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The Facebook Friend
by Laura Sweeney Shewalter

Oh, yay! I open my Facebook page and see that my daughter, Leslie, has posted something. Since leaving for college 6 weeks ago or so, this is often how I get some feel for what she is doing. If it means reading off a computer screen to get a glimpse into her new life, I'll take it!

I quickly scan the first sentence and it is clear she is very upset about something and venting. Things are bold and capital and I notice the phrase "CAN'T TAKE THIS ANYMORE!"

Wait, what is this? This is not a normal "post". This looks different somehow; it appears to have been sent directly to me. There are two other names that also seem to be involved. I call my other daughter over to have her clarify what I think I am seeing.

"Is this right? Did she send this message directly to me, and these two?" She confirms my suspicion, shakes her head and walks away.

Oh happy day! I did it! I utilized all the self-control I possess and I have been rewarded. When Leslie decided to live on-campus at a university 20 minutes from home, I promised her I would not take advantage of her close proximity by dropping in or pressuring her to come home. I assured her I would not abuse 21st century technology, by texting and calling every day. I would not, in short, be "that parent".

In some ways this was easily accomplished, because I knew she did not need me to hover over her. She was entering college armed with all of the maturity, smarts, and common sense needed to take on the challenges involved in living away. No, she didn't need me to check in on her. But, oh, did I want to...for my sake.

It was simple; I missed her! I missed hearing the funny stories she would come home with from the coffee shop where she worked, or what happened at school. I missed watching our favorite TV programs together.

Now I had to gleam most of my information from the very occasional post she would make to Facebook, and if I was lucky, someone would "tag" her in their post and I would learn third-hand that she had been to the movies or a football game.

A picture would pop up and I would scan the faces of her new friends and match them up with their names, trying to remember what she may have told me about them. These were not the names and faces of her high school friends whom I had come to know and care about. These people were foreign to me, but clearly becoming an important part of my daughter's life.

But this message was different. It was not directed to her 548 "friends". Au contraire! I had been included in an elite group, the crème de la crème, so to speak. I swing around in my chair and announce to my husband that I have received a very intense message from our daughter directed to myself, and…wait for it…her BEST FRIEND and her BOYFRIEND! I spin in my chair, do a happy dance and conclude with a fist pump.

I take advantage of this opportunity to explain to my husband how I have been right all along. Not pushing for information or demanding constant contact has shown our daughter that we will not pester her about her new life. "She knows we are here, that's what matters. Let her have her space."

This has been my mantra, as I figuratively and literally, slapped my husband's hand as it was permanently poised over his phone to text her. And look, I was right! Does he understand now? Can he see how right I was, or should I explain again?

He assures me that he can clearly see my parenting success and that perhaps, if I could take a break in my celebratory antics, I should read the message to see what exactly she was distraught about.

"Yes, of course," I reply, and return to the screen.

Note - don't be alarmed, it was nothing serious, only the kind of thing you would share with you boyfriend, your best friend, and your MOM!







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