Meeting Internet Friends

meeting-internet-friend

So here’s the thing, meeting people online, forming friendships/relationships, is not as weird or uncommon as it used to be.

Speaking as an older person, (ahem), I really can’t imagine doing that nowadays though I’m certainly not against it – in fact, back in the day when I used to read a lot of mommy blogs, I seriously thought I would attend some blog conferences and thought it would be fun to meet some of the people I had been reading online in real life.

I never did it though because ultimately, I didn’t care enough to follow through. I was curious, not serious.

But our boys, who have grown up online and who can’t imagine life without the Internet, are a different breed. It’s now the norm to meet friends online, in chat rooms, in forums, or recognize screen names from games.

I can’t confirm this, but I think that both boys, at one point or another, had online girlfriends though they never met them, to my knowledge.

I can always tell when Blake gets attached to someone online. His mood is happy, uplifting, he jokes around and laughs a lot.

And then I can always tell when something happens online, whether someone has disappointed him, or made him angry, or he has lost a friendship/relationship because he falls into a deep depression. He mopes around and sleeps A LOT. It always concerns me a bit when he sleeps so much – I know that’s his way of trying to get away from whatever is upsetting him. But I suppose we all have our ways of coping with unpleasant things.

Brandon is not like that. He doesn’t internalize as much as Blake does. When someone disappoints him, he just gets angry. I can’t imagine where he gets that trait from.

Brandon has a lot of online friends. In fact, he met one the other day and I found this out when I saw his friend’s post on Facebook.

The guy that Brandon met comments on his Facebook account. And I don’t know, I always assumed the guy was someone that Brandon went to school with. It never dawned on me that he was an online friend. When I saw the post on Facebook of Brandon meeting this friend, I was shocked.

I asked Brandon about the meet up when he and Blake came over for Sunday dinner. He said this friend was traveling back from Texas with his parents when they decided to stop in our hometown and meet Brandon. They met at a restaurant. Brandon said his parents even bought him dinner, which I thought was terribly nice of them to do.

Brandon and this guy have been online friends for about 6 years. After I got over my initial shock, I then freaked out a bit. I mean,  you hear all sorts of horror stories about weird people impersonating kids, or serial killers stalking their next victims and well … you just pray that never happens to your kids. But I guess they can Skype each other now and they can see it’s not an old man in his 60’s sitting around in his underwear.

(But they could always hire a kid, I guess).

Brandon also bought tickets to go to Vegas in October. By himself. He is going to some Final Fantasy conference and he’s meeting up with some online friends there, too. In fact, the latest word is, they are all going in on renting a condo for several days. Bran is supposed to be coming over this next week so we can help him book a flight. And I definitely have more questions about this condo, where it is, how much it costs, etc.

I know what you’re thinking – FREAK OUT MOMMA MOMENT. However, I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, NO WAY ARE YOU GOING TO VEGAS. But on the other hand, he’s 21 and if he’s willing to venture out on his own, well, I can’t stop him. In fact, I’m sort of proud of him for biting the bullet and stepping out of his comfort zone. Nearly all of Kevin’s sisters’ kids have traveled the world, in fact, one of my nieces is in Spain right now living with missionaries for the summer, I think my kid can handle going to Vegas.

I’m trying very hard to be cool about this. I would rather he come to me and tell me these things than hide them from me. At least if he talks to me, I can help him prepare for the trip and give him advice on how to be safe while there.

Blake is talking about going to Japan to meet a friend next year. I have no idea if he’ll ever do it but he’s been thinking about doing this for a few years now. (I wonder if that was why he was interested in taking Japanese class in high school – it all makes sense now!)

Of course, we would help him plan. He already has a passport (which reminds me, we need to renew Brandon’s passport. His expired at five years instead of the ten for me, Kevin and Blake, because Brandon was too young to qualify for a ten-year passport at the time). I’m pretty sure I’ll be way more freaked out with Blake going to Japan.

As in, OUT OF THE COUNTRY, PEOPLE.

But we’ll cross that bridge if/when we get there.

We are also working on setting the boys up for a credit card. All they have now are debit cards and well, we all know how risky debit cards are. Besides, they need to start building credit and now is a good time to start.

I’m betting, if the girlfriend thing ever happens for either of our sons, it will be through the Internet. And in a lot of ways, I think it’s better that way. At least that way, they can focus more on her personality as opposed to the physical side of things.

Like it or not, online relationships are real and they are happening, whether we approve of it or not. We might as well get on board.

Whose Fault Is It? Yours, Most Likely. Own It.

