Emojis, The Great Parenting Divide



Let’s get this one fact straight: I am a classic Nerd.

In Middle School, did I wear the RIGHT jeans to the RIGHT skating party and slow dance in the disco with the RIGHT boy? NO. I in fact, wore the WRONG jeans (I’ve never covered my special bits with Calvins), put the wrong comb in the wrong pocket, covered with the wrong puffy stickers, sans le shiny disco-jacket, and refused to go anywhere near the boys. They didn’t READ the same books I liked. Why would I want to get face-to-face with a person who doesn’t know A SINGLE L.M. Montgomery character, let alone the vast brilliance of her collective works? Duh.

I was born a nerd, blossomed into my nerd-status, and by high school, I was accused of taking notes in Driver’s Ed (as if ANYONE could memorize the steps of pumping gas without writing it down). If I could have dated any celebrity in the 80’s, it would have been Anthony Michael Hall, circa “The Breakfast Club”. Why? Because I actually WAS in the Physics Club.

And now, in my 40’s, I can proudly say I don’t own any cute ankle boot-things or infinity scarves (however, I probably know more about the concept of infinity than most people wearing those scarves, and I secretly laugh about how they are not actual scarves, but only conceptual…OH! Stop me! The Kind of the Nerds has arrived!) But here’s the rub: I’m parenting in the Information Age, and if I thought it was hard to keep up with Blaire’s hairstyles in 1982, there is no hope for me keeping up in 2015. To make matters, worse, my daughters can now email. And they don’t speak English; they speak EMOJI.


Insert smirk, which might be a frown, or a smile…or? He-She is alluding to something snarky? We’ll call this the Mona Lisa Emoji. I speak fluent English, some broken French, and I can find a bathroom, compliment the cook, and pay the tab in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. I don’t speak a lick of Spanish, German, Cool Kids, and by God, I speak absolutely NO emoji. I feel like I’m living in that awful game show from the 70’s with the picture quizzes, and the only word I can get is “I”. “I…am…walking over the bridge….to the….DOG!…and…EYE, I mean…I…HAVE NO IDEA WHY ANYONE WOULD SPEAK IN PICTURES!!! NEXT PUZZLE PLEASE!


I mean, what kind of fresh hell is this? As if I’m not already scared to death of having 2 daughters a breath away from puberty, now I have to learn how to speak in bald-yellow men? What IS this? Upside down smile. I’m talking to you whilst wearing gravity boots. I’ve been in a terrible car accident, have flipped my car. Lassie, go get help! I’m turning my frown upside down…wait…no, he’s smiling upside down, so he’s turning his smile upside down. OH DEAR GOD! Who has this kind of time?!


Even if I could speak Emoji-ese, the sheer volume of tiny choices is mind-numbing. Without my reading glasses, I really have no idea what I’m choosing most of the time. Who has this many flags memorized, other than Dr. Sheldon Cooper? If I want to be witty and make some kind of reference to Estonia (like THAT doesn’t come up in daily conversation), I’d first have to figure out which flag is Estonia (go out to Google…wait…find any of the 10 pairs of reading glasses I’ve stashed throughout my life…find ZERO…start guessing). Screw it. Choose any flag. End up telling my children they have permission to go Paraguay with their Canadian friends on Spring Break without me. Edarkesthand

Then we have the obvious land mines of political correctness. If I thought being a nerd was bad, try being a Caucasian at a school which is half everything-else-on-earth but Caucasian. Our school looks like the United Nations. So how does a thumbs up work via Emoji? Is it MY skin tone, or is it the skin tone of the person to whom I am speaking?


