COLUMN: Life goes on in the age of email

— She was talking enthusiastically about several things that had happened in recent days. She went into detail about a conversation she’d had with three friends, two girls and a boy. I got confused. “Now, was this at your dad’s?” I asked. “Did you have a play date over the weekend?”

“No, this was on the computer." She was quick to clarify my misunderstanding. She talked so vividly about the time she’s spent with her friends that I assumed they’d met in person. It had all been online.

We had a chuckle over it, but I still found it a little creepy. How’s a parent supposed to do the traditional parent-thing in cyberspace? When I brought up my firstborn, moms made play dates and brought their little ones to each others’ homes. The mom’s talked while the kids played at their feet. And in grade school, they graduated to slumber parties and trips to the mall.

All the while, the moms were within earshot, hearing the kids’ conversations and getting to know their names and interests. This was such a part of my life as a parent that I was invited to my daughter’s friends’ graduation parties.

How different it is now. My daughters don’t understand when I don’t remember one friend from another, that one friend is from church and this other friend is from science class.

They think my memory lapses are from a growing dementia, rather than from the simple fact that I haven’t met their friends in person. I haven’t had the privilege of connecting the name with a face, and the face with a parent or two.

I have been glad to see the popularity of the Lysander Ice Arena and its ice skating night for local youth. My daughter counts on going every week, enough to motivate her to ask what she can do to earn a few bucks for the admission. I tell her I remember social events like that when I was her age. There was ice skating at the rink in Fulton and then roller-skating at the Sports-O-Rama in Mattydale. Unfortunately, when I so fondly reminisce and get excited that we have some small thing in common, I slip momentarily into the past and say something like “Do you have enough money for roller-skating this weekend?” She groans and reminds me, once again, “It’s ICE-skating, Mom.”

Either way, I drop her off at the rink and pick her up again, red-cheeked and happy. And I’m thankful. I’m glad she has found ways to connect with the people that mean a lot to her, and that sometimes that includes me.

Karen Abbott is a published author and the mother of four girls, raised at Abbott Farms in Baldwinsville. She enjoys quilting, teaching and home economics.

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