Okay fine, I admit it. I almost only text my mom when I’m sick, and don’t know what medicine to take, or when I am unsure whether or not I can put my frat-trashed white Converse into the washing machine with a Tide Pod. Her responses always include loving emoji’s at the end- the blushy face, kissy face, and two pink revolving hearts among her favorites.
My conversations with my mother, although not daily, are always uplifting, gentle reminders of the care that is always accessible back at my home in Connecticut. My mom understands social media and technology- an avid Facebook and Instagram user, a Twitter account holder, a blog poster, and a pro at navigating websites.
My dad, on the other hand, is slower with acing the budding field of technology, and understanding the prominence of social media in young adults’ lives. When we text, I’m usually frustrated and discouraged, although I’m aware that’s not his intention. No, it is not because he sternly responds to my lost credit card, a classic and expectable occurrence in my life (don’t worry it was in my pocket), or because of his curiosity with my performance in school. Rather, it is due to the lingo he uses when he texts me. “Hello.”, “No.” , “Why.”, “K.”, “Hope so.”
My loving, kind, humorous, and gentle father simply cannot avoid putting periods after each word or sentence he sends over text. Though I have pointed out the stern tone that his messages convey through the screen, he can’t make sense of why this grammatically acceptable structure is so mistranslated through the phone. I contrast this with a father of one of my friends, who seems to send essays in response to her every text. It’s not confirmed whether his texts are a stream of consciousness, or whether he legitimately begins typing, hones in on a thesis statement, edits his text, and then presses send. Either way, though, his texting lingo is unlike what is ever seen within our generation. Our two fathers’ texting habits join the plethora of other parents who send “love dad” or “love mom” after each text as if their child didn’t have their own parents’ number in their phone, or the parents who try to talk in emoji’s and expect their children to translate all of it in the abundance of free time they have in their teenage lives.
I received the following text from my grandfather on a lovely Thursday afternoon:
“H M GNG T TH GRDN T PLNT SME FLWRS ND B OTSD. HVE GD DY.”
“Hahaha” I responded generically, attempting to ignore the situation. He must’ve just been typing without his glasses on.
“DD Y HV GD DY TDY? SCHL WS GD?”
I actually stood there and laughed at the screen, unsure of why I was being Punk’d by my grandpa. I squinted my eyes, as if that would magically make the words more clear, and tilted my head to try to read it at a different angle. After a while, and with the help of my mom, it became apparent that he had deleted every single vowel from the sentence, thinking that was the way he was supposed to be texting. A+ for effort, Papa!
No, your parents are not just embarrassing themselves or trying to annoy you. They aren’t purposely wasting your time, or defying our societal norms for the hell of it. Rather, they’re simply trying to communicate with their child in the most popular and efficient way and look up to date. My grandpa wanted to talk with me in the same way he thought I communicated with my friends. Although his attempt was absurd and a brainteaser in and of itself, his thoughtfulness shone through, and was appreciated.
Likewise, my dad simply wants to talk to his daughter who’s living 800 miles away from home and family. He probably doesn’t consider the way he’s texting me at all before he sends it. I’m sure he would rather be talking on the phone or FaceTiming, but the fact of the matter is that this is not always possible. I commend him for understanding that, and for settling for the few brief texts here and there, until we can enjoy a well-celebrated FaceTime when I have a few extra minutes to talk.
I embrace it now. Sometimes, when I text my father, I assimilate to the way he texts me. Responding with a “Hi.” Or a “No.” And he even uses emoji’s every now and then when he wants to emphasize his point, or decorates his “Happy Halloween!” text with pumpkins and ghosts. Because, in the end, he just wants to be reminded that I will always be his little daughter, and I just want to talk to my dad: who is several states away, who wants to know I’m alive and well, and who I am lucky to be able to talk to whenever I’d like to.
Not all parents can text. Don’t worry- it’s not the worst thing in the world.
Read more on this topic:
A Futbol Father With A Dancing Daughter by Danielle Frederick
Red, White & Go Blue by Emma Bernstein
My name is Emily Olin and I’m currently a freshman at the University of Michigan. I love my hometown, Weston, Connecticut, chocolate covered strawberries, and chicken fingers! My favorite quote is: “Despite everything that’s happened, I still believe people are good at heart” – Ann Frank.