July 23, 2024
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July 23, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Do you remember the phrase “What’s Up?” You would see your friend in school and say, “Hey, what’s up?” If you wanted to be funny, you would say, “Hey dude, what is up?” If the dude wanted to be funny, he would say, “The sky, the clouds, the trees…” and everyone would have a good laugh. No one ever really answered the question seriously because kids have short attentions spans and unless it has to do with girls, boys or sports—who really cares? The fact that they were communicating at all was a positive sign, and it did not matter how few words they were using.

When you ask your kids “what’s up,” don’t make it a question because apparently, asking your kids questions is really annoying and the only answer you will get it is “nothing.” If they are in a decent mood, you might get a “nothing, what’s up with you?” And then you don’t know if you should really answer them or not for fear that they will totally ignore you and dismiss your feelings and you will be hurt, even though you know this is totally normal behavior for a teenager. Was that a run-on sentence? So, really, the lesson learned here is the phrase “what’s up” should be saved for people you see in the supermarket who you don’t have much to do with, but you are standing right next to each other and it would be totally awkward if you didn’t say anything at all, so “what’s up” is pretty innocuous. Unless they tell you about their recent dispute with their neighbor of some sort of mole they aren’t too comfortable with and then you will rue the day you tried a pleasant “what’s up” to ease the tension. Just be like most people and ignore the person totally and completely. No harm, no foul and move along. I like to call it the “I am so thin they don’t even see me and that is why they don’t say hello” syndrome.

Now, we have just learned the lessons of “what’s up,” but what about the lessons of whats app? What is whats app? I don’t even think I am spelling it right. I first learned of WhatsApp last year when son #1 was in Israel. Apparently, it is a magical app that you can use when you are abroad and there is no charge for the texting. You can send pictures, possibly videos and voice-notes (though I have no idea what those are) and the biggest deal about WhatsApp is that you can set up group chats.

Due to the miraculous events of my receiving an iPhone, my carpool for high school has a WhatsApp group. This has been both humorous and helpful. “I am not coming in carpool.” “I am coming in carpool, no wait, I am not coming in carpool.” “We are outside your house.” “We are still outside your house.” Yes, frustrating, but definitely more effective than relying on teenage boys to actually tell you if they are coming in carpool. This is one example of the WhatsApp group.

Now these chats, I have learned through snooping, can be used for good and for evil. For example, you can have a WhatsApp group for your family that doesn’t include their mother. Which basically means, your entire family can complain about you and you don’t even know it; but boys, I will change if I know what’s wrong, I promise, please don’t cart me away yet. Then there are the family chats on WhatsApp. If you have learned anything about my family, it is that they all love sports. After taking a spin class yesterday (yes, big girls can spin), I looked down at my phone and there were 96 missed whatsapps. I got a little nervous. If something was wrong, wouldn’t someone have tried to reach me a different way? Sorry, forgot they were boys.

So I figure out how to open the group chat and there were 96 messages about…well, I am still not sure what they were about. There were pictures of football team rankings, possibly something about college basketball, reference to a player name AP (which may or may not be Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings), back and forth the brothers posting things that could have been in Chinese for all it meant to me. So my point really is—why can’t this stuff be in the chat group that I am not invited too? I have no idea. I am just happy they want to include me. And next time I cautiously say “what’s up” and they look at me like I have three heads, I will quietly tiptoe backwards, grab my phone and say “Oh, I meant whatsapp…how about those Carolina Panthers?” And order will be restored..hopefully.

Banji Ganchrow is a self-proclaimed writer who is trying to figure out why son #2 insists on sleeping on the couch when he has a perfectly good bed in his room. The fact that he wears his winter coat is a totally different issue.

By Banji Latkin-Ganchrow

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