My Analog Kids

I know writing this might not make me the coolest kid at the lunch table. I know many of you may not agree with me on this. But I want to discuss it, anyway.

I don’t think young children should have access to smartphones or tablets. My kids do not have access, and I plan to shelter them from all things digital as long as humanly possible (until, like, first grade, when every kid is handed a tablet).

iPad

iPad (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

 

Now, I neither knock nor deny the positive impact technology has had on our society. There are economic, educational, organizational, and even humanitarian benefits. Some of the most significant advancements in medicine have been in concert with developments in the digital world. And I support that.

 

 

Wi-Fi Signal logo

Wi-Fi Signal logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What I’m not fine with is the impact digital life has had on the social level. Here’s the thing: We are so enmeshed with our technology, it takes a literal act of God for us to look away. We roam from electrical outlet to electrical outlet seeking our next fix. We search for WiFi signals like prospectors during the Gold Rush. We literally cannot complete a meal without involving social media. Technology has become a silent, yet very influential, partner in all our lives.

Don’t get me wrong. I remember being holed up in my room on Christmas vacation in 6th grade, trying to beat Super Mario Brothers. I was one of the first to run out and buy myself a cell phone. I won’t play a movie without it being connected to a home theater system. I love my technology. I do.

What I don’t love is what’s happened to people because of it. Tech has become the curtain we all hide behind, the filter for all our interactions, and the mandatory final step before actually making connections with the physical world.

There’s nothing sadder to me than seeing a kid in a shopping cart with his head trained toward a glowing screen, swiping hither and yon. I mean, shouldn’t that kid be taking in his surroundings, exploring his world, talking to his mother? Granted, I am aware of and fully acknowledge the educational benefits of handheld devices. It’s just…can’t we wait a while?

Our kids’ heads are inevitably going to be buried in something for the rest of their lives. They’ve got a good seventy-five years ahead of them to be inextricably trapped in the web of technology. Must they begin at age two or three?

My kids don’t have tablets, phones, or iPods. They’ve never even held an iPad. Further, they don’t know other kids use them. The only time we use our phones to entertain is at SuperCuts, where they watch Mater’s Tall Tales. That’s it.

I don’t want to wax old-fashioned, but my generation got by without it. We really did. There was no daily visual chronicling of life, no ability to solicit feedback from the general populace on every activity of daily living, and no social media influence exerted or accepted.

I don’t want technology to come between my husband and I and our kids, or our kids and their childhoods. It’s that simple.

It’s bad enough that they know every corporate logo they see, they blurt out the names of cereals I’ll never buy, and beg for toys I’ve never heard of. If I’m uncomfortable with that level of engagement, I can’t imagine how uncomfortable I’d be with three of them asking to use tablets all day.

I’d like to say that I shield them completely from all the evils of technology and social media, but you know I don’t. You see their pictures on Facebook, and Instagram, and even here. And that’s on me. In an ideal world, I’d never have started that, but, as you know, this world’s not ideal, and indeed I have.

I’m not a Grinchy grouch, or a technology-hater (at all). It’s just that I have preciously few years to see my kids faces in the glow of the sun instead of a touchscreen.

I’d like to keep it that way as long as I can.

 

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That Time I Effed Up Dinner

It was a rainy day. I didn’t realize I wasn’t on my game until I was on my home from the grocery store and realized I hadn’t bought enough meat for the tacos. I called my aunt, frantically, since she was on her way, and begged her to pick up any type of boneless meat she chose, explaining that I bought meat, just not enough. She agreed.

Hard-shell taco with meat, cheese, lettuce, to...

Hard-shell taco with meat, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and onions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I rested for a bit while my kids napped, feeling no real urgency to start the food. My husband was a little anxious and asked me twice what should go into the crock pot for the chili. Once the kids woke up and my company had arrived, I instructed him to put the two packages of ground chicken I’d bought, canned tomatoes, kidney beans, and spices, and to set it to ‘high’.

It was after 4pm.

My husband cut up chicken while I cooked the ground beef (here, I’ll omit the part where the grocery store ground up old beef with new beef, forcing me to physically separate it, throwing the older stuff in the trash). Once it was browned, I began to season it.

“This cumin is really bland,” I told my husband, after the fifth time of shaking it in. I’d also realized that I’d completely forgotten how to season taco meat. After a few minutes of tasting, I’d realized I’d forgotten the turmeric. We found it, and I poured in a little turmeric. Not enough. I poured in a little more. Almost enough. I opened the container again, not realizing there was an opening to ‘pour’ – and guess what – a good two heaping teaspoons fell in the pan.

I scooped out what I could, mixing the meat, hoping it would still be fine, but knowing that it wouldn’t. I tasted it. It was rather mustardy. Not the flavor profile one would want for tacos.

“Dammit!” I said, pouring in more of all the spices, trying to balance it out.

I asked my husband to taste it. He made a face, saying it was ‘bitter’.

I poured some water in the pan and let it simmer, hoping it would work itself out.

