Our son kept checking his phone. “He still hasn’t responded,” he’d tell me. I tried to downplay it and suggest perhaps his text hadn’t gone through, but our tech savvy boy knew better. Dad wasn’t responding. He checked one more time before bed, tears filled his eyes as he put the phone down.
My husband was working out of town for the weekend and our son had sent him a variety of off the wall video clips and a slew of emojis. There were no hot topics, no pressing questions to be answered, there was nothing seemingly important. However, seeing his disappointment pointed out the importance of his attempts at reaching out. He wanted to exchange messages with his dad to feel connected.
A simple thumbs up emoji would’ve been enough.
A poop emoji would’ve gotten a giggle.
I kiss face emoji would have brought sweet dreams.
Never underestimate the power of an emoji!
Emojis have been around since the late 1990’s, so while they are still relatively new to us parents they are a standard form of communication for our children. Personally, I love the darn things. I can communicate a feeling, solicit a laugh, flirt with my husband, or offer a quick response with a character. And it seems there is an emoji for everything. As someone who loves to write and loves words this may seem like a cop-out, but what can I say– I love me some emojis.
Emojis are easy (not in a sleazy way, although I’m sure there are a couple suggestive ones available). They are the perfect tool for strong silent types like my husband and busy multi taskers like myself.
I think many of us can relate to how my son felt. So many of us live with our phones within reach and are constantly accessible. We know this about each other. We know the recipient must’ve seen our message and chosen to not respond. That feeling sucks. Our son knows dad’s phone is most likely in his pocket or his hand. He knows Dad scrolls Facebook regularly. He knows Dad looks at his phone for news, weather, sports, and online shopping.
In Dad’s defense, he may not have felt the string of texts required a response. I mean how does one respond to a poop emoji? He may have been working or in a conversation with someone at the time, I get it. But here’s the thing, if I send you an emoji blowing a kiss you’d better send me a kiss back. Don’t leave me hanging there with my lips puckered and my eyes closed. That’s just awkward. So Dad, next time you receive a pile of poo from your boy, I suggest a high-five emoji in return.
In a few years, our son may be the one ignoring our attempts at communication and our desperate need for connection. I’m sure there might be a time when an eye roll emoji is all I’ll get and that might even be enough to satisfy me, for I will know he is okay and we’ve connected even if we’ve annoyed one another. All I can hope is that once in a while I get the heart eyes. I love that one.