my nephew dropped me on facebook

20 October 2009

Not the one who just got married.  The other one who also happens to be breaking out of a starting gate into a new life.  In this case:  high school. 

Alas, it was only two weeks ago I rode high in this nephew’s “favourite friends” list, and now I’m out.  Cut off.  Me the fun artsy aunt who’s always done fun artsy projects with him and my nieces.  The one who was always sort of an extension to his mother, he said – in a good way.  Oh, and the mom – the equally cool, fun, happy mom?  She’s out too.

Okay I get that he had to make a choice – Facebook had to become either for friends only, or include family.  And there is a LOT of his family on Facebook.  Even a grandmother and a few great aunts.  It’s become something of a family forum, and that’s where the kid’s problems started.

See, there was this little incident of a swear word on a certain Facebook status for all the world to see, and a certain mom having an issue with it and a certain kid having computer privileges taken away.  You’re absolutely right, we all said (us grownups anyway).   It was a reckless, dumb teenager thing to say in a public realm, and my sister had every right to be angry about it – his Facebook is a reflection of him, and by extension, his family.  The kid needs to know how to behave around different audiences.  It’s an important grownup skill. 

So he had to make the choice.  I’m sure I would have done exactly the same thing he did when I was his age.  I would have made a big sigh and said to myself, hey, this is my new teenager world and it’s big and exciting and I don’t want no mom or no sisterly extension of my mom (even if she is fun and artsy) looking in the window.  It’s mine.  My high school friends don’t care if I say fuck on Facebook.  (Although, the closest thing we had to Facebook back when I was in school was passing a note around in math class.)

So I really do understand.  He is embarking on a brand new level of maturity – from my 48 year old perspective, reckless profanity – not so mature.  Go ahead and be an ass (his mother’s honest to goodness fear) around your high school buddies all you want – but not around relatives and grownups. Looking through my teenager eyes I’m thinking, what’s the big deal? 

My nephew is taking that new and exciting road into greater independence and freedom, and I don’t have to know all about it – nor do I want to.  I remember how great it felt to explore who I was and grow into my marvellously individual self and have more and more freedom to do so.  And teenagers deserve privacy just like the rest of us. We need to let them take these little steps giant leaps even though sometimes they’ll stumble.  We did.  Most of us turned out just fine. 

I suppose I’m just feeling a little sad I’m not of that top friends list anymore; my nephew’s world has grown that much larger.  I’m feeling sad that he didn’t go public about his new (first) girlfriend until after he locked me out, I had to hear about it from my daughter who’s still “in.”  And I’m feeling, for my sister, that mild sense of panic I felt when my own kids went to high school and everything changed.  It’s a melancholy aunt love that’s feeling both thrilled and sad about the boy she loves from the bottom of her heart who is turning into a young man, and before we know it, a man.


11 Responses to “my nephew dropped me on facebook”

  1. Cathy Says:

    Trying not to let the kids see me all teary and sniffly. I am sorry you were caught in the crossfire of our battle. Am so torn between completely understanding his actions and feeling shut out and pushed away. “yeah I learned a lesson! Not to have my mom as a Facebook friend!” But in the end, I know that he will always be “my Joe” (our nickname) and that he will share many things with me. He hasn’t stopped, but I know to just back off and let him come to me. I do hope he knows that he can come to me with any situation, but remember that he must go through so much in his life in order to learn things and grow. As painful as that may be. And as wonderful. I really really just don’t want him to grow up and be an asshole. The world has way too many of them now.

    Thank you Sister.

  2. Tricia Says:

    The growing up thing is bittersweet at best. We can be facebook friends, though. I’ll see if I can find you 😉

  3. Jennifer Says:

    Cathy, he won’t be an asshole. Not with a mom like you. He might be an ass sometimes – but hopefully he’s starting to learn to do that selectively. He’s a great kid. Even when he ditches his mom and aunt on facebook.

    Tricia – your son on another kind of beginning! In the end though – I think it turns out more sweet than bitter. Will be glad to be facebook friends!

  4. Cathy Says:

    That last part was a bit tongue in cheek.. but you probably knew that. 🙂

  5. Jennifer Says:

    Yes, the “don’t be an asshole” advice was orignally part of the post but got edited out. Anyway, still felt the need to state that he won’t be!

  6. Reluctant Blogger Says:

    Awww, you’ll soon be back in favour again. So far my children have kept me as friends on Facebook mostly because I don’t really fuss over what they say as long as they are never unkind to anyone. But I guess there may come a time when we fall out about it.

