The nest is nearly empty and they’re out on their own. How then, can a parent properly embarrass their adult children? Here’s nine new e-ways to reach out and annoy!
Social media took off first with the “Look At Me!” generation. They post their pictures and postures, and their banter and blather. Well, YOU, Mr and Mrs Boomer Parent can use these new tools, too. Turn “Look At Me!” into “Look At Them!”
- There’s an iPhone voice-changer app called called ‘I am T-Pain.’ T-Pain is the hip-hop performer who distorts his voice in the music your kids know. Well, YOU can use this app to distort YOUR voice in helpful phrases like “Your Tires Look Low” “I Was Married At Your Age ” “Are You Seeing Anyone Yet?” and “How Much Did That Cost?” Save the recordings as ringtones, attach to e-mails or post on FaceBook.
- Pictures! You have them, from the dawn of time. Post to Flickr. Make a SkinIt for your laptop. Or, post to FaceBook.
- Remind them how much you had done by their age, even if it’s only partially true.
- Practice your Funny Walks. Remember when they were little how they used to burst into fits of giggles when you did this at church? They still react if you do this out in public (malls, golf courses, restaurants and, yes, church). I’m pretty sure you won’t see giggles.
- Bone up on John Mayer. He’s a scrawny guy that twentysomethings either love or hate. But they will all cringe when you start singing a Mayer song. Extra credit if you wear your hair like him, if you have enough, that is.
- Post kid vids on Youtube. Share on Facebook
- ElfYourself! This is like 2. and 6. Crop and edit a few family faces. Upload and viola!
- Talk to them in hip-hop. This is Advanced Annoyance. It may require listening to this dreck, if you can stand it. Practice. Practice. Practice. Understand you’ll probably never attain this level of annoyance.
- Power Rangers & Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Sure, they now watch ‘Transformers’ and ‘Transformers 2’ on the big screen, but you still have the action figures and pajamas. Decorate your house with the little plastic figurines. Or, whip them out at weddings or meet-the-future-child-in-law events.
My mother tells a story about the day when she went to meet my father’s parents for the first time at a home dinner. My young father had pleaded with his dad, a practical joker, to PLEASE behave himself. All through the evening things went well. When my grandmother brought the food to the table, my grandfather removed his teeth and set them aside his plate where his future daughter-in-law could see them. Dad was mortified.
Mom and Dad still married of course. And laugh about it to this day. See? It’s really a gift. They just don’t appreciate it at the time.
Last week Son2 called from college, all excited about his last year at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. He’s drafting a proposal for a grant, the framework for a thesis on “Marxist jurisprudence,” reeling in letters of recommendation, hoisting 18 credit hours and starting a part-time job. And, oh, would I mind sending him $25 for another book he needs?
After we hung up, I had to find his baby shoes. I’m not sure why, but I needed to reconnect with the little boy he once was. We keep a ‘boy box’ for each of our children. These boxes hold abandoned favorite toys, hand prints, sample report cards, Scout awards – tiny, useless-valuable things. We say these boxes are for them; that when they grow up and leave, we’ll hand them over. But Son1 has already left and the other is nearly gone, and we still have the boxes.
I can’t tell you the emotions I feel when I hold these little shoes. I see the flash of golden hair. I hear once again the bells in his baby voice. It’s pretty complex. He was a real shit as a little guy. His first word was “No!” He battled us all the way through high school.
Yet, just typing this now brings a lump to my throat. Yes, you can be all rational and ‘learn to let go.’
But this empty-nester can’t.