So I recently summoned another bright young thing at work — let’s call him James — into my office. James uses my computer from time to time, and has a Facebook password installed on it. I explained my mission to him: I wanted to keep tabs, occasionally, on what my son was posting on Facebook, with an eye to college admissions. With the help of James’s password, I could see that Jake has a Facebook page. But I needed James to request that Jake “friend” him, so I could venture beyond this semi-public portal — so I could get to the good stuff.
You would have thought I was suggesting James betray the Christ. In an instant, he was posting a message on Jake’s page: Your mom is trying to get me to friend you so she can see what you have up on Facebook! Within minutes, my son was texting my cell phone: That’s really the lowest of the low, using James to try to friend me.
Busted. Thanks, James.
Of course, he’s young enough, still, to be on Jake’s side. He doesn’t have kids, or even a steady girlfriend. He talks to me sometimes about his parents, what he hides from them, can’t share with them. It isn’t awful stuff. It’s the exact same sort of thing I was hiding from my parents when I was 25 — a step beyond marijuana jokes, but not a giant step. I marvel at how individual history repeats itself, just like that of the world at large.
I think back to my mom buying me a bed for my first apartment after college, and asking anxiously: “Are you sure a twin is big enough?” I was mortified at the time by her intimation that I didn’t always sleep alone. Now I see only the generosity of her offer, this acknowledgement that I had — deserved — a life of my own.
HOME FROM WORK, I’m greeted with ecstasy by the dog, the old dog — 86 in human years, the vet says — who, unlike my children, has been steadfast in his affection all his life. Of course, he also hasn’t learned to feed himself or clean up his shit. Jake is at his computer, wearing headphones, a million levels deep into the monopoly on his attention known as World of Warcraft. “Hi!” I shout at him as I walk by. His eyes never leave the screen as he answers: “Hi.”
I put away my handbag and coat, tears stinging my eyes. So much effort for so little return …