Life Before Technology Ate Our Brains

Author Heather Balog

My son was punished earlier this week…we took away his iPod and his phone for two days. I thought by the end of the second day he was going to go absolutely bonkers from technology withdrawal. It rained yesterday so he couldn’t go outside and there was, according to him, “nothing on TV”. With 400 channels, plus on Demand, I find that very hard to believe. Yet he sat, sulkily in the living room, watching Phineas and Ferb reruns, pining for his beloved iPod and his connection to the outside world.
If I was parted from my iPhone for 48 hours, I must admit, at this point in my life, I’d be distressed. Technology has definitely enhanced our lives in ways we never imagined. I mean, I am sitting poolside while writing this and I won’t even have to move more than my fingertips to make this available for all…

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Shock Collars for Social Media

I realize that this is completely off topic, but this is just meant to be a satirical post, poking fun of everyone who uses Facebook (myself included). If you see yourself in this post, just laugh, ok? I’m guilty of almost all of the following.

I’m convinced that social media just may destroy the world as we know it. I don’t mean that kids nowadays have no idea how to interact with each other without a cell phone in their hand or the fact that they are all going to seriously need chiropractic adjustments because their neck muscles can’t hold their head up to look straight ahead. That’s all true, of course. (Please see, Before Technology Ate Our Brains).
No, what I am witnessing is much, much worse. It’s not the kids imploding as much as it is the adults. Adults are doing this to themselves…they can’t blame the damn kids for this one. Social media has become, well, a social circus of sorts. Facebook in particular is probably singlehandedly responsible for more divorces, family feuds and friendship breakups than we can possibly imagine. And why? Well, in the words of one of my anti-Facebook friend, “Facebook is evil”. After six years on social media, I’m feeling inclined to agree with him. Adults cannot just be adults and look at each other’s pictures in a stalker like fashion, keeping their opinions to themselves like we do in real life. People would not do or say half of what they do on social media. I think we were better off when we weren’t privy to the constant details of other people’s lives. It is because of the following annoying Facebook friends that our world is being ruined by social media.
The “Oversharer”: In actuality, I think we are all guilty of this one from time to time. But there is a fine line that the chronic Oversharer crosses almost daily. Hell, the Oversharer pretty much leaps over that line in a tutu shouting “look at me, look at me!” Perhaps she was not hugged enough as a child. Who knows. But the Oversharer feels the need to tell every one in the social media world everything from the fact that she is pooping on the toilet to the fact that her husband is cheating on her. I cringe whenever I read the Oversharer’s status and always wonder if she thinks it’s her own personal diary. Maybe she doesn’t understand the whole “public” concept? Or she has Tourette’s and says the first thing that pops into her head? Honestly, Oversharer, I don’t need to know about your yeast infection.
Suzy Freaking Sunshine: That song “Happy”. Yeah it’s about her. She’s always blessed, nothing ever goes wrong and she LOVES everyone. You throw up a little in your mouth when you read her posts. Beware, she’s one prescription refill away from a nervous breakdown.
The Vague Poster: This friend to social media WANTS to be the Oversharer but he or she doesn’t REALLY want people to know every detail of their life. Instead, they like their friends to play that little guessing game…”is she talking about me?” This type of Facebook friend is just waiting for her friends to ask “what’s wrong?” The best way to deal with this friend is to ignore them completely. Otherwise, you’re constantly wondering if she’s talking about you.
The Comment Crasher: This type of person is one of the most toxic on Facebook. You cannot ignore them because they comment on every freaking status and picture imaginable, managing to insult you and your other friends in the process. For example, “nice picture, who’s that fat guy next to you?” (It’s your boss) This ends up wrecking friendship after friendship because you have no choice but to unfriend this person for your sanity. Which makes seeing THEM in public SUPER DUPER weird.
The Manic Depressive: She’s like that Katy Perry song, she’s hot and she’s cold, she’s yes and she’s no…and you’ve got a front row seat for the whole damn train wreck. One day she’s pinning inspirational Pinterest sayings and the next day she’s lamenting about the cruelty of her life, threatening to swallow the last of her Valium. Sort of a cross between the Oversharer and the Vague Poster. Don’t be alarmed, she’s overreacting. Just roll your eyes and move on.
The Frightening Friend: People you don’t really know well but are very, very, sorry you accepted their friend request on Facebook after a few status updates. Perhaps you didn’t realize they like to torture puppies in their spare time. Or they give their kids sponge baths…when they’re home from college. Whatever it is, de friend them ASAP. Chances are, you won’t see they too often anyway. And if you do, maybe they’re not the type of friend you really wanted in the first place.
The Selfie Showcaser: Yeah…stop with the selfies. Nobody wants to see them. Really.
Peter Politics: He wants to make sure you know about his stance on every single issue known to man from abortion to gun control. He is mostly an angry person, ranting and raving about the “other side” whether it’s republican, democrat or the Green Party. He really needs to either run for office or shut the hell up. Nobody is going to read his status and say, “oh my God, you’re right!” Nobody accomplishes anything by just running their mouth all the time.
The Shouter: He or she uses caps in their status updates. ALL THE TIME. You don’t know if he or she is mad, happy or just doesn’t know how to take the caps lock button off their keyboard. Which brings us to our next friend.
The Technologically Challenged: They post pictures upside down, send private messages to everyone in their status update or hit send before they complete their message or proofread. This can lead to uncomfortable situations as the Technologically Challenged do not know how to fix their booboos.