School-cartoon

It’s amazing how things have changed over the years, especially in the realm of education.

Once upon a time, there was this magical concept called personal responsibility and students were expected to do their homework, study, work hard, and get good grades.

When a student doesn’t do their job or work hard to get good grades it’s the teacher’s fault, not the kid’s incredibly flabby work ethic.

This lack of personal responsibility is why we have a future generation of self-entitled knuckleheads making a career out of being on welfare.

This applies to adults, too.

Epic Motivation

My favorite line, “the only thing holding you back is YOU.”

Yep. I concur.

So Brandon has finally gotten sick to death of his dishwashing gig. He comes home every day smelling like overripe food, nearly soaked from head-to-toe and did I mention that he’s allergic to the dishwashing soap they use? His arms look like a week-old heroin addict.

It’s not pretty.

In addition to the physical discomfort, he’s not getting breaks OR lunches, which honestly, I’m not sure how his employer is getting away with that – isn’t that against labor laws or something?

Anyway, he’s been doing this job for about 8 months now and he has finally decided he’s had enough. He’s been talking about quitting for about 6 months now (he has always hated this job), but was never motivated to DO anything about it, until recently.

We were sitting down to dinner the other night and when I called him to dinner, he said he couldn’t right at that moment because he was filling out an application for a popular retail store.

That’s when I knew he finally met business.

The store called him this morning to set up an interview. (Did I mention that his restaurant called him and hired him all within one week of him putting in his application at the place? He has scary luck with filling out applications, though there was a period of time he tried a few months back and didn’t get any bites and sort of gave up. But I’ve always had pretty good luck with filling out applications and getting interviews right away, too. Not sure what our secret is … other than WE’RE AWESOME! ha!)

He is interviewing for an overnight position. Granted, not ideal, but it will get his foot in the door and he’ll make $1.00 more an hour for the inconvenience. His interview is at 11:00 p.m. with the night manager this upcoming Tuesday.

I PRAY HE GETS IT! Not only will it be a better job overall, he’ll meet more people, he’ll get a discount on household items (more on that in a minute), and he’ll be able to transfer to a more cushy day shift at some point.

If he ends up working overnights, it’ll be quite an adjustment. We had a pretty good talk about how he’ll have to discipline himself to sleep whenever he gets off work, even if he doesn’t feel like it. And if he takes any classes in the fall, he’ll have to take early morning classes so he can just go to class as soon as he gets off in the morning.

AND maybe, at some point, he can put in a good word for Blake and Blake can work there on the weekends to make more money, give him something do on the weekends and to hopefully meet people and make friends. (I.E. GIRLFRIEND?!?)

So yes, I’ll be praying that he gets this job as I think it’ll be a really good move for him. He indicated he was willing to work full, or part-time on his application, so if he gets on full time, then we can get him on their insurance and take him off my insurance, thereby saving myself a little money, too. (Now if we can only figure out how to get Blake off my insurance. Because you know, he can only be on my insurance for another five years before he’ll HAVE to get his own insurance.)

And now back to the discount on household items perk …

We’ve been SERIOUSLY talking to the boys about moving out into their own apartment. It’s time. It’ll be a HUGE reality wake up call for them. Kevin has been taking Blake around to area apartment complexes and they have been going to their websites to get an idea of how much it’s going to cost. Then, they’ve been breaking down budgets and talking money to see if they can realistically make this happen. He can’t on his own but if both Blake and Brandon move out and split the cost, they can. (Though it’s going to be tight – hence another reason we’re encouraging this – to motivate them to either work more, and/or get better jobs that pay more).

We found an apartment complex literally down the road from us. This complex is within walking distance of a grocery store, a Chinese restaurant (Blake’s favorite food), Walgreens, Price Cutter, a coffee shop, and Sonic. WIN-WIN. They could even walk to our house if their cars broke down. AND, this apartment complex allows pets, which is something Blake is DYING to get – a Corgi. He LOVES those dogs, for some reason. The catch? If they want a pet, they have to pay $300 bucks UP FRONT, and then it’s an extra $25 per month. So though they can’t afford the pet right now, it’s an option at some point in the future.

That REALLY warmed Blake up to the idea.

I think the boys just assumed, when we first started talking about them moving out a few years ago, that they would move out and we would simply write them off. “Have a nice life!”

Um, no. They will be welcomed to come over and eat with us, they can bring their laundry over, they would still have keys to our house … again, when we explained all of that to them, they were both pretty excited about the prospect of being their own men … sort of.

Baby steps.

And if Brandon gets this retail store job, then he will get discounts on household items – furniture, cleaning products, etc.

