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.
I'm off to deactivate my Facebook account.