Because honestly, I’d rather die than send my African friend a Lebanese thumb. HOW RUDE! (Or is it? I really don’t know anything about Africa or Lebanon, other than I could never afford a plane ticket to either. And forget the flag situation…death by Google). Or how about my Italian friend? Is this olive enough, or should I go one shade lighter? What about my friends who are Indian, and married to Caucasians? Do I send the skin tone of their children, or of their spouse to let them know I think their family is way more culturally hip than mine? There’s nothing nerdier than being a straight, married Caucasian these days. Er-mer-gerd. I may as well put on some Mom jeans, wear a fanny pack, and save everyone the time of teasing me. My best friend and I refuse to repair the huge dents on our minivans, because we think it makes us look LESS Soccer-Mom-ish. Completely ironic considering my kids won’t go near a soccer field.


SOMEDAY, I’m going to get daring enough to send a diverse family Emoji. I AM. I’m going to take a class or something. But I dare not at this time, as I have NO idea what I’m doing. I secretly fear every single Emoji has a slang meaning which absolutely no human on earth is allowed to share with the Moms. We are purposely left in the dark so our kids can laugh at us with their friends. It’s only fair. My Mom used to wiggle her hiney to Linda Ronstadt while making her Shake-n-Bake. Jean Naté! I wouldn’t have told her the Emoji-Code either.


Still, I think I have a pretty keen sense of observation. I have days in which I’m feeling young (ish), and fancy myself…capable. THEN I pull up THIS load of bull. REALLY? No matter what your skin color, you have blue eyes? As a brown-haired brunette, I’m a little offended all the Queens get blue eyes.


But it’s worse for the dudes, who only get to be blonde-haired and blue-eyed. While we’re on the subject, I have a ton of Indian friends, and none of them have blonde hair. Are they hiding him somewhere? The one Norwegian-Indian guy with the poofy crew cut? Or do you think the Emoji artists got drunk one night and made this stuff while waiting on their Papa John’s delivery?


And NO ONE even mentions the entire population of jaundiced patients in Emoji-land. I guess they don’t have affordable healthcare either, because there are a boatload of these guys. Smiling away, not even noticing they are in end-stage liver failure. Thanks Obama-care. Here’s a big mustard-yellow thumbs up from the patients above. They’ll be dead soon, but don’t worry, there’s an Emoji for that.


Wake up and smell the meatball and marshmallow kabob my friends; we’re in a new world now. A world ruled by purple devils, with sidewalks covered in steaming piles of oddly happy poop.


And here’s a deeper fear rooted in my background as a scientist: if I were 10 years old and making up a language, I’d add a layer of complexity and go straight for hieroglyphics. Kids love animals, and my daughters send me hundreds of these things. I’m guessing the combinations will eventually make a secret sentence, if they don’t already:

Duck + Panda Bear = My Mom is being a nag about my homework.

Pigeon + Boar = We should sneak out tonight and hang out at Starbucks.

Frog + Mouse + Pig = Your Mother paid her way through college and given enough time, WILL crack this code you’all! There is a reason hieroglyphics aren’t still used today! They are INEFFICIENT! PLUS, my generation was pretty lick-say with creating fake anguage-lays. Huh? Ever heard of ig-pay atin-lay? CRACK THAT CODE, Genius.


So what’s my Go-To Emoji? The one which brings me comfort and consistent communication? The Faceless-Handsless Salsa Dancer. For no other reason than she reminds me of the completely unoffensive Sofia Vergara, and I figure if there were a Nexus of the Emoji Universe, it would most certainly be her. Everyone knows this.

So let’s take a quiz to see what we’ve learned, fellow parents:

Earcheryrosary EunicornEtempleEtearsinnoseEzippedEcopsEghostEprayinggumballERussiaEplatterhandEjazzhands

The correct answer: I was practicing my archery during Lent, and I accidentally killed a Jewish Unicorn! I cried so hard, my nose fell off. Please don’t turn me into the cops. I’m still on probation for punching that ghost last year. Gumball pray for me, because I’m going into hiding in Russia. When I return, we’ll celebrate and have a party with platters. You bring the hand, and I’ll bring the platters. Jazz Hands, Baby. As always, Jazz Hands.

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