Brandon really perked up when I mentioned that.

And to sweeten the pot … though I’m not sure how I feel about this option …

They pretty much grew up with the boy next door. The boy next door doesn’t live next door, but his grandparents do. So he would come over pretty regularly whenever he stopped by to visit them.

His grandparents are moving today (which is another story … should we buy their house as another investment? The big answer is NO for now, not sure we want to dig ourselves into that hole) and this boy is over there today “helping” them move, though he’s been over here most of the day catching up with the boys.

The thing is, this boy comes from a broken home. His mother is … an interesting and thoroughly messed up character. She’s nice enough, but she’s been a TERRIBLE example to her son. And Kevin has sort of taken it upon himself to be his surrogate father, since his real father died when he was three. (He’s almost 23 now). This poor boy has had a lot of drama in his life. His newest drama is – he just signed a year’s lease on an apartment with his long-time girlfriend. Only, for some reason, she isn’t ready to get serious with him and wants to go out and party with her friends. This boy, (Let’s call him Cory), doesn’t want her doing that. He’s ready to get semi-serious and to focus on building a relationship. I’m not sure if this girl is on drugs or what, but she’s suddenly abusive. She pushed Cory though a window. (Granted, we’re only hearing one side of the story – so we always take what he tells us with a grain of salt. NO ONE can be that unlucky with life … surely?)

It’s gotten so bad, he’s filed a restraining order against her and goes to court in a few weeks to finalize.

His girlfriend has kicked him out of the apartment. So now, he’s trying to figure out how to get his name off the lease HE JUST SIGNED.

When he found out the boys were talking about getting an apartment, he perked right up. It’s possible he may end up moving in with them. Which … I have mixed feelings about. He has a really good job, he’s a mechanic at a car dealership (he’s super good with cars) and he makes pretty good money. So, he could afford to move out with them. And he’s a good kid when he’s with us – I think he enjoys being in a stable, NORMAL family atmosphere, so I think Blake and Brandon would be a good influence on him … the question is, what sort of influence would he be on Blake and Brandon?

Drama seems to follow this kid around. And I’m SURE we’re not getting the whole story whenever he tells us about the crazy things that go in his life. So I’m SURE he would bring an element of crazy into Blake and Brandon’s lives …

But honestly, maybe they need a little crazy. One, to toughen them up. Life is hard and their lives haven’t been hard up to this point. And two, they need to learn to live a little and I think Cory would definitely introduce them to some fun. (Hopefully, LEGAL fun). And maybe he would teach them some confidence so they will make friends and even meet girls … (providing they are the right type of girls … but they won’t be able to distinguish the right ones from the “wrong” ones until they live a little).

So .. I ‘m nervous about the prospect of this happening, but I think, ultimately, it could be a win-win for all of them. Cory has practically been a part of our family since the boys were toddlers, so we could take him under our wing and hopefully teach him to make better choices in life. (As long as we didn’t have to deal too much with his messed-up mother. She both disgusts me and scares me, if you want the God’s honest truth).

But I look at this as an opportunity to do some good and possibly have a positive impact on Cory’s life.

We’ll see where this goes. We’re in the talking stages right now. The boys both have nice nest eggs saved up, so that they have something to fall back on if/when something comes up. Honestly, I think it’ll be a fun, teachable experience whenever it’s time to start shopping for furniture and kitchen items for their apartment.

The boys both have good heads on their shoulders and they really are good people, so now it’s up to us to (gently) push them out into the real world and trust that we’ve done our jobs.

Just a Little Case of Food Poisoning … I Think

puked So I get a text at work yesterday,

“Brandon is puking.”

My first thought was … “And?”

Brandon is a puker. (Is puker a word? It is now!). I think Brandon has puked more than any of us COMBINED. He has a weak stomach. Or a hyper-sensitive reflux action thing-a-ma-jig … I remember when Brandon was little and coughed at the dinner table, he would puke. And not just when he was little, sometimes he does it now, too. Though he’s better about holding it in his mouth.

(EW!)

Any sort of gag reflex, like shoving the toothbrush too far into his mouth, he would puke.

Brandon should have a t-shirt made with the slogan, “Beware – I puke.”

I called Kevin to find out what was going on and as per usual, because he’s a man, he downplayed the puking episode and advised me to stop by the store on the way home from work and buy some ginger ale.

Done.

When I got home and walked into Brandon’s room, I knew this puking episode was different.

