Thursday, June 19, 2008

Cellphone Suspicion

I'm becoming very suspicious of cell phones. I know, it sounds a little paranoid, but I have reason to be suspicious.

It started when my oldest stepson got a cellphone in high school. I thought it was a good idea because he was driving so having a cell phone was a safety issue. Plus, I could call him and get him to stop and pick up a gallon of milk on the way home instead of having to get dressed and go back out again late at night mself.

But then things started getting a little weird. First there were the calls at all hours of the day and night and we had no way of knowing who he was talking to unless we asked. Which, if you've ever started asking your teenager any question, you'll understand is an exercise in futility. It used to be that teens had to use the home phone attached to the kitchen wall with a long cord which gave parents 1) the ability to answer the phone and find out who was calling before putting our teen on the line and 2) allowed us to monitor the conversation since the phone cord only stretched so far.

Now, our teen was talking to people we had not prescreened and taking the conversation out of our hearing range. Then there was the texting. Fingers flying over keys while at the dinner table or when we were all watching a movie at home.

"What's he saying? Who's he talking to? What's going on around here!!!"

No teen deserves this level of privacy if you ask me. It just feels wrong.

Then came something I wasn't expecting. BM (birthmom) started calling our son on his cell phone and getting the lowdown on where we were and what we were doing. Plus she was making plans with him without having to go through us. Not that we necessarily have to approve her plans with the kids. But when she calls directly to son and gives "orders" about when to leave our home and where to go at a specific time without talking to us - without even our knowledge that she's calling and giving him parental orders - it can cause problems. Like when our son rounds up his brother and sister at 4 p.m. on a Sunday and says "Time to go meet mom," and My Beloved and I are planning dinner for the family at 6 p.m.

"Wait just a minute, you can't leave. Who said you were going anywhere? You didn't ask us if you could leave today at 4 pm. We've got plans."

That boom you just heard was the start of yet another war between My Beloved and the BM. Who knew the cell phone would become a mechanism of war?

And over the years, this espionage has only gotten worse. Now all the stepchildren have their own cell phones (I bet you can guess who bought said phones. . .) so there seems to be near constant communication at all hours of the day and night between BM and stepkids while they are with us that we don't always know about.

Now I'm not complaining about not having to talk to BM myself anymore. Especially when she would call 3 times a day when the kids were with us for the weekend. But this spy tactic has become especially bad in the summer when the stepkids stay with us full time. BOOM! And those aren't fourth of July fireworks you're hearing.

It's not only intrusive, it's downright creepy. Like having a stalker. Someone else knowing where we are and what we're doing at all times. Someone else giving parental instruction to the kids while they're under our roof. Issuing parental orders that nearly always conflict with our plans. Happens every summer. I guess I should be used to it by now, year 5.

Before anyone gets the wrong idea, I'm all for open communication between parents and children. I don't necessarily feel the need to talk to my child every single day that she's with her dad during his visitation time. A call every other day is enough for me personally. And I guess I can understand that some parents feel the need to talk to their child every day. But three times a day?! First thing in the morning? Last thing at night? Updates on their movement at all times?!!!

That's called "not respecting boundaries" at the least and "pyscho-ex manipulation" at the worst. Plus, these kids are teenagers. They don't want to report in with parents all day long every day.

Maybe someone could invent a way to limit the number of calls per day a cell phone can receive from a particular number. The technology could be called IB ( Insanity Block). With IB, perhaps I wouldn't be so suspicious of cellphones anymore. Are you listening T-Mobile? Can you hear me AT&T?


Did you ever notice how friends have a way of talking all their own. Kind of like a system of code. When I was a "tween" (we didn't call that age group tween back then, we just called it awkward), my best friend Zalia and I developed a code and even aliases. Our aliases were rats we had drawn and named Looc and Rellik, which is Cool and Killer spelled backwards. Cool and Killer being typical adjectives used by teens in the 80s. Our code involved backwards talk, too. Of course, we could only speak this code in writing since talking backwards all the time was much too confusing, even for two smart 13-year-old blondes.

My friendspeak today is not that complicated and it varies from friend to friend. With Wondertwin, our friendspeak often involves making things up and discussing them as if they are real. For instance, Wondertwin just called to ask if she could swing by my place to change clothes between work and an event tonight. This wasn't presented in the form of a question, rather it was told to me as if it was her plan and that changing involved more than clothes, but a transformation into a glamazon. My response was of course to approve said stopover but with the condition that she provide a turn on the runway before she left. It was agreed.

My oldest friend Libba (oldest as in friends for the longest time not geriatric) and I don't find it unusual at all just to breathe at each other on line. No need to fill the time actually speaking, just being in touch with each other is all that's necessary. Our conversations also usually involve ranting in spectacular fashion about everyday annoyances. Listening in on our conversations would sound a little like heavy breathing crazy women.

I've noticed young women today also seem to have friendspeak. Only its called texting. Anyone else over 40 annoyed by this whole new "non-language?" I'm actually proud of the level of my verbal skills and the broad range of my vocabulary. Now its cool to speak to each other in abbreviations. Maybe that's my problem, while I'm not overly talkative, I do believe in being well spoken, witty and sharp. What's witty about LOL? What's interesting about BFF? In addition be being annoyed with today's friendspeak, I'm really afraid the younger generation will all be aflicted with carpal tunnel by the time they're 40 and will be unable to work and support my generation's social security needs.

As if! Social security probably won't even be in the cultural vernacular by the time I'm 70. Bummer!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The older they are, the harder they fall

Wondertwin and I have started tracking our clumsiness lately. Wondertwin is a good friend of mine whom I, from time to time with the right diet and a good hair day, resemble. In the last year, we've both been falling down a lot. And no, our falls do not correlate with the opening of 3 new wine bars in our neighborhood in the same time period.

"Do you remember how, when we were kids, we would fall down all the time and just get back up. No bruises. Nothing." Wondertwin wistfully reminisced over wine at said wine bar one afternoon. "Now, when I fall down, I end up with bruises, scars, scrapes, perhaps even a lingering injury. Could it be that the older we get, the harder we fall?"

"Maybe," I suggested, "We're just more top heavy now that we're adults." Wishful thinking. Sadly, the likelihood of this being true is nil since neither of us wear much more than a training bra. Top heavy, I wish.

"I think we just don't bounce so well anymore."

This has been a year of bounces gone wrong for Wondertwin and me. It started about a year ago when Wondertwin broke her foot casually walking through a parking garage. Then, at the beginning of the year, I fell off a motorcycle I was test riding. Ouch! That left a big mark! At Easter, I did a face plant in a "Mom vs. Kids" kickball game. Then Wondertwin took a tumble the following month while running a 5K. This month, we both are bruised and battered. Me from slipping on water tracked through the house by kids after swimming in the backyard pool. Bruised face and knee. She, bruise and scabby rash down one leg, resulting from a surfing incident.

I've decided we're looking at this all wrong by labeling ourselves as clumsy. I mean, how many women our age are riding motorcycles and surf boards? Perhaps, instead of trying to hide our hideous bruises with fake tan spray, we should celebrate our "war wounds." That's what they are after all, war wounds. We're fighting aging through risky and adventurous pursuits. We should be proud and wear our bruises, scrapes and casts with pride.

Black and blue could be the new Black!