Friday, March 30, 2012

Unfriending the Grandparents

Keeping up with the times is harder the older one gets.  Just ask me.  I was recently "unfriended" on Facebook by several grandchildren.  Talk about the epitome of rejection.

I'm not complaining, just observing.  I well remember being in the 13-18 year old stage and wondering how I ever got stuck with such old fashioned PARENTS, let alone GRANDparents!

I only had one set of grandparents when I was that age.  My maternal grandparents were dead, "Grandpa T" (Tonskemper was way too long a name for any kids to have to pronounce!) having died when Mom was 8 and "Grandma T" having died on Christmas Day the year I was 14.  My thoughts on hearing of her death that Christmas morning?  "Well, at least she delivered that big box of presents to our house last week."  So even though I was sad, it was obviously mitigated by the fact that I still had presents from her! 

I don't recall that my paternal grandparents played a big part in my life when I was a teenager.  Not that they didn't ... I just didn't pay a lot of attention to them!  They lived 20 miles away from us and I didn't see them very often.  And when I did, I didn't think I had much in common with them.

Periodically, they would come to our house in New Hope for dinner .. Grandma always drove, with "Baba" sitting in the passenger seat.  I only remember them having one car in all the years I knew them.  It was a peach colored Plymouth, 4-door sedan with a manual transmission.

I never asked why Grandma was always the driver.  However, as I reflect back on their relationship, I realize she had the big, front bedroom in their house in south Minneapolis, while Baba was relegated to the little back bedroom.  She worked outside the home (gasp! - mothers didn't work outside the home back in those days, much less grandmothers!)  She was the focus of their house whenever we went to visit ... Baba would sit in his chair bouncing one of the grandkids on his knee, and she would scurry around getting dinner, doing dishes, emptying the garbage, etc.  So, I guess the fact that she drove the car also makes sense in hindsight.

I don't remember much about Grandma; just little things like the red glass candy dish with pink peppermint hard candy that sat on the dining room buffet; the multitude of books in the living room bookcases (she worked in the book department at Dayton's); the painting of her as a girl hanging in the front room; and a trip with her to the downtown Dayton's store where she showed me how to buy nylons (3 pair to a box, carefully lined with tissue paper between each pair so they wouldn't snag on each other).

Baba?  I remember his tobacco humidor always smelling so wonderfully of his pipe tobacco; he worked in the sweater department at Rothchild's in downtown Minneapolis and ate jelly on his fried eggs ... I do, too!  Learned it from him.

I have a special place in my heart for my grandparents, and that's what I'm trying to develop with my grandchildren ... all 8 of them.  I've taken them on individual golf outings, have attended their school and sporting events, sent them "God" money every now and then, baked with them, played card games with them, had them for sleepovers at my house, spent hours shopping for presents for them on birthdays and holidays, and tried to maintain that intergenerational communication that I think grandparents and grandchildren should develop.

Part of this communication attempt was creating my own Facebook account!  I was quite excited when I friended my oldest granddaughter, the only one old enough to have an account at that time.  To be fair to her, she is still my "friend," although she did "unfriend" me at one point and her mother MADE her take me back as a friend (talk about humiliation ... remember the kid in the neighborhood your mom MADE you be friends with?)

It wasn't long before most of the other grandchildren had created FB accounts (see, I've even learned the lingo!) and I was excited to "friend" and be friended by them.  Shortly after friending them, THEIR friends started sending me "friend" invites.  I ignored those requests, preferring to focus my attention on my own grandchildren. Call me a cynic, but it could be that most of those little darlings were really just trying to add to their already astronomical numbers of Facebook "friends." I mean, really, I am more than 50 years older than they are and I can't claim over 1,000 people as "friends." 

Apparently, I am a bit "social media" challenged.  I actually "comment" on postings people put on Facebook.  I also talk to strangers in elevators, on airplanes and at the grocery store.  I just think that "conversation" is communication.  I believe that responding to comments on Facebook is the polite thing to do.  Why would they have that "comment" box there if they didn't want me to use it.

So if a posting went up that one of the teachers was absolutely not in a good mood that day, I would respond with "Oh, that's too bad, Honey. Hope it didn't ruin your day. You're such a wonderful girl. I'm sure the teacher wasn't mean to you!"

I thought that was pretty affirming, and showed my granddaughters that I was reading their posts, relating to their pain, and commiserating with them, all the while supporting the wonder of their existence in my world, and everyone else's.  What a great tool this Facebook thing was! Bonding with my grandchildren through modern technology.

I did start noticing that their posts were getting fewer and fewer.  Well, every fad runs its course and then it's done, I thought.  They've probably moved on to Twitter or My Space (I continue to marvel at my own grasp of these newer generational interests!)  When they would post, I would comment, pat myself on the back and read on.