Meanwhile, the two pounds of slimy ground chicken, beans, and tomatoes sat in the crock pot, refusing to cook. It was after five. I told him we’d have to put it in a pan and cook it on the stove instead.

He dumped it into a pan for me and I cranked that sucker up to 9. It started to boil. It looked like prison slop (hello, who forgot to brown the meat first!?!), slimy and gray among chunks of tomatoes.

I kept going back to the beef, checking and rechecking, adding onion and garlic.

“Looks like we’re having pizza,” my husband said quietly.

“Not necessarily,” I said. “Cut up the lettuce, tomatoes, olives, and onions, and shred the cheese.”

The beef wasn’t getting better, and the chili was boiling like, well, a giant vat of prison slop. I told my husband it looked like school lunch chili, except school lunch chili looked better.

“Just let it cook down,” I said to him. That became my mantra. I let that shizz boil for a good half hour, stirring occasionally so it wouldn’t stick to the pan. It smelled like paprika. That’s all I knew.

When we were almost done, I joined the rest of my family in the living room, informing them about the faux pas.

“I’m just warning you. I kind of messed up today,” I told them. “But there’s little sour cream and cheese can’t fix, right?”

They agreed.

I went back into the kitchen and prepared rice and refried beans, got out the salsas and tortilla chips. I really wanted to throw it all away, but I couldn’t justify throwing out four pounds of meat.

I walked into the living room again and said, “If all else fails, I did buy the big can of refried beans. And there’s rice, and tortilla chips.”

If there are two things you don’t want to screw up, they’re Indian and Mexican. Well, and sushi. So, three things. The consequences can be dire. When everything was done, I assessed the scene, figuring, really, how could all of it be bad if we have all this stuff to put on it? We could just make nachos or something, right?

And then the moment of truth arrived. I’d tasted the beef so many times hoping for it to magically transform, I was getting sick, but I didn’t touch the chili once (mostly for fear of salmonella) while it boiled violently on the stove.

I put a spoon in and took a bite. It looked like hell run over by a truck, but, by George, it was good. Like, really tasty.

I held the spoon out to my husband. He said, “I don’t want salmonella.”

I told him it was fine. He tasted it.

“Mmm. That’s good,” he said, with an air of disbelief. I wanted to hi-five with him for pulling this meal out of our asses (bad pun, I know), but it wasn’t quite time.

We called everyone to the kitchen. We made the kids each a chicken taco and gave them chips. They ate every single bite. And my husband, aunt, and uncle all had two plates, telling me how good everything was.

Now, I don’t know if they went home and died (I should probably check on them), but everyone here is perfectly fine.

In fact, I’m probably going to have some chili for lunch.

Moral of the story? I really don’t know. I just got lucky. But if I had to pick one, I’d say ‘Brown Your Meat First’. Or ‘Make Sure You Remember How to Season Taco Meat Before You Cook it for Seven People’.

Something like that.

I’m not cooking today, though. I need a break.

Listen to Your Mother Videos Are Up!

I’m just poking in to let you know the videos from our Listen to Your Mother show in Providence on May 10, 2014 are up!

Here is my video.

I sound angry, but I was just trying not to collapse in a puddle of tears. And I mostly succeeded. Also, would it have hurt me to smile?! Apparently!

Corrective Action: Next year – humor!!

 

 

Please also check out a few of my favorites from our show, Clare Blackmer reading A True Tale Most TragicAnika Denise’s Goldie’s Death Leap, and Daphnee Rentfrow’s Really? Really! . 

Hell, while you’re there, you might as well just watch them all.

Two A*Holes Go to a Concert

It was our first time seeing Michael Bublé, my mother and I. We were in the nosebleed seats, a place where I usually find myself, due to my remedial Ticketmaster skills, about five rows from the last in the arena. The place was filling up, though the two seats in the row in front of us remained vacant. When we saw that no one was coming, we took the liberty of dangling our feet over into the next row.

When the opening act finished, the seats were still empty. I had grown confident in the prospect of free foot seating for the entire evening.

A couple turned the corner and began to ascend the stairs towards our row.

“That’s them,” my mother said.

I sighed, sad to lose my feet seat, and returned my open-toed black platforms to the floor.

The couple was on the younger side – I’d say late-twenties, early thirties. The guy had sort of a Nick Lachey/Situation thing going on, all v-necked and shiny, and the girl was tiny, highlights, extensions, and a red halter dress that seemed to be missing some pieces.

I thought nothing of the couple until we caught a whiff of the chick. It may have been really great, expensive perfume, but due to the sheer quantity, I was unable to tell. I squinched my nose. My mother, whom, in her advanced age seems to have lost her inside voice completely, began sighing loudly, the way one does when someone at the checkout drops sixteen items on the belt in the twelve-item express line.

The ladies next to her waved their hands in front of their faces. The people behind me coughed. It was a little uncomfortable.

We figured it would dissipate, and I returned my attention to the show. After all, I didn’t pay $104 a ticket to see them.

