A Lesson in Social Media From Teens

Once upon a time, a friend of one of my kids friended me on Facebook. She immediately told my child that I didn’t know how to use Facebook because I posted too much. My child gave it an eyeroll. I laughed because well–social media is one of the things I get paid for at work. I probably have read more white papers, case studies, best practices than most people on the Internet. I know how to sell a link.

So, what could a bunch of teenagers accidentally teach me about social media? A lot. You see, as I have already posted, my youngest child turned 16 today. Her father did a lovely tribute on his wall with pictures and comments. But, the real meat happened on her wall.

I look at birthday wishes on people’s walls ALL THE TIME. Happy Birthday Ann! Have a great birthday Jennifer! I hope your hubby spoils you Maxine. There is sometimes a variation. I try to say something about my wishes for their year ahead as an example. Goodness knows when you have someone or three having a birthday every day, it becomes part of your routine.

Then I read these kids’ birthday wishes for my daughter. It wasn’t just junk or Happy birthday Elly! These kids talked about how they met, mentioned a special time or two, talked about what they liked about her. They shared a picture of the two of them together. Yes, there were some “Your cute {sic}! HBD” types of comments. But most of them offered more. I have a friend or two that will go with a line more than happy birthday. But, how many go above that? None? How often do I go beyond that? Erm…not much. I will write a birthday post or something for family. Maybe. I sort of expect people to know they are loved and appreciated.

These posts weren’t extensive for the most part. Yes, one of them was a long ramble. (but it was touching and interesting) It wasn’t anything that would ADD a whole lot of time to a birthday greeting. It adds so much as a gift to the birthday person though. It also gives a gift to that person’s community. How many times have you known a person for years through one aspect of their life and never realized they had a hobby you found interesting? I bet that’s happened. Or you know something cool about a friend that maybe her other friends don’t realize.

So, there you go. I am going to try to say a bit more in my birthday wishes. I feel like it will be a big part of building community among my friends and family. I feel like it also will just make a difference to a single person. As adults, we have so many less than stellar birthdays. This is a way to give back.

Think about it. And thank you to the youngest child’s friends for taking me down a notch even if they don’t know they did. She’s the child that has always taught me I don’t know everything…and this was a reminder of that.

Sublimely Sixteen

Elizabeth is sixteen now. It is easy to get lost in thought while trying to come up with something coherent to say about her. I’ve pondered talking about her birth story. About her active nature even in the womb. I want to talk about how she knew how to get the attention on her from the very first minute of her very first day.

You see, Elizabeth bears herself with power. She owns that power and doesn’t let anyone forget it. Yes, she’s sixteen and has her angst. She also cuddles like a fiend. She is beautifully active–from riding her bike to school and everywhere else to swinging from some silk at the top of the Actor’s Gymnasium.

She’s lively. I see her light up a room with a smile. I see her stick up for the underdog. As she get older, I see more and more empathy for the disadvantaged and care about the forgotten. Yes, I still tell her to check her privilege–but not as much as I do the other children.

Elizabeth combines her confidence and power with extraordinary intelligence. She sometimes hides that in her efforts to spite people she does not respect. Yes, of course, that is cutting off her nose to spite her face, but it is how she does things. You are left in no doubt that she COULD do something if she chose to do it.

An example: Elizabeth, like her siblings before her, like her mother, chose to learn to play an instrument. Unlike her siblings and mother, she actually set forth and practiced for hours. She taught herself entirely–no lessons, no class, no “you need to practice if you want to be any good.” She decided to play. She looked up how to do what she wanted to do. She keeps at it. That strength and determination will get her far.

Even though you might think this house is a battle zone sometimes, with all the kids willing to blame Elizabeth for being a “hellspawn” and a “brat” there is also an intense love for her. Part of that is because she very much typifies “I am allowed to say and do everything I want to my family, but say one word truly against them and you are done.” There is a lot of love in Elizabeth. She is fierce in that love.

Lizzy and RJ Cuddling

Speaking of love, she has her first “real” boyfriend this year. She seems to be handling the relationship with far more maturity than I had at her age. She is clear on her limits. She didn’t freak out when I gave my standard know why you are having sex and do you remember how and what and when you need to use birth control. She brings the boy over and exposes him to her family. Not only that–he seems to have the character to not only tolerate it but seems to enjoy it. That is far rarer than you might think. By the time you’ve raised five out of six kids to young adulthood, plus some strays, you see a lot of love interests come and go. It does my heart good to see that raising a confident, smart, young woman can mean attracting kids who have some of the same values.

