work today? What do they look for? What kind of "credentials?"

I know my kids have had the good fortune of being able to speak to some really wonderful friends and they've learned a lot! They may or may not follow their advice or the same path, but it's been terrific experiences and it's created relationships of their own! (They may have gotten in the door because of my husband or me, but now they can pick up the phone themselves.) Over the years those relationships can prove to be invaluable. Who knows where they might be and what their circumstances will be. Not to mention, kids seem to listen a little sharper to others rather than their mother. :)

Monday, January 11, 2010

I'm a groupie!

Yep, it's true. I'm a groupie of our kids; these Gen Y-ers, these twenty somethings. I'm a little discriminating... but not much, I just love hearing about what these kids are up to, what they're doing with their lives, what choices they're making and if I have the opportunity, I try to follow them. I'm not talking about my own kids, that's a given, but I'm talking about the kids of my friends and family, kids that are friends of my kids...

Well, I have something fun to report...due to my groupie-esque tendency, I was invited to have a cameo in a webisode! A what? OK, I'll back up... a friend's son and daughter in law write and edit for a webisode called "Chaos Theory." When I heard about this I was intrigued and asked, "what the heck is a webisode?" Well for those of you parents or Boomers like me that are new to this term, it's a short episode of a collection of episodes that make up a storyline on the Internet, rather than TV. In this case, it's kind of like a mini soap opera based on the lives' of Gen Yers Jess Fletcher and her friends living in New York City...and all that that entails. Well, I started at the beginning with no expectations and found myself pushing the "next" arrow after each of the episodes. Suddenly, I was hooked. These segments are only about 7-10 minutes long and they're about a fragment of the day in the life of one of these young people. Not only can I personally relate to numerous topics having lived in a city after college myself, but I can relate because I have kids that are doing it now.

A friend of mine has stated, on numerous occasions, that I am a "TV person" and it's true, I am. I like TV. I learn from it, I watch it, I often have it on as company... as background noise. My husband used to tease me when the lamaze instructor told us 26 years ago that our babies in utero would already be used to our voices when they were born because they could hear us, he said, "oh good, my baby will recognize David Hartman's voice (he was on GMA back then), because he's around more than I am!" I have always watched the shows my kids watched, not necessarily because I liked them, often times I did, but because I wanted to know what they were interested in and what they were learning or being influenced by. It's a window into their world. The added benefit to watching television with your kids (this was before TiVo and my knowing how to tape shows on my VHS) was that it prompted all kinds of good conversation. Anyway, I digress.

Back to my webisode... and my cameo ...

What was fun about all of this was the exchange... (I had no idea that my neighbors had mentioned to their son that I had become a fan of the show.)
I'm riding on a chairlift and I get a Facebook message from their son, Jim (and oh btw, we were not friends on Facebook.) How'd I get this message? My iPhone and Facebook app., both of which are a result of the strong influence my kids have on me. (My own personal, "tech support.) Asking if I'd be willing to "play" a "perky flight attendant." And that we could do it over the phone because they were interested in my voice. With no hesitation I responded in text format, "I'm in!" Then Jim responded back in text format, setting the segment up and my lines... I was the voice over the loudspeaker when the plane hit some turbulence. When he recorded this we did it over Gmail's video chat (again, the result of my personal tech support.) It was a kick! He was very professional and very helpful in the debut of my (cough) acting career, and I really enjoyed asking him about this Internet program format and how it was going and how they're paying for it and its' future? A real learning for me.

Well, this hasn't aired yet and for all I know my few sentences may end up on the editing room floor, but nonetheless, I continue to be a groupie and I really appreciated the experience. I learned a lot! Who needs Bridge to ward off Alzheimer's?

*Side note: if you want to "catch up" on the "Chaos Theory" before my cameo voice appearance:


Thursday, January 7, 2010

All under one roof...for the moment

Happy New Year! It's been ages I know. No real excuses except that it's been the holidays, need I say more?

We did it, we had another Christmas with all four kids (Gen Yers) under one roof! Why do I make a big deal about it? Because I can feel the shift's been more than a few years that we've had all four for New Year's...ever since high school the kids have chosen to go elsewhere, (much more fun to be without parents on New Year's Eve, don'tchyaknow) and now that they're older, it's not so much "without parents" it's all about wanting to be with their peers, their significant others...I get that. But's different... With two kids in the real world making decisions about how they spend their paid vacation time, that particular holiday, depending on how it falls in the week, can reak havoc with the "days" off they get and whether or not they can make the trek home, using days off for travel. I know our Christmases as a nuclear family are numbered and that's OK, it's how it's supposed to be, but I treasure the ones that we've had.

You know it's different when it's just your own nuclear family than when you add in grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and I'm told that it's a more significant difference when it's a significant other of one of your kid's. Over the years your family has become accustomed to the various family nuances that grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. have, but with a significant other they come to the table from a whole other family and traditions. Not to mention privacy. There have been many movies made on the subject of going home for the holidays and all that's entailed and I can certainly relate. But I relate to the part of being the "out-law" and what it's like joining another family during a holiday celebration. What's different for me is being that family and having someone joining our celebration. This is going to be an adjustment. Now I don't want to over think this, because it has happened yet. And I'm sure it's going to be fine, but I do know that I have a wee bit of trouble sharing nicely in the sandbox. I love having everyone to my sandbox, I just don't like it when some have to go to other's sandboxes. Do you know what I mean?

A close girlfriend of mine now has a married daughter and this was the first Thanksgiving and Christmas navigating these waters. Well, Thanksgiving the newlyweds went to the bride's family's and Christmas to the groom's. Sounds reasonable, right? Well, after checking in: From my girlfriend's perspective (the Mom perspective, which of course I relate to) Thanksgiving was great because everyone was together plus one (the groom); they had an "early Christmas" with the newlyweds, but the siblings couldn't be there because of school and job. In retrospect that may have been kind of nice...alone time with the newlyweds. But when the actual holiday came, the dynamic was different without their daughter. Oh it was nice and everyone had a good time, but when the phone rang and it was the daughter calling from her was a serious pull to the ol' heartstrings. For both mother and daughter. Everyone kept a stiff upper lip and shared each of their Christmases via the phone... but were a few tears shed after hanging up? Not that everyone's not happy for the newlyweds new life together and all that goes with it, just a little cry over missing times gone by. I know that will be me! I'm going to have to work on this!
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