Much lost in translation when parents text

06/20/2012 5:00 AM

06/21/2012 7:26 AM

I sent my daughter a photo message recently – a version of the “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster that said, “Keep Calm and Sing Me Soft Kitty,” a nod to one of our favorite TV shows.

Hannah replied: “OMG.”

“IKR?!” I texted back. (I know, right?!)

I could almost hear her eyes roll. Then she typed back:

“You are one mom who tries REALLY hard to be a hip young person.”

What do you mean, tries?

If I weren’t hip and young, would I even comprehend the side-splitting, tear-inducing humor of my new favorite website, When Parents Text?

I was browsing the clearance table at a local bookstore recently and came across a little paperback, “When Parents Text: So Much Said … So Little Understood,” which is based on the website,, created by Lauren Kaelin and Sophia Fraioli.

Opened the book to this gem:

DAD: What does Totes Magoats mean?

ME: Totally.

DAD: Totally what?

ME: It’s just an expression. Magoats rhymes with totes so people say it.

DAD: I think life is just passing me by.

Then I saw this, which persuaded me to buy the book. (Not that I needed much persuasion, as I was literally LOL in the bookstore.)

MOM: Do you want waffles or muffins for breakfast? Just text “A1” for waffles or “B1” for muffins.

ME: Why did you go through all that trouble? Why can’t I just text “waffles” or “muffins”?

MOM: We are texting in code! ;););) :)

ME: Waffles

MOM: A1 or B1?


MOM: Sooo … A1?

ME: Mom. Yes.

MOM: I think I would rather have muffins. I’m making muffins.

And this:

DAD: Explain hipsters.

ME: HAHA basically moms hairdresser

DAD: Rudolfo? Or the chubby lady who feeds the dogs?

I don’t text my parents. Not long ago I had to ask them to keep their cellphone turned on after making calls because mobile phones are designed to receive calls as well, and someone – their daughter, perhaps – might actually try to call them sometime.

They’ve since mastered Facebook and Skype. They enjoy their Hyundai’s Bluetooth a little too much sometimes, calling on the way back from Costco just to tell me they bought a case of merlot. (“Hope they don’t stop us at the border!”)

But they don’t text. They “don’t believe in it.” If they did, though, I could envision an exchange like this one, from WhenParentsText:

MOM: what do u wanna get ur friendz for xmas? coffee cake? ice cream? hoop earrings?

ME: why would my friends want any of those things?

MOM: not sure, i have extra in the basement

Or this:

DAD: would ya’ll take me to the itunes store…i don’t know where its located…is it on S. Congress?

Or this:

MOM: FYI: PLZ be careful with shiskabobs. Dogs can swallow them and stab their hearts.

I’m enjoying this book and website way too much. Even more, perhaps, than my other old favorites, Awkward Family Photos and People of Walmart.

My children find that hilarious, as some of our text-message exchanges seem every bit as hapless or corny as the WhenParentsText examples. Me being a parent and all.

HANNAH: Heading home now.

MOM: OK, see you at home :(

MOM: I meant :). I’ll be happy to see you. That was a typo.

MOM: I love you.

MOM: Never doubt that.

HANNAH: Mom. I know.

LOL. (Little Old Lady? Lots of love?) At least I know the way to the iTunes store.

About Suzanne Tobias

Suzanne writes about family life on Thursdays. She has covered local news for The Eagle since 1990. Suzanne is a native of North Carolina and earned an English degree from North Carolina State University.

Find her on Twitter: @suzannetobias

Contact Suzanne at 316-268-6567 or by emailing her at

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