He was lying in bed with nothing but his basketball shorts on. His skin was clammy and he was as pale as a ghost. His hair was wet from sweat and he was cuddling a mixing bowl to his chest to catch his puke. He had a bathroom towel and a wet hand towel close by. And the grossest part? The mixing bowl was pretty full.

*gag*

When I tried to ask him questions, he just grunted and kept complaining of feeling dizzy. In fact, he couldn’t walk to the restroom, across the hall, because he was so dizzy.

I’ll be honest, the dizzy part worried me the most. I don’t ever recall him feeling so dizzy that he couldn’t walk.

He puked, off and on, for HOURS. I finally got him to take a sip of ginger ale and take a few bites of toast without it coming right back up. Once that happened, I took a chance and gave him a Tylenol so he could try and get rid of his crazy headache that I’m sure was contributing to his nausea. He finally settled down enough that he stopped puking and I felt it was okay to stop hovering so he could get some sleep.

He tried to call into work this morning, (he was supposed to work an 8:30 to 3:00 shift today), but when he spoke to his manager, the manager said he couldn’t call in sick without a doctor’s note.

!!!???

Now. I don’t know about you, but we don’t go to the doctor – ever. In fact, none of us even have a primary care physician because, well, WE NEVER NEED TO GO TO THE DOCTOR. So the fact that his manager was asking him to get a doctor’s note, well, it wasn’t going to happen because we don’t run to the doctor for every little sniffle or if we’re feeling nauseous.

I was pretty furious but tried not to show it. Though he wasn’t puking this morning, he was still pale and nauseous. So the mom part of me wanted to advise Brandon to tell his boss to go F himself, but the more rational, been-a-manager-once-in-my-lifetime-and-worked-with-kids-his-age knew where he was coming from. I’m sure his employer has kids call in sick all the time that aren’t really sick so I could understand why he said that to Brandon.

So I was sort of stuck. This was a teachable moment and though I’ve always told the kids to never call in sick unless they were dying, I’m not completely heartless – he was truly sick. And he’s never called in sick since he’s worked there and has always worked the extra shifts whenever they’ve asked him so I thought his manager made a poor managerial decision considering his work history. But that’s neither here nor there.

I left it up to him. I said, “It’s your choice. I can’t make it for you. And you’re not a kid anymore, you’re your own man, so mommy can’t call in to work for you. You can tough it out and go to work, or stay home, against the advice of your manager and hope you don’t get fired. It’s your call.”

He went to work.

And then promptly came back home three hours later.

He was opening with his assistant manager and when his manager got to work and saw how pale Brandon was and how he wasn’t acting like his happy-go-lucky-easy-going self, he sent him home.

At least now his employer will know that when he calls in sick, he truly is sick and will hopefully take his word for it next time.

And I also made sure to caution Brandon not to abuse that employer-employee trust in the future.

I know it sucks to be sick but how many of us have gone to work feeling like warm death?

Exactly.

When I worked at Wal-Mart, I was feeling so bad that I finally grabbed a Wal-Mart bag, tucked myself into a corner of the office (I worked in the cash office at the time and I wanted to get out of camera range), puked my guts out and into that bag, then calmly walked that bag to the restroom, dumped it and went right back to work. *snap* Damn straight.

And recently, I must have ate something bad for breakfast because by mid-morning, I was having little throw-up-in-my-mouth episodes until I finally cried uncle and went home. I puked, felt better and felt so guilty that there were still three hours left in the work day, I WENT BACK TO WORK and finished my shift. *snap* Damn straight. I felt better. And I had work to do.

Everyone was pretty astonished to see me and I’m sure I made some people pretty uncomfortable because I was sort of setting a bad precedent for everyone else, but that’s my work ethic. If I ever leave work, or stay off work, THEN IT’S TIME TO READ MY WILL BECAUSE I’M DYING. (Actually, we don’t have a will yet but Kevin and I have been talking about putting one together – soon).

Anyway – I spent the day washing every one’s bedding. I started with Brandon’s (and won’t even tell you how nasty his sheets were since he lost his cookies on his bed at the very beginning of his sickness) and figured, what the hey, might as well wash everyone’s duvets, too.

He seems to be okay now. We had fried cod for dinner, (Kevin made it – he’s an AWESOME cook) and Bran ate his fair share so I think we’re back to normal. I have no idea what he ate that caused his food poisoning … the only thing he ate was (frozen) waffles for breakfast and then an almost entire bag of Cheetos.

We’re thinking it was the Cheetos since they had been in the pantry for a very long time. Then again, so had the waffles … so, we’re still stumped as to the cause.

I’m just glad he’s feeling well … life can resume again.