I made the cardinal rule of mothering in the age of Facebook.
No, I didn’t drunk post on my teenager’s wall.
No, I didn’t make any embarrassing comments on her page .
So, what did I do?
I’m ashamed to say it. But, I will, in the name of honesty and the momfaze code of sharing (there isn’t one-I just made that up.)
I stalked my daughter’s Facebook (not so bad), and I got caught (very bad). How? I told her what I saw. In detail. Like I was talking about my own friends or other people that I know. Or people who are over 30. Or who are celebrities in the public eye.
How mortifying. (Not for her. For me.) Here I am, supposedly, this big expert on teenagers, and what do I do? I neglect to keep my trap shut after doing my motherly duty. Listen, it’s de rigeur to momstalk if one has tweens and teens on Facebook. For one, you have to make sure they or their friends aren’t doing/saying/posting anything inappropriate. More importantly, it gives you, the Mom who wants to be in the know, a birds-eye view on the happenings of teenagers who are going through what’s politely called the separation process (and impolitely called ignoring their mother).
As soon as I made my unwise remarks about her Facebook friends I wished I could suck all my words and sideways glances back. I know the winks and nudges hadn’t helped, and instead had caused me to be deemed a creeper, as opposed to a regular stalker.
I suffered dire consequences of my big mouth. In addition to shooting multiple sour-faced, dirty looks my way, she immediately warned me that I was about to be unfriended. She was so mad she didn’t even take the time to screech, lecture me or call me immature. She just picked up her iphone and clicked the Facebook icon. My previously very effective threats of taking away her phone or cancelling her Internet had lost their lustre (at 18 and away at university she was fully aware that I was going to do no such thing) I know that she thought I was being a creeper. But, I wasn’t. I was just interested in her life (and possibly bored.)
I learned something with this experience. And no, it’s not to stop sneaking on my kids’ Facebooks, Tumblrs, Twitters, Instagrams, or anywhere else they happen to be on the Internet. It’s to spy wisely.
The key to momstalking is to keep it to myself. Or, if I feel the need to share my findings, to keep it subtle and ask leading questions.
I’m very aware now that saying things like, Who is that boy in the pictures with you? Did you know he went as the Scarecrow to his high school costume party? actually freaks them out and makes them feel like you’re invading their privacy. (As opposed to making them feel like you’re just looking out for their personal safety, which obviously is the real motive. Umm…Wink)
Eventually, my girl took pity on me and added me back as a friend with the condition that I don’t do anything (in her words) weird. I’m fine with that because I’ve figured out that eavesdropping is more fun.
Parenting is a real learning experience.