Elizabeth also loves the dogs with a passion. She will yell that they are wild. Crazy! Eat her stuff. She tells me we have too many and in the next breath she says “we should rescue more.” She’s also a big fan of cats, hedgehogs, oh, pretty much every animal.

Yes, Elizabeth is challenging. She is hot-blooded. She is sometimes the child that makes me laugh and cry at the same moment because she is right–but not right. I want to scoop her up and keep her cuddled next to me always…but also know that of all the children–she is the one most uniquely qualified to take the world by storm, on her own terms, and be the amazing change we all want in the world.

Happy Birthday Elizabeth. Anything. Anywhere. Anytime. I love you Little Bit.

 

Nudity? What my kids think drives traffic

So, in light of my desire to increase traffic to prove I can do it–I surveyed the kids, actually just the 18 yo and 16 yo, about how to increase traffic. These are their ideas:

  1. Nude Celebrities (maybe photoshopped with food?)
  2. Nude Food Bloggers
  3. Female nudity should just be “boobies” because “no one” wants to see nether regions.
  4. Me nude interviewing celebrities and/or chefs
  5. Me nude interviewing nude food bloggers

Considering these are children who freak out if I am changing my shirt in my own bedroom when they barge in, they seem to think I need to get naked on the Internet in order to get traffic.

This makes me wonder what they are looking at on the Internet. It also makes me wonder why they believe traffic is always about nudity. Remember–these aren’t young children. These aren’t children who grew up without a view of the Internet.

Little do they know that most of my traffic is to a post about Brim Coffee. No nudity there…just a lost product that helped people who didn’t like acidic coffee.

Brim

Ma Ingalls Had the Right Idea

There is a lot in the world I can’t fix right now. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) I fall to my mother’s fall back when life overwhelms: I clean.

It is a good time to clean anyway. We will have a house full of family and guests next week. But, that really isn’t what spurred today’s project. As everyone knows, the dogs have taken over our lives and our bed. Even not in our bed (for long enough that I fall asleep and/or Denise gets tired of shooing them off, they do have dog beds in our room. I should sleep on them.) they are in our room.

Something you may or may not know–there is almost always someone in our bedroom when we are home. It is the heart of our home. You might find it odd. Of course, if we are in our room–the dogs are as well. That is why most of the dog pictures are of the dogs on the bed. Like this one:
dogs (2)For the past couple of days, the odor was back. Eau de Dog! I thought I had eradicated it with washing all the linens. But it never totally went away and then it was BACK. What could that odor be? The dogs were gassy. The weather had been wet again. Maybe Buster had made another adolescent attempt at being manly?

My old housekeeping manuals seem to skip over this particular problem. In those homes of yesterday, the dogs slept outside in a dog house or something. I don’t know.

I woke up this morning and did my morning runs. I started to make the bed and THE ODOR. I had enough! So I stripped all the linens again. I glowered at the dogs. I threw the linens in the wash. When they were clean I started to make the bed. I ended up nudging the bed away from the wall. Ugh! Dust bunnies. NO! Dust DOGS! Yes, the weekly sweeping and mopping of the bedroom had missed that key area. The foot of the bed and the visible under bed area  was clean. I grabbed a broom and the dustpan.

Sweep. Shift the bed so I can sweep more. Shift it more. Unplug things so I can get the dust dog off the power bar. Remember that I need to sweep under the cubby–something I noticed last Sunday when Denise was doing her weekly cleaning. Hmm let me grab the magic eraser to get that mark. Oh there seems to be accumulated Coca-Cola spray here. I go to shift the bed back. I swipe at some marks on the door. Ugh. Wait! The wall has well…dirt on it. When you can see the wall and not the shadows….dirt! Ugh! Ok, magic eraser now dead. Fill a container with water and cleaning fluid. Get some cleaning rags. Oh drat! I seem to have wandered into my mother’s territory of washing walls and baseboards. I washed the one behind the bed and bedside tables. I notice that the ones by the dog beds also suddenly seem filthy I wash. I wash the other ones. I mop. I did stop before getting to the curtain and the mini blinds. I didn’t vacuum the bottom of the dog beds. (ewww dog hair!) That was more wretched than I could deal with when hello! work!

I was sweaty and probably smelled like dog myself by the time I was done. But, our room is clean. Really clean. And…guess what! The odor is long gone.

Still, either in pioneer times they were wiser by taking it all out in the yard and burning and sluicing everything down or the woodsmoke and general funk of just washing your body every so often must mean that Ma Ingall’s didn’t groan as Laura watched Jack and later Wolf settle down for the night. Or maybe she did and it just wasn’t spoken of in the books.