So here is the thing. When my first offspring headed off to a university far away, I didn’t get the communication regulations manual. Did you?
Am I the only one who is confused and awkward on this topic? Could we all not use some sort of teen rule for acceptable parent-teen long distance communications? My questions are endless and being without guidance, I am positive I am falling over my own feet.
It is just mid-terms time and I think I am screwing this up already.
What is the right way to communicate with your college kid?
Do I get to phone her once a week or once a month? Do I watch spiderwebs accumulate on my phone waiting for her to dial me? What is the absolute maximum number of messages I can send that she will actually respond to? What is the acceptable interval between texts that aren’t going to be an irritant to her? When she sends me pictures of her lunch, is that an invitation to interact or do I just send her a cool noncommittal “looks good?”
Why are there no teen-issued regulations for us? It would be super helpful if we got a schedule of some sort. Regulation #37: phone calls with no pre-text are not permitted except in the case of dire emergency.
Novel length text messages are not permitted from Moms, but that rule does not apply in the reverse. She sent me a text that really should have been an email or call because it was that long. She recounted her late-night rescue of a barfing girl in the dorm bathroom and the equally drunk boy that brought vomit girl there. She left me with questions, but after the third one, I could tell she was done answering them.
The one rule I know is sacred is the middle of the night weeping call… not mine… hers. I don’t get to weep into her ear in the dark and sad nights when I miss her. That is her sole right. The topic or issue that generates a pyjama call is irrelevant, I answer and stay up as long as she needs me.
Then there is FaceTime. Do I propose a time and date and just wait for a sign that gives me the go ahead at a designated hour when I can talk and see her face? Do I tell her during that digital face-to-face that I feel her absence every minute of every day? Probably not.
What if I want updates on classes or something else that I have paid for? Do I get to ask? By text maybe?
On the topic of texts, what about emojis? Have you heard? Emojis are apparently used by grandmas who have recently learned to text. My daughter says, “Why does Grandma put like 30 emojis at the bottom of her texts?” I think in my panicked head, “Have I sent emoji heavy texts lately? How many emojis can I get away with before the eyerolling starts? Maybe a heart or two, but certainly not five? Does a smiley face or perhaps a sad face when the news is not great enough or too much?
At what point am I hovering from 3000 miles away? I need a rule book, people!
I know what you are thinking: “These are our children, of course they want to communicate with us.” Maybe that is what your kids are like but they might just be polite and tolerant of your emojis. Not to burst bubbles, but these kids, and for sure mine are generally getting their first taste of freedom, and they probably want to cut some tethers.
It is hard to know what is too little or too much involvement. What I do know for sure is that there is such a thing as too many emojis. You can take that advice to your empty bank account.
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Magnolia Ripkin is sort of like your mouthy Aunt who drinks too much and tells you how to run your life, except funny… well mostly funny… like a cold glass of water in the face. She writes a flagrantly offensive blog at MagnoliaRipkinAdvice Blog answering pressing questions about business, personal development, parenting, heck even the bedroom isn’t safe. She is the Editor in Chief at BluntMoms.
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