Note: This is a letter I wrote to my sons but it can apply to many of our kids.
It’s easy, isn’t it? You share a post on Facebook, RT a link, make a comment on a photo, support a cause by “liking” it.
RT this if you hate cancer
Like this if you want to support #MentalHealth
You scroll through your Facebook feed, read the 140 characters written by strangers on Twitter, ‘heart’ pictures on Instagram, click on the thumbs up on StumbleUpon.
Look at me, it says! I care!
Remember the story The Emperor’s New Clothes? The weavers promised to make the emperor a suit that was invisible to those who were unfit for their position or, in a nutshell, stupid. So the Emperor was left walking around the kingdom naked. For the record, it was a child who spoke out and was all, “Dude, you’re naked.”
I’m paraphrasing here.
Social Media is a bit like this. You’re clothing yourself in the comfort that you care through your LOLs and Likes, your RTs and comments but the reality is you’re clothing yourself in nothing.
You’re the naked guy walking around the streets.
A scientist has never discovered the cure for a disease by liking a post, art was never created by retweeting a tweet, great athletes don’t become great athletes by reading articles on ‘how to become a great athlete’. Think of all the discoveries that never would have been made if those people had been too busy scrolling through Facebook updates.
I’m not saying social media is all bad. I love a good cat video and the 'Damn Daniel' vine? Well, you know how much I like that one. And yes, I know it's 'old' and not cool but guess what? So am I!
What I'm saying is a great many things have happened to me because of social media. But even more great things have happened because I stepped away from it.
It will never matter how many friends you have on Facebook or followers on Twitter. These are simply numbers, and they are numbers that can lie. What matters is how many people you connect with in your real life. This includes your “bury the body” friends, school friends, sport friends, family and even the woman you held open the door for at the store. You made eye contact with her, smiled and let her walk through first. What you didn’t know was she was having a bad day and you stopping to hold the door made it a tiny bit better.
Clothe yourself in something better than the invisible cloak of a virtual world filled with people you don’t really know.
Volunteer, laugh with friends, make discoveries, spend time with your family, move your body, get outside, read books, create art, put yourself out into the real world.
The warmth it will provide your soul is beyond anything you will ever find in front of your computer screen.
Like many parents I experienced a Cheerio up the nose moment when our oldest son was a toddler. This is a rite of passage for parents, is it not? Whether it’s a Cheerio, a raisin, a pebble, or in the case of my very unlucky friend, a hearing-aid battery which caused a trip the emergency room.
Curiosity got the best of him at breakfast while we watched Dora the Explorer and that Cheerio made its way from the bowl to his nose faster than you can say Swiper, no swiping. Thankfully it took only a pair of tweezers and a steady hand to pluck out the embedded piece of cereal while his younger brother looked on wide-eyed, not blinking, very similar to the never-blinking Dora who was currently telling her annoying monkey sidekick to Vamonos.
Once the Cheerio was thrown away I gave both boys a stern warning not to ever put anything in their noses. Ever.
Then I walked away, patting myself on the back for being such an awesome mother which I’m 100% sure is the exact moment the Gods of Irony decided to teach me a lesson. Because the Gods of Irony don’t like it when a mother gets a little too big for her britches and they like to take her down a notch or two.
Enter my second son and a black cat named Licorice.
Licorice is the perfect all black Halloween cat with the only spot on her slightly overweight body that is not black being, for lack of a better word, her bum hole.
I can only imagine how that bum hole must have looked like an intriguing target to a 2 ½ year old boy laying down, floor level while this unaware black cat slowly sauntered by.
So intriguing, in fact that he decided to stick his finger in it.
I have never in my life heard a sound like that coming from a cat before or since.
It took me exactly .05 seconds to run up the stairs to find out what happened, 10 seconds for my son to explain exactly where he had placed his finger, and another 3 seconds after that for me to implement the “No sticking anything in any orifice, ever” rule.
You would think this story would end here but like implementing any rule, it’s a two steps forward one step back process. Due to other unfortunate incidents that have occurred since then we needed to include additional items our children are not allowed to stick their fingers into. These include but are not limited to:
Bowling Balls. They are allowed to stick the fingers in the bowling ball finger holes but we are quite firm about our stance on trying to see how far in your fingers will go. For the record, if this does ever happen to you the 16-year-old working behind the shoe counter will have no idea how to help. Also, pulling as hard as you can will only make said child’s fingers swell.
Moving bicycle wheels (that one was actually me)
Your throat. Why he thought that was so funny I'll never know. But for the record, if you make your child clean it up once, it should put a stop to it.
Anywhere near a car door that is being closed.
The garden hose.
That teeny tiny knot-hole in the fence you totally thought your finger would fit into.
It’s now been over 672 days since our last finger incident.