Can’t we bring back the nice old prom pictures when we had braces and bad hair, crock pot recipes and updates about the never ending snow? Back when Facebook and Instagram and whatever else is out there, was fun? Those don’t cause people to punch each other in the mouth (unless you looked really bad in your prom picture). I go on Facebook to see good news, sarcastic comments, five million pictures of your kids and funny statuses. I don’t want to watch people fighting back and forth (with words nonetheless). There’s a time and place for everything and it’s generally NOT on the internet. If you have a problem with your cousin or your coworker and you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t put it in a status update for God’s sake.
Here’s an idea, maybe if we set up a shock collar for those who want to use social media. And there is some sort of moderator in charge of delivering the shocks. Like, “Oh, that’s a picture of your placenta? I don’t think so…” BUZZ! “Ooo, a bitchy status about your sister? Hmmm, I think you’re gonna regret that one…” BUZZ! “Another political rant? That’s gonna cost you…” BUZZ! Seriously…how do I get that job?

Novocain is for Wimps

All parents seem to get one child who has an unnatural tolerance for pain and one who an absolute wimp. My son is some sort of freak of nature. His pain tolerance is off the charts. He has actually played baseball with 103 fever and will walk around with blood spurting out of his body before someone points it out to him. He detests ice packs, ace bandages and splints and refuses them under all circumstances. He has been concussed three times and we didn’t even know it because he bounces back up like a rubber ball without skipping a beat. I spent most of his childhood uttering phrases like, “where did you get that bruise?”,  “who bled all over the kitchen?” and “doesn’t it hurt with that eye ball hanging out?”. There are no tears, whining or dramatics involved in his (many) injuries. One time, my daughter threw a rock at his head (causing one of his concussions) and he walked into the house with blood all over his face and calmly said “I think I need a band aid.”

*I must pause here to mention that this unnatural tolerance for pain does not extend to things that actually do not hurt such as getting his hair cut, brushing his teeth or putting his contacts in. Those things cause him to flip out like a stark raving lunatic.*

My daughter, on the other hand, is a wuss, plain and simple. She cannot take any sort of pain or discomfort at all. Or the anticipation of possible pain or discomfort. Her tolerance level hovers somewhere in the -5 range on a pain scale of 1-10 and it’s causing A LOT of problems in every day life. She has to be chased around the lab for blood work, restrained by three people for a throat culture, and sat on in order to detangle her hair. If she trips up the stairs, she will literally crawl up the remainder of the steps until she reaches her destination, whimpering all the way. A hangnail will leave her catatonic. We go through a box of band aids a week because she puts one on every single bump and bruise she gets. I cringe when the phone rings and it’s the nurse from her school, mentally playing “guess the ailment today”. Yesterday she claimed she needed to come home because her “thigh collapsed”. I don’t even know HOW that would happen. She is routinely carried off the basketball court and softball field for injuries. The other parents think I am the worse mother ever because I do not indulge her and my only reply is usually, “Is there a bone sticking out? No? Okay, suck it up Buttercup and get back out there.”

I am certain that it’s an attention getting ploy. I’ve witnessed her falling off her pogo stick and bike when nobody is looking. She glanced around to see if she had an audience and hopped right back on when she realized she couldn’t get sympathy. Either that or she just likes to embarrass me. I’m pretty sure it’s the later.