When Mr. Bublé emerged, with a sassy slide, from behind a curtain, they whipped out their iPhones. The woman took about 87 pictures, while the guy texted? Emailed? Not sure. Something with words. I didn’t mind the glare, though – I had my phone out, too.

Two songs in, neither had released his stronghold on the iPhone. Passkey…do something…put it down…passkey…do something…put it down. I’d had my sandaled foot puked on, in the rain, at a Bon Jovi concert. I’d had my handbag submerged in beer. Drunk people had fallen on me. I’d lost a shoe, hopping on one foot for two hours, until I found it. I’ve clearly experienced worse at concerts.

Once the phones disappeared, and possibly realizing there was nothing with which to busy one’s hands, the couple started getting a little frisky.

The dude slid his hand up her dress. She kind of rode side-saddle in her chair. They kissed. They kissed again. She kissed his ear. He wrapped his arms around her. She yelled “Wooooooooo!! I LOVE YOU!!!” towards the stage in the middle of a song. They straight-up made out. She got up and sat on his lap.They swayed in the seat, like two sixteen-year-olds who had just had their first taste of Smirnoff Ice.

I was embarrassed for all the older people sitting around us. And myself. Clearly, executive functioning appeared suspended.

Were they drunk? I had no idea.

Eventually, awkwardly pulling her dress back over her what I can only imagine were waxed (or very carefully trimmed) lady parts, the woman returned to her seat.

Both pulled out their phones. She took another 257 pictures, while he did something with words.

She leaned back, with her phone in her hand. Kissed his ear. Made out some more. I’m not even sure they realized they were at a concert.

I really, really tried not to pay attention to them. But they were moving and swaying and making that sucking sound. She had also buried her knees in the man (again, older gentleman) next to her’s legs, as she sprawled across her seat, grinding on her Backstreet Boy. The man pretended not to notice. I silently hoped his pacemaker wouldn’t explode.

It was around an hour-and-a-half in, I began fantasizing about kicking them both in the head. Or just leaning down and having one of those there-are-older-people-all-around-you, are-you-kidding-me conversations, but I spent the time (between crass WOOOOOOs and I LOVE YOUs) just willing them to leave.

Before the encore, she put her clothes back on, whipped her hair around for the hundredth time, and they shot off down the stairs. Back to their hotel room? To make people at the game tables puke? Or worse? Who knows?

Our two rows looked at each other, nodded, congratulated ourselves, like we had just discovered the cure for Ebola.

I leaned over to my mother and said, “I think I picked the wrong seats.”

I always pick the wrong seats.

 

But it sure was a good show. HEY-OOOOO!

Momma Has Left the Building *PLEASE READ*

I have gathered you all here today to make an important announcement.

No, I’m not pregnant. (HAHAHAHAHA! Can you imagine that?!? Whoa, boy! Give me a second to wipe the tears from my eyes. Deep breath. Phew. Okay.)

After nearly three full years of being Momma Be Thy Name, your main dish and mommy blogger extraordinaire, I am afraid to inform you that she’s retired.

Well, what the hell does that mean?

The short answer is, I no longer identify myself (or my blog) as Momma Be Thy Name. Or, as others have, at many points, referred to me, Mamma, Mommy, or Mama. I know. It’s a mouthful. I have retired the logo and the tagline, and have edited my social media accounts to reflect the same.

There comes a point in every endeavor at which costs begin to exceed benefits, and though you know my kids are torturing me after bedtime, hauling the water out of the tub, and coloring on the walls (green marker this morning – has anyone seen the Magic Eraser?), I had to face the fact that, though it is fantastically entertaining (for you AND I), writing about it is simply not my passion.

Sure, I enjoy laughing and crying and marveling at my kids and family, and my own rapid (and sometimes painful) evolution as a mother, but it’s not the ultimate direction I wish to take, rather, the “brand” I wish to remain.

I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember. It’s in my bones, my blood. I’ve been narrating scenes, and life, in my head since kindergarten. It’s just who I am. Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to build and grow a diverse collection of skills (and followers – Hey!), and for that, I am grateful. But I feel that now is the time to build upon those skills, broaden my scope, and cultivate further growth.

I’m still here, it’s still me – and I intend to continue writing here about many of the same topics I have been – making you laugh (hopefully), cry (I hope not!), or nod in agreement. Even my kids. Sometimes. Maybe.

I’d love for you to stay and join me on this new leg of my journey, if you don’t miss Momma too much, but I totally understand if you don’t want to.

I was lucky enough to keep all my accounts intact through this change, so if you’re following me on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, etc…you really need not do anything.

I hope to continue to provide you with value, laughter, and thought-provoking content. There are just a few things you’ll see less of. Like the word “momma”.

All good things must come to an end, and for that dear, sweet cartoonified lady, I’m afraid this is it. Back to your ’50’s-style Formica kitchen. Go on!

I do encourage you to stick around, though – we may just be approaching the good part.

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