teens

Review time! Battery Pack Jump Starter. Yes, Really.

As long as we’re on the subject of cars and tech goodness for them, I was ALSO able to try and review the Cobra JumPack – a battery pack jump starter. I was really interested in this product because if you’re ever stuck on the road with a dead battery, you wouldn’t have to depend on anyone else to help you – your phone is charged and you can jump start your car by yourself.

Cobra JumPack Battery Pack Jump Starter

 

battery pack jump start

Photo: AT&T Wireless

This product appealed to me right away, largely because I’m staring at the age my teenage daughter will start to learn how to drive. Capt and I agree there are certain life skills that are absolutely necessary for our kids to have before they leave home; knowing how to jump start your car is one of them. I always carry jumper cables in my car, but the problem with that is the fact that you have to rely on someone else – frequently a stranger – to help you get your car started again in the event of a dead battery. The thought of my teenage daughter, or my currently-driving teenage nieces relying on random person in a parking lot to help them get their car started appeals to me not even a little. Not a bit. No.

I also see how Girl Child drains the battery on her phone with all her favorite apps and such. That’s one reason why we bought her a battery phone case; so she would have a battery boost in case she needed it. Because this product also charges your USB device, that is another potential problem this product solves.

We made sure we brought it with us on our recent road trip to visit my brother and his family:

battery pack jump starter

Don’t leave home without it.

What’s in the Box:

The battery unit, a car power adapter cord, jumps, and a standard USB cord for charging the battery. Sorry, iPhone users – this one is BYOC (Bring Your Own Cord) for charging your phone.

battery pack jump starter

Product specs:

  • Jump-start your car multiple times on one charge
  • 360A Peak Current
  • 2.4A USB output for rapid charging of mobile devices
  • Convenient built-in LED flashlight
  • Jumper cables included

We opened the box, charged up the main unit (required) and had no trouble powering up our devices. When we took our trip to visit my brother, I pitched this product to him, as his daughters are drivers and have their own cars. He loved the idea. See? Tech meets safety meets life skills. The Cobra JumPack battery pack jump starter is available at AT&T Wireless for $99.00.

Speaking of Life Skills:

It’s never too early to learn.

battery pack jump starter

Remember kids: negative to negative, positive to ground.

 

Thank you Andy Colley at AT&T Wireless for this fantastic product.

Growing Up Girl Child: My First Instagram Account

first instagram accountI finally gave in. Yep. Girl Child is now the proud owner of her very first instagram account. Seeing as she’s in seventh grade, SubHub and I second guessed ourselves on this one quite a bit.

And So It Begins

Instagram? We’re in new parenting territory. I made the decision when I started blogging in 2007 that I would share Girl Child’s story, including pictures. Oh, how naïve and cute that was. I think in the years following, many parents and an entire generation of kids have learned that a picture is worth a million reshares, whether you want it to get reshared or not. Once she was old enough, I let her read all the posts related to her and her experience on the Submommy blog. I took out anything that didn’t sit well with her. Since many of the posts are about her life, I wanted to make sure she felt she has a say in what gets discussed online. There have been times when she has asked, “Don’t share this, ok?” and other times when I have asked her permission to share something. We’ve established an ongoing dialogue as she grows up in the age of the Overshare.

This is one of those moments I feel it was a lucky twist of fate that I got into blogging and social media when I did. So, when the inevitable happened and she asked for an account, I was ready. As ready as I guess a parent ever really can be.

My First Instagram Account: The Rules

Here’s where I cop to being an extremely strict parent. I’ve been paying attention all these years to what gets shared, what makes viral headlines, and what just counts as obnoxious behavior from kids whose pre-frontal cortex needs some work that only growing up and life experience can make happen. A friend of mine says, “Kids run ’til they find the fence.” For Girl Child, the social media fence is close to the house where everyone can see it. These were the rules we agreed on:

  • Her account is private. Anyone sees her profile has to request to follow her.
    • She cannot let anyone follow her that she does not know in real life.
    • Conversely, she cannot request to follow anyone she does not know in real life.
  • She cannot put personal information in her public bio.
    • Personal information consists of: age, birthdate, address, her personal email address, etc.
  • I have to be one of her followers.
  • Her older female cousins have to be her followers also. They are 15 and 18 years old, and have experience.
  • For the time being, she asks permission of me to post a picture. This is a double-check I hope to instill in her. I want her to ask herself if this is a good idea.
  • If she wants to leave a comment on someone’s picture, we talk about what’s appropriate and what isn’t, including the use of hashtags.
  • She cannot reshare other people’s photos if they have private accounts.

As you can see, her first Instagram account is tightly controlled. It’s also working. She is reserved socially at school, and this is afforded her an opportunity to share pieces of her personality that she’s too shy to let shine in big noisy groups. Her school acquaintances have found her and requested to follow her, and she is following back. It’s opening up new possibilities for her as she starts to consider what she thinks is “share-worthy” about her and her life.

The rule that she has to show me what pictures she wants to post has come in handy, too. She brought a picture to me that she wasn’t sure of. It was selfie she took where she had face paint on. This led to a very productive conversation about “What if this gets shared by people? How would you feel about that?” She decided against it.

In talking about this entire thing, we also had to prepare her for the potential for hurt feelings. Her friends may post pictures of things that they have done together, and she wasn’t invited to join. This can hurt, even if you’re an adult. In internet-speak, people have abbreviated this phenomenon to FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out. And it happened. She WAS hurt, but took it in stride, didn’t make any comments on the picture, and moved on.