Case in point. She has two teeth that have been loose for about 6 months. The adult teeth grew in behind the baby teeth, yet they are still sticking out of her head. She looks like a beaver. I finally decided to call the dentist to get them pulled. Stupid me. I forgot that a few months ago she actually PUNCHED the dentist while he tried to apply SEALANTS to her teeth. Yeah, that’s just painting your teeth with some film that helps prevent cavities. There was no way she was going to let him actually PULL a tooth out of her head.

She started her dramatic hyperventilating as we pulled up to the dentist office.

“What are we doing here?” she asks me suspiciously.

“Getting your teeth pulled,” I reply nonchalantly.

She crosses her arms over her chest defiantly. “Uh, uh. I’m not going.”

I sigh as I tell her, “Oh, yes you are.” And so begins the battle royale.

She tells the dentist immediately upon entry that there is NO WAY she’s letting him pull her tooth. He’s probably his mother’s wimpy child because he tosses his tools down on the tray without a fight.

“Well, you’re going to have to go to an oral surgeon then,” I tell her, while glaring at the dentist for his lack of effort. He rubs his jaw, probably recalling his last run in with my demon child.

“No,” she retorts. We go back and forth for several minutes, arguing. I have succumbed to every no no in the parenting handbook including threatening and bribery. The dental assistant is sitting there with a bemused expression on her face. She can’t believe that my children are related. The last time my son had a cavity filled he did it without Novocain because Novocain is for wimps. Like his sister.

“Tell you what…” the dentist finally jumps in. I shoot him a pained look. This better be good. “If you can get those teeth out in two weeks, you won’t have to get them pulled.”

She considers this for a moment. “Five weeks,” my lawyer in the making replies.

He shakes his head. “Two weeks.”

“Four weeks.”

“Two weeks.”

“Three weeks.”

He frowns and growls, “Two weeks. If you don’t get those teeth pulled, you’re going to need braces.”

Her faces crumples. “Will braces hurt?”

“Of course they hurt, ” he tells her. I want to personally knock him out at this point. She has a new worry now. All the way home, she is sniveling about braces. I want to drive my car off a cliff.

But this is why I think she just enjoys mortifying me. Her father will take her to the dentist, the doctor, the chiropractor, etc. etc. and she will tell him, “I’m going to be brave for you, Daddy,” with a pouty lip and a tear glistening in her evil little eye. And she will get whatever she needs to get done completed without a fight, causing my husband to come home and raise his eyebrows at me.

“I don’t get what the big deal is,” he will tell me. “She didn’t give me any problem.” And I will glare at her because she is clinging on to her Daddy and simultaneously sticking out her tongue at me.

“How come you’ll behave for Daddy and not me?” I accuse later on.

She smiles sweetly at me and responds, “It doesn’t hurt when Daddy’s there.” Little brat. Fine. If that’s the way you want it, Daddy can take care of all your doctor appointments and injuries in the future. I’ll take the one who doesn’t cry to get his bones reset and his head sewed back together. That’s MY kid.

 

Bad Mommies Unite

Author Heather Balog

I’m think I’m overwhelmed. I’m not sure. Is overwhelmed the feeling that your head is going to explode from all the things you need to do in a day and the feeling that you’re having a heart attack because of the constant heart palpitations and chest pain? Okay, then…I’m definitely overwhelmed.
I feel as if I have so many balls up in the air to juggle that I’m dropping all of them. Everyday I’m busting my ass to be the best mother, best wife, best friend, have the cleanest house and to do that job that pays for all of it, to the best of my ability. Throwing in my writing on the side and working out so I can wear a bikini on vacation and it’s become a recipe for disaster.
Moms are expected to be perfect. Our families see us as infallible and we knock ourselves out to…

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An Open Letter to People Without Kids

