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When Parents Text

Mom:  Just wondering as to your whereabouts…please check one of the following boxes:
  • dead in a ditch
  • alive in a ditch with broken fingers
  • jail
  • Mars

Have you ever been  tempted to send a similar text to your missing-in-action adult child?  One  mom did exactly that and her message, along with dozens of hilarious others,  are collected in “When Parents Text,” a book that carries the very appropriate subtitle: “So Much Said . . . So Little Understood.”

The book springs from a website,  When Parents Text, created by Lauren Kaelin and Sophia Fraioli, friends-since-middle-school who both moved home to Monclair, N.J,  right out of college.  The blog and the book are a curated collection of texts sent by friends and others. Shortly after launch, the blog went viral with over five million hits a month.

The blog was born last November when Ms. Fraioli was commuting back to the nest one night and had the following exchange with her mother:

Mom: Tacos or meatloaf for dinner?
Me: Tacos
Mom: Bring your appetite. When will you be home?
Mom: Eta?
Mom: ???
Me: Can you pick me up at 6:45? My phone is going to die.
Mom: Walnut St?
Me: Yes
Mom: How many tacos?
Me: Might be more like 7.
Mom: Tacos?
Me: No, my train gets in then.
Me: Tacos? 2?
Mom: How many tacos?
Me: Mom, chill with the tacos.

Yes, we are all guilty of texts like that because texting is just such a convenient, sure-fire method of communicating with our adult children.  My theory is whether your kids are at work, a party or just hanging out, they are much more likely to respond to a text than talk on the phone which requires even a muffled, “Hi Mom.”  No one knows it’s mom sending a text. Also many Gen Y have stopped talking on their phones anyway; too time consuming! Why say it when you can text it?

We chatted—not texted–on the phone earlier this month with the dynamic duo of authors who left since home and emigrated to the hipper climes of Manhattan and Brooklyn.  Although many of the texts on both the website and the book portray parents as not the brightest, the young women say the book is done out of love, and maybe a little poking fun.  “We never intended to be mean,” says  Ms. Fraioli.  “In our  family it’s totally okay to make fun of each other.”

The hilarious texts are often the result of parents new to texting.  They don’t realize that  texting, Ms. Fraioli  says,  is supposed to be used for “essential facts, ” not writing “War and Peace.”  Many parents use texting as a substitute for a phone call, says Ms. Kaelin, and “share completely superfluous information like what they feeding the cat.”

Admittedly there is a learning curve before many parents can move their thumbs faster than a speeding bullet.  The “qwerty” keyboard and iPhone helped and now parents can nag their kids 24/7 as  Gen Y considers their phones an essential body part.  Once parents learned how to text,  “They’ve won the generational battle because they infiltrated something they know that we use,” says Ms. Kaelin resignedly.

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