The fact that they never responded to anything I posted was okay.  It takes a while to grow into your own personality and your own confidence in saying things for the world to see.  I didn't mind. I knew they were reading mine and being grateful that I was so responsive.  Periodically, my husband, who also had friended and been friended by the grandkids, would chuckle over one of their postings .. or, he would ask me to "explain" one of the postings to him.  I, of course, knew in my superior way that he was "trying" really hard, but he just didn't get it like I did!

So, imagine my surprise when my husband mentioned a posting by one of the granddaughters about a movie she had recently seen.  Thinking that I had just not read all of the postings I had to admit I hadn't seen anything.  He showed me the posting .. I quickly scrolled through my FB page, only to discover that I didn't have the posting .. and, in fact, I hadn't seen a posting from this particular granddaughter in quite some time.

A visit to her "wall" showed just bare bones items ... there was nothing there for me to see.  The dreaded "unfriending" (or, possibly less damaging, a "blocking") had happened to me. I later learned that she had also unfriended her own parents and a few other adults in her life, so I was not alone 

My error?  Commenting on posts!  Since Grandpa didn't comment, he wasn't unfriended! When you don't comment, they forget you're there!  And I thought I was the one who knew how to interact with the grandkids!

Imagine my surprise when I got a call from one of my other daughters a few weeks later advising me that HER daughter (also 13) had created a whole separate Facebook page where she could post items that her Grandma WOULDN'T see and COULDN'T comment on. When her Mom asked her why she didn't want me to see the postings, the reply was:  "Grandma always comments on things."  Apparently, her friends were curious as to who this "commenter" was ... especially since my posts tend to be a bit wordy ... quite a surprise I know!

I have to admit that my grandsons, who usually post about sports or XBox or PS3 games with names like "Call of Duty" or "Mortal Kombat," don't draw the comments from me that the girls do.  And, as a result, I still get to see their postings, so maybe there is something to this "lurking in the shadows" method of being on Facebook.

I really think I'm mature enough to deal with all of this without it really affecting my self-esteem.  After all, the kids will grow up and become mature adults who enjoy interacting with a grandmother who is so "with" the latest technology.

I've moved on.  I'm okay.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that my son-in-law (who is in that "mature adult" classification I just talked about) recently responded to a request I sent him to to engage in a "Word with Friends" game with me.

He declined. 

I'm off to deactivate my Facebook account.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Just One of Those Days

Friday is my "Library Day."  I've been on vacation for 2 weeks so haven't been here in a while.  I'm eager to arrive and "help" the folks who value and need my somewhat limited computer skills

I've got time to stop at the Mac & D's drive-through window to grab lunch so that I don't die of hunger during my shift.  Even though, there isn't much chance of my wasting away to nothing if I miss a meal, I continue to believe it may happen - allows me to eat those great skinny fries and other Mac & D grease-laden delicacies without a lot of guilt.

When I reach the "speaker," planning to order a chicken wrap and a coke, silently applauding myself for resisting the urge to order those fabulous skinny fries, I'm greeted by a hurried (and harried) "Voice" advising that Mac & D's credit card machine is not working and they are accepting cash only.  Not a problem for me, although I do notice several cars behind me pulling out of line after getting up to the speaker.  We do live in a plastic world.

After placing my order, I pull forward to "pay at the first window," as directed,  and am greeted by two women who look as if they'd rather be anywhere than where they are.  One asks me what I ordered.  When I tell her, she asks me if I happened to notice on the screen what my total cost was.  Realizing that more than their credit card machine is down, I am tempted to say, "Hmm ... twenty cents," but that darn Catholic guilt kicks in (I just KNOW God is watching and recording any of these temptations to which I might fall).  I tell her I didn't really pay a lot of attention, but I "think" it was about $3.88 - in actuality, I'm pretty darn sure that's what it was .. the "think" is my way of messing with God a little bit to see if He (She?) is keeping track of "almost sins." The two women confer and agree that sounds about right. What WOULD they have done if I had said "Twenty Cents?"   I'm given change for my $5.00 bill and sent on to the pick-up window.

You guessed it ... Mac & D's WHOLE computer system is down.  So at window #2, they have no idea what I ordered.  The young man apologetically asks me what I ordered, and then directs me to a waiting area where my food will be delivered. I'm starting to wonder if I should leave a tip for all of their trouble.

A few minutes later, I arrive at the library and notice a sign posted on the door:   "Restrooms out of order."  This normally isn't a problem, but, of course, now that I know there isn't one, and I have just finished my Coke, I have to go!  More importantly, the restrooms at the library are a big attraction to folks .. and this is spring break, so there will be a lot of moms and kids today.  I visualize a lot of little kids running around crying "I have to pee .. poo-poo ... tinkle, etc."  Should be interesting.