Dear Kind and Opinionated People Without Kids; I know you mean well and you’re just trying to help in your own way, maybe feel like you are contributing to molding the future generation in some way. I see your Facebook posts and hear your comments in restaurants and feel your glares in the grocery store. I get it…I’m screwing up my parenting job. No matter how hard I try, I’m messing something up. Maybe Johnny is having a meltdown because I won’t buy him the toy he wants and you are appalled that a child that age should know how to behave in a store. Or perhaps Teenage Janie has refused to look up from her iPod during our entire dinner, earbuds firmly pushed in her ears, tuning out the rest of our family and you disagree with this because in YOUR day kids…(fill in the blank). Thank you for your concern. On behalf of parents everywhere, mind your own *#$&@ business.
Oh, too harsh? So sorry. But I don’t care if you’re pregnant or you’re a godmother or an aunt and you babysit on a regular basis. You still don’t get it. And you WON’T get it until you hold your child in your arms. You can’t possibly understand it until you’ve had that moment where you realize, “Holy crap, I’m responsible for this person!” And that realization fills you with terror and joy at the same time. Because this kid is essentially a clean slate. And remember when you were posting all that crap on Facebook? The “I’ll never” or “parents should…”? Well here’s you’re chance tough guy. And when you figure out the magic formula, please let the rest of us in on it.
Cuz these kids don’t come with instruction manuals. Once you figure out how to do something right, you realize you’re screwing something else up. Or when one kid is content, the other thinks you’re the worst parent in the world. It’s one step forward, two steps back. And they certainly don’t exist in a vacuum. Oh sure, the first few months they’re entirely yours to mold. Like a vase on a potter’s wheel. All yours to make whatever size and shape and texture you want. You stare at it as you mold it with your fingers, the perfect image you’ve dreamt of. But what happens when you take that vase off the wheel and you put it on the table to dry? Someone else can go to admire it and knock it off the table. Or fill it with water and flowers before it’s ready. As soon as you let it out of your sight, it’s open to damage from the world around it because you can’t protect it all the time.
Same thing with kids. They have so many outside influences, like grandparents who don’t agree with your methods, school, TV and other kids. There’s the added challenge of the internet and exposure to things many of us never had to deal with when we were kids. It’s a wonder anyone gets through childhood as a normal decent human being any more.
But they do…many kids are normal, decent human beings. They’re not perfect, they make mistakes. Teenagers rebel and seven year olds don’t brush their teeth every night. You may not agree with the way I’m doing this whole parenting thing, but until you’ve been there yourself, don’t tell me how to do my job. It’s not just a matter of remembering to feed and water them and pat them on the head. It’s a person with feelings and wants and desires.
I’m sure you can imagine the logistics of the job…how it’s difficult to keep schedules and you feel like you’re running like a hamster on a wheel all the time. Even childless people get that. We are all stressed in today’s society with too much pressure from jobs and family. We all have crap days. You get that. But throw in a small person who can’t drive themselves to practice and another smaller person with an ear ache who is having trouble in math. And then add in your own stomach virus and a soccer uniform you forgot to wash. (And its owner is making snarky comments about you not keeping up with the laundry.) What takes priority?
What about the emotional factor of loving someone so much your heart nearly bursts and wanting to beat them with a wooden spoon at the same time? Yes, that’s real. Those moments you can’t imagine or plan for. Every day my kids push me to the breaking point, challenge me and my decisions and I need to stand firm and love them at the same time. Even though they’re pissing me off.
And don’t give me the, “well you choose to do this.” Yeah. I did. And I would not change it for the world. But nobody tells you about those seemingly insignificant details that become a majority of parenting. The wanting to give your children everything, but at the same time wanting to teach them the value of money, hard work and not wanting them to be spoiled brats. The wanting them to be happy but knowing you have to teach them about disappointments. The understanding that sometimes you have to punish them, and it truly hurting you more than it hurts them. The feeling of watching your child struggle with something and knowing you can’t help them, that they have to do it for themselves, they have to learn.The having to chose between doIng the right thing or the easy thing. The realization that from the ages of 12-17 your child is going to say some pretty hurtful things to break your heart and you are going to want to say them back, but all you can do is hold on and bite your tongue, praying you’ll see the real version of your baby on the other side of adolescence.
It’s bad enough other parents put their two cents in. Every child is different…what worked for your kid might send my kid over the edge. Yes, there are truly bad and lazy parents out there…more than you can imagine. But I assure you, I’m not one of them, simply for the reason I CARE. Yes, I make mistakes. Yes, I’m human. Yes, my kids might suffer from a poor choice I make. But I love them with all of my heart and while you may love your dog, your cat or your grandmother, you have no clue what it feels like to love another human being more than yourself. I can’t even put e feeling into words.
So go ahead and criticize. It’s a free country. But just remember, a childless person telling you how to raise your kid, is kind of like a blind man telling you what color to paint your kitchen.

Sincerely,

A Really Great Mom who sometimes feels like a Really Crappy Mom and doesn’t need you making her feel worse