Maturity vs. Sophistication

I’m trying to help her build a pause button before she hits send. I see parents everywhere mistake sophistication for maturity, and I can’t help but wonder if it leaves the child confused, or with a false sense of their perceived importance. We all know that adolescence is when we, as humans, are the most inward focused. I’m doing my darndest to make certain her sense of importance comes from real maturity, not just the illusion of it.

She knows where the fence is.

Growing Up Girl Child: Mood Swings

Mood Swings. The Bain Of Our Existence.

Ah, mood swings. A female rite of passage. One minute you’re fine, the next minute, you’re bawling for no apparent reason. It feels weird to be crying for no reason, so you make one up. That way you appear less insane.mood swings

This happened a few mornings ago. She poured herself some cereal without realizing I had poured a bowl for her already.

Burst into tears. ?

So we had a conversation about the whole thing when she had calmed down a little:

Girl: “Has this ever happened to you?”

Me: Absolutely.

Girl: WHY? THIS IS AWFUL!

Me: Yep. Can’t lie about that. It stinks.

Girl: When did you have mood swings?

Me: When I was your age, and then at the end of my pregnancy with you. I remember the most ridiculous things would upset me. I swear, I would drop my pen on the ground or something stupid like that, and start crying because it was hard to pick up. My belly was in the way and it would send me over the edge. Your poor dad didn’t know what to do.

Girl: What did you do?

Me: Rode it out. It’s just a feeling. You don’t have to attach it to anything. When you feel that stress coming on, and you want to cry, go ahead. Just know the feeling doesn’t need a permanent home with some vague issue that’s not really an issue. It took me practically a lifetime to learn that. Feelings don’t need to latch themselves on to anything.

Girl: Ok. (*sniffle)

Remember ladies – feels can be bullshit. Don’t attach a random feeling to a vague thought and make it bigger than it needs to be. It will pass, and then your logical brain can come back online and make sense of it all.

mood swings

 

Growing Up Girl Child: Body Image

“Media Literacy” is a buzz term around OpEd pieces that discuss the raising of girls. I’ve been watching and learning about it for a few years now, lying in wait for the day that Girl Child begins to turn inward and worry about things like her looks, what she’s wearing, when she’ll be developing, etc. I want very much to make sure that she’s guided through the gigantic maze of body image issues. I had plenty myself, and looking back, I was FINE. Better than fine. Pretty, even. I’m hoping to spare her the same self-torture by educating her on what’s real, and what’s unequivocally NOT real.

Girls and women are assaulted on the daily with what I call “Girl Mud Flap” body:

Imperial-mud-flap-girl

image: Nil Failstorm

What’s so insidious about trying to make this body type come to life is it’s not even real or attainable, yet it’s presented that way through manipulation. So, here are two videos I’ve shown Girl Child recently giving her a bird’s eye view of what really goes on after the pictures are taken, and how it can affect a woman’s body image.

Talking About Body Image

Love your body, ladies. Not so much for what it looks like, but what it can do, be, and endure.

(video: iGirl Television)

And then here is the one I showed her where four perfectly lovely women were photographed and subsequently given The Photoshop Treatment. Watch their reactions to the changes made and how it may affect their body image going forward. (For the better!) Suddenly who they ARE crystallizes.

(video: BuzzFeedVideo)

I am hopeful that because she was born with an imperfection and now has scars (which I tell her, “scars are stories.”) that she embrace all she’s been through, and realizes life is too short to not accept who you are inside and out. We are all so much more than the size of our breasts and what the tag says in our jeans. My hope is to guide her through these years and help her see herself as a whole entity, not simply the sum of her parts that she has compared to an impossible standard. One of the keys to this is being aware of how I talk about myself and my own body. I’m ok. So are you, and so is your daughter.

Mission Growing Up Girl Child (Part 1)

[fusion_text]Girl Child has reached an age where her emotional and mental maturity are starting to come together. And then you know what happens? Hormones. That’s what.

We are keeping an eye on what we think she is ready to hear and know about, and what she isn’t. This is harder than it sounds. We’re pretty open with her about all things human, but parsing out complicated details as we think she’s able to process them is a balancing act. She’s in the world. We want to help keep her innocence but not her naiveté.

Parenting is hard.

Growing Up Girl Child

So, I’m starting a little series on this blog to help me: Growing Up Girl Child. I’m combing around the internet looking or sites and videos that I post here, and will hopefully serve as a reference of sorts for her (and possibly anyone who stumbles on this blog) that she can utilize.

First up: “When Should I Start Dating?”

I’m going to let the good kids at Blimey Cow help out with this one. Blimey Cow is composed of two brothers and their friends (one brother is married, so she is part of the fun, too.) They post videos weekly on a variety of topics that are great for young people. They’re pretty good for older people too, because let’s face it, I need all the help I can get with this little project.

Visit their sponsor, while you’re at it, so they don’t send me a cease and desist order for sharing the video: Audible.com.

Stay tuned for more tween growing up fun. When she asks me tough questions, like, “Mom? Why did Adolf Hitler kill people?” Or, “Mom? I don’t understand what’s going on with me. Why do I feel like THIS?” I can actually come up with a half-way decent answer. Maybe. Hopefully.

Parenting is hard.[/fusion_text]