First there were the pregnancy announcements and fetal updates (“Droplet is as big as a shrimp today! Next month, avocado!”). Then came the dewy-eyed newborn pics and wry birthing stories (“Who was naked on all fours in a room full of strangers? Droplet’s Mommy, that’s who!”). These missives were quickly followed by banana-smeared highchair candids, only to be replaced by blowout diaper anecdotes (a timeless dinner party classic). Just preceding our latest stage were the “First day of (insert grade here)!” shots of a bug-eyed, scrawny-limbed creature weighed down like a tiny Sherpa by her Everest-sized backpack.
Now we’ve reached a new plateau. The one where Droplet says things like, “Today my teacher made us read Sartre. I like it better than Camus. It made me feel … I don’t know. Like life is just something we are always in the process of leaving behind. Then we went to recess and played four square.”
Of course, when we were Droplet’s age, our parents did not record and publicly relay our every utterance. In fact, our parents didn’t notice that we said those things … if we even said them at all. They were too busy drinking and driving while firing up a filterless cigarette with the red-hot popup cigarette lighter as we rolled around, unrestrained, in the back seat.
Droplet is now a self-aware social media savant with a Twitter handle and more click-throughs, page views and engagement time than Mom or Dad could ever have dreamed of. Droplet knows how many Likes Droplet gets on Facebook — but does that make the digital scrapbooking any less sentimental? I don’t think so. The game may be different, but the players remain the same. Her parents don’t care what her metrics are. They just love her to pieces, no matter her grade or whether or not she’s reading in the original French.
It does make me wonder, however, what Droplet will have to say for herself in her dotage. You know, when she’s practically prehistoric—like Earthlink or MySpace are today—and eating mashed bananas and wearing diapers are de rigueur for her once more. What is there, really, to add after her Facebook-addicted parents are long gone, Harvard and law school are in the rear view, and her own little Droplet is ignoring her calls? Not much. It’s hard to type when you’re curled up on your bed, drooling and helpless, like a little shrimp.