    I rather like being able to dip into their other worlds – particularly my daughter’s now she is at Uni (and when she was travelling last year) so I will be mindful of your experience and not leap at my sons in horror if they say something I don’t initially approve of. I don’t often comment though – I just lurk. And I know they lurk on mine too and listen in on my chats cos occasionally they give away things they could only have gleaned there.

    So yeah – let him have his space, make his statement and he’ll soon be adding you back in again.

    On the positive side – at least he’s not too hung up on his friend count or he wouldn’t delete anyone!!

  7. Hay Says:

    Lol, that’s kind of funny. Kids are awesome, adults hardly ever have the guts to drop people, we just ignore them.

  8. Barbara Lake Says:

    My daughter who is no longer a teenager, is on Face Book and is a “friend” but I tend not to venture to her page!! Not so much because of what she writes but more so because of what her so called ‘friends’ write.

    Teens? Teenage angst and raging hormones which thankfully they grow out of! As they do the language that we adults find offensive. A mother’s natural instinct is to react and lay on the line that this is a reflection of how one was brought up. That’s not necessarily so. Peer pressure and all that!! I understand how you feel being the ‘trendy aunt’ – cut loose by a nephew who probably thinks that the “f word’ has never been in your vocabulary! We were never that age!!!

    I took offence recently when an adult ( a sixty something!) who should have known better, vented for the world to see and unfortunately his ‘f word’ came up on my page. Without being aggressive because I know there are depression problems, I said this was not acceptable. His status changed immediately. And yes, whilst I only accept people I know or who I have interacted with for a long time via Blogland, I do have a problem deleting people!! Youngsters are so much better at that than we are. My daughter deleted and blocked several people whom she had known for years, without a backward glance because she didn’t like their behaviour.

    I’m sure you are still the ‘upbeat, trendy aunt’ but at the moment it just isn’t ‘cool’ to have you where you can see everything that he and his friends choose to share! Bit like reading his text messages! A real ‘no-no’!!!

    • Jennifer Says:

      Yes, well I’ve no doubt he still loves me to pieces. Alas though, my daughter took him to his first “real” rock concert last night – Metallica. I’m afraid I’m well and truly usurped of my cool factor.

  9. internships Says:

    I feel for you both on losing the friend’s status on Facebook. Just about a month or two ago, I forced my kid to add me to his Facebook. I noted that back when MySpace was the thing, my son was very depressed and writing scary poems about himself. I didn’t know how depressed he was until I did a little sneak peak at that MySpace page. Now I want to know when he’s posting those sort of things, so I can talk to him about it. I hate the fact that he feels lonely, but he doesn’t understand why I want to be his Facebook friend. I totally get the need for privacy for a teenager, but I’m also torn with the things I’ve read about Facebook (not only crazy people trying to contact children on the Internet, but I also read that future colleges will look him up as well!!!).

    I am sorry that this happened, but I do understand the teenage side as good as I understand the adult side. It is such a difficult time in life for our children. But, I agree, the kiddo won’t necessarily be a mean person. After a few years, we all realize how mean we were “back when” and the majority of us adjust our attitudes in the very early 20’s.

    • Jennifer Says:

      Well anyone who lets their child use a computer absolutely must teach them about safe computing practices, not getting hooked up with strangers, not ever giving out personal information, etc. And my sister has always been diligent about this. Eventually you have to have trust that your teachings work with your kids. But her kids aren’t suffering from depression either, so your case is special.

      Really – the whole ‘facebook friend’ element of my story was only to acknowledge that my nephew is growing up, and his world is getting bigger. He made the decision to make his facebook about his highschool friends and not his family and I’m cool with that. If I’m sorry that he deleted me from his ‘friends list’ it’s because I am bemoaning that a little boy has grown into a teenager. Honestly – I never visited his page unless he posted family photographs, just as I never read most young peoples’ pages. Most of it is stuff I just don’t need to know! 🙂 And my nephew still loves me, and lets me know often.

      I suppose your point about others (like colleges) looking at facebook pages hammers home the original point of the conflict between my sister and her son: facebook is a public forum. If you write things on it or post things on it – it might be seen by the public – or at least everyone in your friends list (if you’ve set your privacy settings correctly). If you have 500 friends, are you cool with those 500 people seeing what you write? As an adult, I’m aware of that. Often, kids are not.

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