My day began with a fish funeral.
There was a two hour delay due to last night’s dusting of snow which was nice. I like sleeping a little extra. We had a relaxing morning, then I drove my tweens to school because the history fair project was too big for the bus. My youngest came with me, a lid tightly fitted to the glass container in her lap, the one that held Sonic the Betta upside down, already losing his color.
We drove to Brownie’s Beach, took a short walk down the path still covered in snow, and looked out upon the Chesapeake Bay. A quiet morning, it provided the perfect moment for this laying to rest. Shaped like the back of an armchair, a large piece of driftwood created a protected alcove just far enough from the water’s edge to provide safety for a while. She found a stick and dug. I helped. And when she thought it was deep enough, she gently poured Sonic in with the nicest plant from his bowl, then put the little paper name tag she’d made next to him and covered him up with sand, smoothing it out on top. Unlike past funerals with emotional eulogies, this one was quiet, a moment felt more than heard, but that was enough.
My sensitive one walked back slowly with me, still sad, but feeling good that we took this little fish who’d spent his life in a bowl, a fish native to mud puddles, and brought him to rest on the beach. She’d find quiet today at school to feel sad and she’d only tell her closest friends why. A nice boy drew a picture of Sonic for her and made her smile.
It was a little thing to do, but I was happy that I could be there for that moment. This is my eulogy girl, the loving spirit who’s written moving good-byes to half-eaten mice and yes, even bees. She has that heart and I am so thankful for it.
Some days are marked by the busy middles, but this one was marked by end caps, begun by the peace of a quiet place and the solemnity of a difficult moment, and ended with something quite the opposite, though also solemn and difficult.
It ended with four letter words of another kind, an out of control group message, and a time to step in.
I think it’s safe to say that I envy my mom the days of parenting with a rotary phone and a 2′ cord, seeing your child slumped against the wall or slithered down to the floor, back against the cupboard, talking out loud on a family phone in a public space, that spiraled cord pulled as straight as it could, but never long enough for privacy. That was nice (for her).
Now kids have their own phones… and worse, texting.
Though my girls don’t have phones (and I hear about that constantly), Miss Twelve uses iMessages to chat with her friends. My wolf in spirit who loves to run in a pack of friends, the social is important and I get that. The good of iMessages is that she’s using my account which means that I see the messages on my computer fly by on my computer screen. I told her that I see them, so she knows they aren’t completely private, but I told her I wouldn’t read them unless I saw something inappropriate.
Then tonight a flurry of messages flew across my screen in rapid succession. It was like a gangster machine gun fight, one girl sending mindless emoticons out to a group of 12 and the remaining 11 reacting with a mix of annoyance and fury. Some complained that it was late and they needed their sleep for exams tomorrow (I loved seeing that), some asked to be removed from the conversation or asked how to block the annoying one, and a couple others reacted with a long series of profanity that was shocking in its use, eloquence, and depth. One particular girl knows how to string together the most hideous words with the poetic flare of a seasick sailor. Not pretty.
My girl was upset. She didn’t know how to delete the conversation or remove people, nor did she know how to block people. It was midnight (on a school night). She was “freaking out,” so I told her that I was going to step in.
“Ok.” There was no resistance. My poor girl was tired and frustrated by the entire thing. Profanity still flew across the screen as did the mindless texts and emoticons. All because one girl was bored and had no respect for her friends. She annoyed me nearly as much as trash-mouth.
So, a parenting first, for me. I had to deal with my first (and probably not last) text battle.
She warned them.
“My moms about to be in this convo just sayin”
And then I did.
“Ladies, this is A’s mom and this conversation needs to end NOW. I have copied the entire conversation and will talk to parents about the foul language if I need to. It’s late, and some of these girls actually care about their grades. If it doesn’t end, I will be contacting your parents tomorrow.”
It wasn’t eloquent. It was midnight, after all. But it worked. There were only 4 messages after that, all brief.
Two “Yes ma’am,” one “Thank you ma’am,” and one “Thanks.”
There were several subsequent messages that went just between my daughter and her individual friends including the two girls who were swearing the most. One was terrified and extremely apologetic and said she’d “learned her lesson.” The other seemed concerned until she realized that “hey, your mom doesn’t have my mom’s number” and “whale my mom wont get that mad at me for saying bad words so im good.”
That concerns me, but that was one out of twelve. I’m proud of my girl for handling it well, for not getting upset when I needed to step in, and for trying to make it stop on her own. I’m also encouraged that while what I saw made me blush, that it wasn’t the norm. Those “thank yous” and apologies mean more. These kids are good kids and I appreciate that.
Now where’s that old fashioned rotary phone? Time to hook it up.