Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Word of the Day: OXYMORON, as in "Cool Parents"

“Just because you’re parents, doesn’t mean you have to be lame.” So says Toyota in its new Highlander ad campaign. I’m more than a little surprised by the fact that there’s been negative reaction to this ad campaign (and there’s been quite a bit). Surely all parents realize that once our kids reach a certain age, we all may as well have the word LAME stamped on our foreheads. And clearly someone over at Toyota’s ad agency is plugged into the fact that most parents aspire to some level of coolness in the eyes of their kids in any event. It’s understandable – we don’t want to be thought of as old and coolness is a quality associated with youth. It might also having something to do with our desire to connect with our kids. 

We could all start by reading Lauren Myracle's books, ttyl, ttfn and l8r, g8r. Myracle's ttyl was the first-ever novel written entirely in the style of instant messaging or text-speak - it taught me a lot! I like words, though, and have had some trouble adapting to the short form that is appropriate for text messaging . My kids crack up because my reluctance to give up punctuation and vowels is evident when I try. I've been asked not to try any more. It's not cool; it's embarrassing (I've been instructed never to say or write OMG). The more effective tool for connecting has been the fact that I'll read a book like ttyl in the first place. I recently met a mom who was reading The Maze Runner by James Dashner so she'd have something to talk about with her 13 year old son. Love it! One of my brightest shining moments was the day I brought home an advanced reader copy of Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games and told my girls it was one of the best books I had ever read and it was meant for them.

I have learned that the best I can hope for are a few delicious albeit fleeting moments of coolness. As for the rest of the time, that’s ok, I don’t need to be a cool mom to connect with my kids and it’s probably best for everyone if I don’t try. I need to be a good, caring, compassionate, and vigilant mom. Sometimes the quest for coolness can inadvertently compromise vigilance and that's not a chance I'm ever comfortable taking.

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