When he was in high school, my son ignored my “friend” request. “Get a life,” he explained. And though I longed for a peek through his Facebook window, I respected his desire for privacy and backed off…Until he got to college. When I pressed him again, he relented and we finally became “friends”. It was a nice moment. He understood that I wanted to stay connected while he was gone, and trusted me not to get psychotic if I saw something disturbing on his Facebook page.
A few days ago, I saw something disturbing on his Facebook page. He was tagged in a photo that showed him dancing in the bowels of a fraternity, wearing a “Party, Party, Party” t-shirt, clutching a bottle of champagne. The post triggered a blast of hysteria in the Empty Nest Command Center. “We’re pulling him out and sending him to Community College!” “He’s paying tuition from now on!”, “Call Betty Ford and book the Boris Yeltsin suite!” In other words, I got psychotic.
When calm prevailed, I realized my problem wasn’t so much with the fact that he was partying. I mean, he’s in college. Therefore he will party. Just like I did. Just like his mother did. Just like his peers do. If his grades are good and he’s not getting arrested or hospitalized, who am I to dump on his social life? The problem was that I saw him partying. Up close. Bottle in hand. In da club. I thought I wanted to know everything about my sons and their post-nest lives, but seeing them tear it up on a Saturday night in the fraternity basement? Uh, no thanks. I’ll also take a pass on streaking commencement, keg stands, rolling the school mascot, and everything else in the “Dudes Gone Wild” spectrum.
Still, the post demanded action. I considered un-friending him. Too harsh? Probably. Worse, he probably would have been relieved. I could keep it positive and post a supportive comment, “Way to bring the Dom, dude!”, or “Mayor of Chugtown!” But that seemed, well, demented. I took a breath and asked myself exactly why this post made me so anxious. And then I sent him this…“If you ever want to be gainfully employed, you might want to remove this photo. Love, Dad.” A day later, without any communication to his old “friend”, the photo came down.
“Power just went out in manhattan!”
“Declaring a state of emergency in apartment 3C, requesting emergency funds from parents for essentials, $100 needed”…
Henry is in his tiny apartment in NYC. Hurricane Sandy is bearing down. I know he’ll be fine – he’s not in the flood zone, he has candles and supplies – but I’m nervous anyway.
3000 miles is too far.
Somehow I feel better when, just a teensy bit obsessively, I click on this.
Remember how, when they were really tiny, you’d go into their room at night to make sure they were still breathing?
Tell me I wasn’t the only one who did that.
The current equivalent of that night time ritual seems to be the text message. I’ll send one out and on some level I hold my breath until I get a little ping back, no matter how small, that assures me they’re still there.
Then I can keep on breathing.