I ask the librarian what the alternate restroom arrangements might be ... the gas station across the street possibly?  You guessed it -  the gas station doesn't have water either.  Seems there's a leak in the street water main, and the city is hoping to have it fixed by 2 p.m.  Note of interest:  It is 2:38 p.m. as I am writing this and we still have no water; ergo, no restrooms!

I settle into my assigned area in the library and peruse the clients using the computers.  Everyone seems to be doing fine.  I ready myself for an easy day, despite the few quirky events this afternoon has served up so far.  

Soon, an elderly patron working on a computer beckons me over saying "I need some help."

I hurry over to him, ready to serve, trying to anticipate his needs.  Is he going to need help with Microsoft Word?  Searching the Library catalogue?  Printing to our master printer/copier device?  I'm filled with answers.
"What can you tell me about the restrooms? I need to pee."

And I thought it was going to be the little kids we'd be dealing with!
It's going to be one of those days!!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

There's No Place Like Home

14 days ... 4,000 miles ... $3,000 (give or take a dollar or two) ... and we're back home from our first postretirement winter getaway!  We had a great time but, were happy to get back to Minnesota ... just in time for our FIRST winter storm, which left about 6 inches of the heaviest, wettest snow we've seen in years.  Real heart attack snow .. thankfully, outside of my getting stuck in it a block from home, everyone survived.

Our trip was delightful.  We didn't kill each other ...  the car didn't break down and was very comfortable ... I finished a good book and crocheted a poncho for a granddaughter ... Ed's health was good ... we ate a lot .. drank a lot ... and laughed and visited with good friends.

Lessons learned from our vacation:

     Never pay a $50 upcharge for an "ocean front" room at the Beau Rivage Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi, unless you know you will arrive before dark and it won't be foggy in the morning when you look out the window at the ocean (boy, did they see US coming!)

    Don't expect really warm weather in northern Florida in February ... it's cool and damp there, even though it's filled with friends from home and we had a great time visiting with them (and shopping on the rainy day)

     Never say you're too old to try something new ... like sleeping in a Murphy Bed while visiting a friend for 5 days in Sarasota, Florida.  They are comfortable as well as practical!

     Don't take it personally if the waiter who took your order at a well-respected and popular Florida restaurant walks off the job before he delivers your food.  Seems cigarette breaks are extremely important to some people ... however, it would be nice if the replacement wait person would have known that Ed ordered a deviled crab cake sandwich and not a "Gator burger." We did see a "gator" in the pond outside the restaurant window as we waited for our food to be delivered ... hope that Gator burger was shipped in and not freshly caught!

     Expect the unexpected ... like a golf score of under 100 for 18 holes .. only the second time in my life I've done that.  And it was in Leesburg, Florida, where we spent several lovely days with friends enjoying their hospitality including a trip to the flea market!  Ed actually bought something, despite complaining that this was not his "cup of tea."

     Just because a restaurant is called a "fish camp," don't be surprised to find hundreds of stuffed exotic animals gracing the ceiling, walls and various platforms placed throughout the establishment.  There was a lot of fish on the menu, and one room was heavily decorated with painted wall plates (as in dishes) with fish on them, but the rest of the place was filled with lions and tigers and bears .. oh my!  Along with snakes, giraffes, bison, deer, antelope, monkeys, etc., etc. I do have to say it was a bit unnerving staring up at the undersides of a number of male animals (all anatomically correct!) while you ate ... makes Red Lobster seem very tame by comparison.

      Always have a flashlight with you when you travel ... even if it's just an app on your smartphone!  It came in handy when we had dinner at The Olde Pink House in Savannah, GA, and the bar/eating area we were in was so dark I needed to turn on my cell phone flashlight to read the menu.  I was a little embarrassed and was trying to do a quick "read and run" when I noticed the young woman sitting next to me doing the same thing ... ahh, technology!  The dinner was delicious and the ambience wonderfully romantic ... and I continue to believe it was Ed who put his hand on my thigh during dinner and not the guy at the table next to me!

      Mistletoe is a parasite that attaches itself to a host tree and grows wild in the south.  Very interesting to see and once it was pointed out to us, we spent a lot of time identifying it as we drove the southern roads. Additional lesson learned:  the driver should not be the person scanning the treelines looking for this growth .. especially when driving 70 mph on the Interstate in Florida!

      Never assume that you've heard it all until you overhear a trucker in a truckstop in Mississippi talking on his cell phone to his "beautiful baby boy!"   For the entire restaurant to hear, he acknowledged that he was happy his son was heading home for a visit and that Baby Boy would probably arrive before Daddy did, based on their geographical coordinates at that moment.  So, Daddy advised Baby Boy ... "you'd best call ahead to your momma and let her know you're comin'.  Otherwise, she's liable to get out her gun and shoot you since it's been so dang long since you've been home."  

We loved our vacation and we are so glad to be home.  And, yes, I did call ahead and let my Momma know we were comin'!